Elevator B

Designed and built by four architecture students from the University of Buffalo, Elevator B is a posh new home for a local population of bees.

Elevator B

The healthy (non-CCD) Silo City bee population, in its new home.

Elevator B

The 22-foot-tall tower was installed in the middle of Silo City, Buffalo’s famous cluster of decommissioned grain elevators.

Elevator B

The exterior cladding consists of hexagonal steel panels fitted together, each one perforated with small triangular voids through which bees enter and exit the hive within.

Elevator B

Inside, the "bee cab," a wooden box containing the hive, is fitted with a laminated glass bottom that lets visitors (and beekeepers) peer inside. The hive is mounted on tracks and can be lowered up and down the inside of the tower.

Elevator B

According to its designers, the tower’s form echoes that of the surrounding silos, particular in its proportions.

Elevator B

Even the experience of entering the structure and peering up the long empty shaft was crafted to replicate that of walking inside a grain elevator.

Elevator B

A door was attached to the side of the hive to give beekeepers access to the bees inside.

Elevator B

The exterior of the micro-tower…

Elevator B

…and the interior.

Elevator B

The students wanted to integrate their tower in the historic silo complex, which holds a special place in the hearts of Buffalo’s population.

Elevator B

The preexisting bee hive in a nearby structure that was scheduled for renovation. A competition was launched to find a suitable and iconic replacement for the hive.

Elevator B

Elevator B was selected as the winning design, giving the students the chance to build and install the structure on site. The bees were successfully relocated, to much regional media attention, in June 2012.

Elevator B

Elevator B was selected as the winning design, giving the students the chance to build and install the structure on site. The bees were successfully relocated, to much regional media attention, in June 2012.

Elevator B

Elevator B was selected as the winning design, giving the students the chance to build and install the structure on site. The bees were successfully relocated, to much regional media attention, in June 2012.

Co.Design

Students Build A 22-Foot-Tall Home For Local Bees

The Elevator B tower is part of a larger effort to regenerate a historic district in Buffalo.

It’s not a good time to be a bee. In the last several years, unprecedented numbers of honeybees have been killed off, and no one is exactly sure why. Some blame commercial pesticides--particularly a new breed of potent biocides called neonicotinoids. The industry, not surprisingly, has rebuffed such notions. Lawmakers in the EU just banned the use of pesticides for two years; the USDA says it needs more research before it can lend its authoritative opinion. In any case, the so-called Beepocalypse, technically Colony-Collapse Disorder (CCD), should have everyone worried.

Including designers. Concerned grad students from the University of Buffalo’s School of Architecture offer their support to the welfare of the nation’s bees with this custom-build hive tower. No, Elevator B, the 22-foot-tall structure designed for housing bees, doesn’t expressly deal head on with CCD and the issues underpinning it, but the group’s effort makes a statement about collective commitment to bee habitats.

The project grew out of a competition hosted by the University of Buffalo and local manufacturer Rigidized Metals--they asked students to design a new beehive for Silo City, Buffalo’s historic district of grain elevators. The top design would replace a large existing hive embedded in the side of a silo marked for renovation, part of a regeneration project for the area. Of the ten proposals entered, Elevator B was selected as the winner both for its inventive take on bee habitats and for its iconic form.

The scheme for Elevator B, says Kyle Mastalinski, one of the five designers behind the project (Courtney Creenan, Daniel Nead, Scott Selin, and Lisa Stern are the others), was the result of significant research on “bee architecture.”

“We worked very closely with a local beekeeper to create a structure that would be favorable for the future occupants,” Mastalinski tells Co. Design. Together, they conceived of a two-part conical structure: steel walls patterned with an array of small openings in a honeycomb motif enclose a movable “bee cab,” a hexagonal wood compartment fitted with a glass bottom to house the bees and protect them from Buffalo’s harsh winds. (The glass pane lets visitors view the bees inside the cab.)

The bees pass to and from their new home through the tiny diamond-shaped punch-outs, while beekeepers enter through an opening at the base of the miniature silo. The project’s likeness to the surrounding elevators is intentional; though far more modest in height, Elevator B’s proportions are similar to their much taller neighbors, explains Mastalinski. “The school and architects in general have always admired the grain elevators--and this project integrates the structures into the culture of our school and Buffalo at large,” he adds.

Elevator B, which recently nabbed an Architizer A+ award, is the first permanent installation in Silo City. Since it was installed last June, the project has already played an important role in accelerating the site’s regeneration program, which now includes free events, installations, and attractions--including a rock climbing wall in a neighboring silo.

Add New Comment

0 Comments