The Ark Hub

Buffalo, NY, suffered from a severe winter storm in late 2022. A reliable disaster relief building is needed to prepare citizens for future severe colds. Ancient masonry structures that have stood in the weather for centuries provide new thinking for today’s resilient architecture. Located at Erin Basin Marina, the Ark Hub celebrates the renowned local boat culture. The form of the building visually mimics the outstretched sails and is consistent with the traditionally enduring arches and vaults.

The Ark Hub is a resilient building that withstands winter storms. The elevated entrance protects the arterial circulation from snow blockages, and the pedestrian bridge connecting to the surrounding urban contexts offers an accessible promenade.

The main programs feature a multipurpose hall that transforms into a disaster relief assembly in case of blizzards and a waterfront lounge with a deck that encourages natural engagement. Other supporting programs include a retail store, a restaurant, a collaborative classroom, a wellness gym, a linear gallery, and two outdoor amphitheatres.

The vaulted building enclosure is an innovative masonry compression shell system integrated with an FRP (fibre-reinforced polymer) tension rebar network. The translucent GFRC (glass fibre reinforced concrete) masonry units take care of both structural strength and daylight penetration. At the same time, the PCM (phase change material) fillings insulate the building from outdoor low temperatures. The topological mapping of the bricks allows for even load distribution while taking aesthetic harmony into account. In addition, the modular porcupine crib matrix under the waterfront platform aims to restore fish habitats and riverine ecology.

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