M&T Bank - Table of Contents

Exterior - M&T Bank
One M&T Plaza, , Main Street at North Division, Buffalo, NY




Minoru Yamasaki assisted by Duane Lyman and Associates


International  / New Formalism

General contractor:

John W. Cowper Co.

Steel supplier:

Bethlehem Steel Co.



Plaza Sculpture:

Harry Bertoia

Exterior building material:

  • 3300 tons of V-50 tubular steel for columns
  • 2700 tons of additional steel
  • High density white marble concrete
  • First two floors are faced with white Taconic (from Vermont) and green marble.

Total cost:

$12 million

Bank founded:

Manufacturers and Traders Bank (photo) founded by Pascal Pratt and Bronson Rumsey in Buffalo in 1856

Earlier buildings on the site:

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Seated: Minoru Yamasaki and M&T President Charles W. Millard, Jr 
Standing: M&T Executive Dudley M. Irwin and [Buffalo] Architect Duane Lyman
Source: M&T files / Buffalo News, August 28, 1963

The core - March 1966                               Source: "M&T Observer," May 10, 1967

Source: M&T files / Courier Express, March 18, 1966

Caption: Superstructure towers over downtown Buffalo - May 1966.                                 Source: "M&T Observer," May 10, 1967

Facade and South elevation

2006 photo

Bottom floor: white marble facing                            Upper floors: high density concrete with smaller pores (self-cleaning during rain)                            2002 photo

4,000 windows glazed with heat-absorbing glass extending from floor to ceiling on each floor                               2002 photo

High density white marble concrete with smaller pores. The precast concrete facade is embedded with chips and dust of white Georgia marble and white silica sand ground to a satin finish.                               2002 photo

2016 photo

Main entrance with Harry Bertoia fountain in foreground plaza.                            Columns are sheathed in white Taconic marble from Vermont                     2002 photo

Bertoia fountain                        2002 photo

Bertoia fountain                            St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral  steeple in background                      Main Place Mall Tower in Main Place Mall                2006 photo

2016 photo

South and East Elevations

South elevation  ...  2015 photo

Rear / east elevation facing Washington St.             2006 photo

Including significant landscaptng next to a skyscraper was innovative on Yamasaki's part                     2022 photo

Note spandrel panels and green marble, details below                   2022 photo

Spandrel panels                         2022 photo

Spandrel panels: bronze-toned, anodized aluminum with a slender rose-bud vase design embossed on it  (2002 photo)                        Another example of 
Yamasaki-decorated spandrel panels: IBM Building

Marble detail.           2022 photo

Rear (East elevation, Washington St.) of building with extruding "spine" which contains mechanicals like elevator shaft, heating equipment., plumbing, etc.                21 story spine constructed in two weeks using the continuous pour slip form method developed in Buffalo in 1906 for grain elevtors                   2002 photo

East elevation on Washington Street

Looking into the building on Washington Street (east elevation)

Minoru Yamasaki’s One M&T Bank Building,an outstanding example of an International style office building.

With the M&T Building, Yamasaki incorporated a design that was later fully realized in his design for the World Trade Center in New York. The building’s vertical support-columned exterior with larger, elongated windows at the top floors allow for expansive, openwork spaces with no interior columns.

The base of the building has a white and green marble exterior while only white marble is used on the upper.

M&T Bank Building is part of the City’s iconic architectural legacy.

- 2013 Preservation Ready Survey of Buildings Downtown, Northlandand Fougeron/Urban Survey Areas  Section 4, p. 30 (online May 2016)

Minoru Yamasaki, (born December 1, 1912, Seattle, Washington, U.S.—died February 6, 1986,Detroit, Michigan), American architect whose buildings, notable for their appeal to the senses, departed from the austerity often associated with post-World War II modern architecture.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (online Dec. 2018)

Now that I’m about to turn seventy I finally feel able to reveal a shameful secret: I was a teenage Yamasaki addict. I have no good excuse for why I got hooked, but Minoru Yamasaki was the first contemporary architect who entranced me.

