Rick Smith didn’t set out to save the honeybees.
Elevator B rises from the industrial wasteland of Buffalo, New York. But it’s not just art, it’s also what might be the most beautiful working beehive you’ve ever seen.
Rick Smith didn’t set out to save the honeybees. Instead, when the Buffalo business owner purchased a 15-acre plot of land along a bend in the Buffalo River just east of Lake Erie in 2006, he planned to build an ethanol plant there. Once part of the largest grain port in the world, the property was dotted with century-old grain elevators and towering, concrete silos that could store nearly a million bushels of corn. But when the ethanol boom went bust in 2008 amid soaring corn prices, so too did Smith’s Rust-Belt revival plan.
Now Smith is revitalizing the land, known as Silo City, on a more modest scale. After finding a rogue bee hive on the second floor of a derelict office building there, Smith commissioned a competition among 10 teams of architecture students from the University at Buffalo to design a new home for the insects that would both shelter them and showcase their fragile existence. Since 2006, a mysterious phenomenon known ascolony collapse disorder has drastically reduced the country’s population of honeybees, which pollinate most of our fruit and vegetable crops.
Completed in June, Elevator B is a 22-foot-tall steel, cypress, and glass structure with a silhouette that mirrors the grain silos surrounding it. Bees live inside the tower in a cypress “bee cab,” which can be raised and lowered on a pulley by a beekeeper. A laminated glass bottom allows visitors who step inside the 4-foot-wide hexagonal tower to glimpse the bees at work. “It’s a symbol for the regeneration of the site on an environmental and economic level,” says Courtney Creenan, one of the five students who designed and built the winning project.
via FastCoExist – ANITA HAMILTON
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