Located in Buffalo, New York, The Larkin District is a community that was an industrial powerhouse of the 1800’s, changing the way Americans lived their daily lives. Paving the path for new innovations in the field of mail ordering, the Larkin Soap Company adopted the motto “Factory to Family” as a guiding principle to making everyday living easier for the denizens of the era. Influenced by the stylings of Frank Lloyd Wright, The Larkin District set the stage for great innovations in architecture, design and urban planning. Today, the site sits empty and is classified as a brownfield ready for new development and revitalization.
Nestled in the thriving heart of an expanding community, the park design honors the past while looking towards the future. The unique ecosystems of New York’s once expansive salt marshes, rolling planes, and diverse forests are manifested in different regions of the park, providing an array of experiences and learning opportunities. With the implementation of native plantings, the park provides a home to support the increasingly endangered local population of pollinator bats, birds, and bees. By breathing new life into the existing brownfield site, the Larkin Park redevelopment will provide an engaging learning environment where community members can learn about the restoration of the landscape.
Exploratory play is a driving theme throughout the park. Rather than relying on prefabricated equipment, the landscape is designed to inspire creative play through the use of undulating landforms, waterfalls and rock outcroppings. All these features provide the effect of maximizing different types of revelry and discovery. As a reprieve from the less formal surroundings, the centrally located great lawn is programed for small performances and large gatherings. Across from the new building development and courtyard, the gateway entrance ushers users into the park, while also offering options for food trucks and local artists to display their artwork.
The courtyard design of the new mixed-use building gives a nod to the radial patterns of Buffalo’s historic transportation infrastructure. These radial transit patterns helped make the city a great transit hub of the industrial revolution. Intended for both residents and community members to enjoy, the courtyard is designed as a space that draws in the surrounding neighborhood with flexible programming. Visitors enjoy amenities including cafes, artist studios, amphitheater seating, and a coffee bar.
On the rooftop of the mixed-use residential building is the private pool deck. The terrace offers sweeping views of the park with trees framing important vistas. Punctuated by native perennials and grasses, the space references the great plains of western New York. Outdoor kitchens, large seating areas, work stations, and lounge chairs make this an area for large gatherings, while still allowing for moments of quiet repose.