Photo source: Princeton U: Robertson Hall (online Dec. 2018)

I had already begun my architectural self-education with the early writings of Ada Louise Huxtable in The New York Times, where in 1962 she praised the plans for Yamasaki’s Robertson Hall of 1961–1965 (home of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs) for the way in which “Greco-Roman and Far Eastern influences blend in a series of slender classic columns of Oriental lightness, in a top floor suggesting the cornice of a temple, and in a reflecting pool” and for how “the undertones of the past emerge subtly in a quite advanced and experimental construction.” I thought it was wonderful, too. ...    white quartzite colonnade of Yamasaki’s newly completed PrincetonParthenon. 

- Martin Filler, Review of Minoru Yamasaki: Humanist Architecture for a Modernist World    (online March 2019) 

Minoru Yamasaki, who practiced in the Detroit area for over forty years, was one of the world's best-known architects in the early 1960s, appearing on the cover of Time magazine, serving on President Kennedy's committee to redesign Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., and being selected to construct the World Trade Center in New York, which was briefly the tallest building in the world.

His popularity arose from a unique form of architecture developed in the 1950s which melded his interest in invoking feelings of "serenity" and "delight" with insights gained from studying historical buildings in Europe, India, and Japan.

His work offered a gentler, more decorated style of modernism distanced from the obsession with function or structure that characterized muchof contemporary architecture.

- Sarah Cox, "Yamasaki's Most Important Architecture In & Around Detroit," Curbed Detroit, 2013 (online Dec. 2018)

Yamasaki’s early training and experience were influenced by the austerity and practicality of the Modern and International Style movements. However, in 1955, his perspective on the state of architecture and his personal aesthetic ambitions substantially changed. That year, he was commissioned to design the U.S. Consulate in Kobe, Japan. While there,he took the opportunity to embark on an architectural heritage tour of Japan, Italy, and India. Having never traveled outside the U.S., thetrip proved to be eye-opening and career changing.

As he described in his 1979 autobiography, the Japanese temples hidden amongst the crowded city streets made a particular impact. He was most taken, he said, by the element of surprise he experienced when emergingfrom the city’s commotion into the temple’s peaceful gardens and pools. In Italy, he studied Renaissance architecture in Venice and Rome,admiring their public squares and soaring Gothic cathedrals, whose texture and ornamentation are unmatched anywhere. Finally, he visited India and was awed by the sense of aspiration that the Taj Mahal’s silhouette against the skyline elicited in him.

From these travels, Yamasaki developed an architectural philosophy that shaped the rest of his career. He openly eschewed the monotonous “glass boxes” that his contemporaries designed. Instead, Yamasaki sought to humanize architecture by combining historic decorative elements with new technology. In a 1962 speech in Seattle, he articulated his disillusionment with modern architecture, declaring itto be in a state of anarchy.

Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable perhaps best described it in a1962 New York Times article: “The work is so characteristic of its designer that it could be picked out as Yamasaki’s in any simple guessing game,” she wrote. “There are pools and plants, skylights and courts, domes, vaults, arches, arcades, canopies and colonnades. Materials are sumptuous; surfaces are intricate. These are exotic,elaborate designs intended to delight the senses.”

He did all of this using innovative structural engineering methods and modern materials, such as pre-cast concrete. Although frequently criticized for being over-decorated like “wedding cakes” or “jewelry boxes,” his designs were also often praised for being interesting, if not beautiful to experience. At the very least, his work never lacked controversy and was always distinctly Yamasaki.

- Denise McGeen, "Minoru Yamasaki (Dec. 1, 1912 - Feb. 7, 1986 )," in HistoricDetroit.org (online Dec. 2018)


Special thanks to M&T Manager Corporate CommunicationsC. Michael Zabel for his assistance in 2006
Except where noted otherwise, color photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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