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Hubbard and Wright Prototypes Combined in the East Aurora Village Shopping Center
Grey Street, East Aurora, NY

1999-2002 Remodeling Chief Architect:
Patrick J. Mahoney
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Architect's conceptual drawing of the façade - South elevation

Architect's conceptual drawing of the façade - South elevation

Architect's conceptual drawing of building in construction across Grey St. (Grey St. Plaza)

Photos taken 2003
Click on illustrations to enlarge

Shopping Center prototype: Wright's Midway Gardens


The Village Shopping Center in East Aurora, N.Y. began as a neighborhood shopping center in the late 1960's and followed a polo barn theme referencing the nearby Knox estate. Over the years many additions and minor alterations made it difficult to discern the original design.

Williamsville VS. East Aurora

In 1996, Patrick J. Mahoney of Lauer-Manguso Architects was asked to develop a theme to integrate a modern supermarket into a renovated shopping center. Benderson Development Co. originally asked Mahoney to duplicate a Williamsville project he had recently completed known as the Walker Center. He felt a different approach would be more appropriate for East Aurora. Mahoney's intent for this design was not only to integrate a new supermarket into a sizable existing shopping center but, in fact, to utilize the opportunity to reference the unique history of the Village of East Aurora.

East Aurora and the Roycroft Campus

The National Historic Landmark, Roycroft Campus and its creator, Elbert Hubbard, were the seeds of this design. The arts and crafts colony Hubbard created was an evolving community prematurely deprived of its originator in1914, due to the death of Elbert Hubbard in the sinking of the Lusitania. Hubbard had been the partner of John D. Larkin in the Larkin Soap Companyand was the driving force behind the early success of the Company which would grow to become one of the largest mail order companies the world had known.

Hubbard and Wright

Elbert Hubbard's young protégé was Darwin D. Martin, a soap salesman molded into a financial genius by Hubbard. As Martin became comfortable in his major role in the Larkin Company, Hubbard, in the prime of his career, retired and soon began the Roycroft Colony in East Aurora. Darwin D. Martin assumed a leading role upon Hubbard's departure from Larkin Co. in 1878, and was responsible for the choice of Chicago architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, in the design of the masterpiece that was the Larkin Administration Building, adjacent to the Larkin Factories in Buffalo.

As the Roycroft Campus evolved, new buildings provided variations on the Arts and Crafts theme first established in the 1890's. Darwin Martin, still a close friend to Elbert Hubbard, continually attempted to bring the two geniuses together, To many observers, the Mission style that Roycroft woodworkers produced and the Prairie style that Wright had developed were variations on the same ideal. Martin hoped, in the ever-changing evolution of the campus, that Wright would have the opportunity to leave his mark on a structure within the complex.

Roycroft Campus & the Midway Gardens

Hubbard's premature death ended the hopes of a collaboration between the Roycrofters and Frank Lloyd Wright, although Wright was known to have stayed at the Inn around 1927. Faced with the need to renovate the existing shopping center and develop an appropriate theme for the new construction, the idea was adopted to reference the collaboration that never happened. The Roycroft Campus itself became the reference from Hubbard's perspective -- and the Midway Gardens, a 1914 Wright commission (demolished in 1929) became the reference source of Frank Lloyd Wright's work.

Mahoney, and Lauer-Manguso designers Richard Olmstead, Kevin Payne, Arthur Smith, Ron Calvo,and George Spears Jr. began to study not only the existing shopping center but also what an appropriate blend of the two major influences could be. James W. Manguso was the principal in charge of the project.

The non-consistent facades of the shopping center were to be unified with a simple design punctuated by varied elements at major tenants or masking the irregular nature of the existing center. Many additional Lauer-Manguso staff members help create the construction drawings necessary.

The design reduced the overall height of the building but created a theme by introducing variations. This was accomplished by using open elements that would not restrict snow on the existing roofs. Even with this redesign it was required to completely rebuild the canopy structure of the complex and to reinforce isolated areas of the roof. By transferring the drifting snow areas to new canopy construction along with the reinforcement, a safe structure was built.

Structural engineering was completed under the direction of engineers Lauri Traynor and Joe Staats.

Derek Watts and Fred Strano supervised the project for Benderson Development.

Granite stonework was obtained from a quarry in Great Valley, N.Y. and installed by Brawdy Masonry. Synthetic stucco was installed by Gypsum Systems.

The construction was completed by 2003, although minor properties bordering the center have continued to be renovated to coordinate with the theme through 2005.

Photos and their arrangement © 2003 Chuck LaChiusa
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