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June 9, 2017

DDC’s 8th ACE Mentor Program Examines Repurposing of Buffalo Central Terminal

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY – The New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) latest partnership with the ACE Mentor Program of New York City recently concluded with an in-depth report by 12 City high school students on how to re-open and repurpose the Buffalo Central Terminal in upstate New York.

DDC’s partnership with ACE Mentor is conducted under the DDC’s STEAM education initiative, established in 2014 as a pipeline for City students to career fields related to science, technology, engineering, art/architecture, and mathematics. Four of the students in the ACE Mentor program also received merit based college scholarships totaling $11,000 to continue their studies in architecture, engineering, and construction management.

“The ACE Mentor program is a wonderful resource for educating the future generation of engineers and construction professionals,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “I am proud of the most recent class for their accomplishments in establishing a foundation for future learning, and am pleased to know four of them will be incentivized through scholarships to continue their educations in architecture, engineering, and construction.”

In this eighth DDC session with the ACE Mentor program students completed the “Upgrade a Structure Challenge,” where they examined the art of redesigning an existing structure for purposes other than those for which it was originally intended. Students were required to consider an existing building’s sustainable, dynamic, and programmatic uses, as well as social and economic changes while “upcycling” an older structure.

The interior of Buffalo Central Terminal
The interior of Buffalo Central Terminal, which DDC’s ACE Mentor students repurposed

The students selected Buffalo Central Terminal, an art-deco structure in Buffalo, New York’s Broadway-Fillmore district. The 18-acre Terminal site with a 17-story tower operated as a train station from 1929 to 1979, and as office space for New York Central Railroad until 1968. Efforts are underway to refurbish and repurpose the property and possibly revive it as an active train station. To help fund restoration, the Terminal currently hosts 30+ public events annually.

The 12 students worked together to create a presentation about their project that could be presented at the National Design Competition hosted by the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT). They were required to explain their intentions for the building, the reasoning behind it, and how they would reconstruct the building including details on a proposed redesign, construction materials, building techniques, and estimated cost.

Aiming to repurpose the structure into a hub of recreational space and business incubation, the students worked with DDC architects and engineers to develop a final proposal that would re-open the building for use as a rail terminal, adding a library and education spaces, entertainment opportunities for the community, food and dining options, and a recreational center.

They included sustainability options as well such as stormwater harvesting, solar panels, and windmills. The team claimed that their repurposing of the Terminal would bolster the local economy, improve transportation infrastructure, and help fulfill the needs of students and sports research centers in and around Buffalo. Their estimated cost for the potential project was $245 million.

A schematic diagram of the Buffalo Central Terminal
A schematic diagram of the DDC ACE Mentor program’s repurposing of the Buffalo Central Terminal in upstate New York

“We are trying through this mentorship program to recruit for the future of the industry,” said DDC’s Lead ACE Mentor Brandon Schumacher. “The engagement between students and professionals is rewarding for both sides, and makes sure we have quality successors when our time in the industry is up.”

Students in the eighth DDC ACE Mentor program came from Bard High School, Robert F. Wagner High School, Long Island Lutheran, Energy Tech, Curtis High School, NYCISCHOOL, and the Bronx Academy of Health Careers. The ninth installment of the ACE Mentor program at DDC will begin in October 2017. Application details can be found on DDC’s website

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit