Hive City

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Elevator B is a collaborative project between graduate students from the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Department of Architecture’s Ecological Practices Research Group, and Rigidized Metals, a Buffalo based building material manufacturer. The overall goal of the project was to successfully design for the relocation and habitation of a colony of honeybees occupying a building at Silo City, a dense cluster of grain elevators in Buffalo, NY.  Elevator B was selected from a group of ten entries by a mixed panel of jurors, who represented Rigidized Metals, the fields of architecture and planning, and the bees.

Elevator B is an iconic gesture of the regeneration of Silo City, both naturally and economically.  The material properties of the tower represent the cluster of material manufactures now located around the site while housing the colony of bees. Visitors enter the tower from below and look up, similar to the way one experiences the silos and bins of the nearby Marine A elevator.

The 22’ tall honeycombed steel structure was designed and built utilizing standard steel angle and tube sections.  The structure is sheathed in perforated stainless steel panels that were designed to protect the hive and visitors from the wind, and allow for solar gain and shading. The bees are housed in a hexagonal cypress box with a laminated glass bottom through which the bees can be observed. This provides protection, warmth and separates entry access between bees and humans.  Professional beekeepers gain access to the hive by lowering it, which allows them to ensure the health and safety of the bees.  This feature also caters to school groups that will visit the site allowing children to get a close up view.   The tower’s orientation also frames key views of the surrounding historic grain elevators and the new upcoming developments of Silo City.

The construction phase started May 14th at the University at Buffalo Material and Methods Shop.  The exterior metal panels were developed by the team in coordination with and fabricated by the project sponsor, Rigidized Metals.  The entire project was fabricated and installed by the team of students and was completed in the beginning of June. The bees were relocated into the tower on June 8th 2012.

Designed and Fabricated By:

Courtney Creenan, Kyle Mastalinski, Daniel Nead, Scott Selin and Lisa Stern

Hive City Competition Coordinators:

Martha Bohm, Joyce Hwang and Christopher Romano



Inside 2013: Emerging Talents Jury Winner | The Morpholio Project | 2013

AZ Awards: A+ Award for Best Student Work | Azure | 2013

A+ Awards: Student Design/Build Project Finalist | Architizer | 2013

Pro Bono Publico Award in Design Excellence | Buffalo Architecture Foundation | 2012

First Place | Hive City Design Competition | Buffalo, NY | 2012