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Project Profile: Porter Avenue from Symphony Circle to Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY

Monday, February 11, 2013

Porter Avenue – Complete Street, Completed Scene

Located in the City of Buffalo from Symphony Circle to Niagara Street, this corridor is part of the historic Buffalo Olmsted Parkway System and home to a variety of destinations, including D’Youville College, Holy Angels Church, the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Kleinhans Music Hall (home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra), the Niagara Branch Library, and DaVinci High School.  What makes the corridor even more diverse and interesting is that these locations are intermixed with dozens of beautiful Victorian-era homes.

However, despite all the beauty of the homes and institutions that line Porter Avenue, the streetscape and sidewalks, curbs and lights poles were worn and in need of revitalization. It lacked complementarity to the surrounding structures and were noticeably out-of-place components of the Porter Avenue setting.

This reconstruction project created an avenue that framed the beauty of the neighborhood, giving it the unified and attractive appearance worthy of the remarkable collection of beautiful architecture that lines this historic street.

Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Techniques

Working with the City, the project developed a new set of details and specifications for tree protection that are now being used on all City projects (stay tuned for this future blog topic). Another innovative technique was the re-use of existing sandstone/slate sidewalks within the corridor at bus stops.


Due to Porter’s many historical-related issues, including the fact it’s listed on the National Historic Register as part of the Buffalo Olmsted Parkway System, extensive cultural resource, architectural, and archaeological surveys of the area were required.

Of particular note was keeping the work-site safe, not only for vehicles, but for pedestrians as well.  This was of heightened concern given the presence of Holy Angels Church, D’Youville College, and DaVinci High School which generate large volumes of pedestrian traffic.  To minimize interactions between construction and pedestrians, the work was scheduled and staged to minimize work during school sessions and to get work done during school break periods.

Exceeding Owner Needs

The City of Buffalo Department of Public Works has expressed their great satisfaction with the way that Porter Avenue was completed, from design through construction, and within budget.  Watt’s responsiveness to navigating the many issues was viewed by the City as a clutch performance.

This was an excellent example of a “complete streets” project in its incorporation of design elements that serve not only cars, but bikes and pedestrians – and through its landscaping and other aesthetic elements that visually connect the setting. All of these components make Porter Avenue a beautiful and truly completed scene.

Award Winning

The Porter Avenue project was recently awarded “Project of the Year Award, Transportation Category” by the American Public Works Association (APWA).