Photos by kc kratt


To see the full list at a glance, click here.


363 Grant Street, winner of Best Looking New Building


Best Looking New Building

363 Grant Street

(Mathew and Chris Diano, developers; John Wingfelder, architect)

When it comes to adaptive reuse of historic architecture, the finished developments are usually easy to love. Not so much with brand-new projects; to say that recent infill structures on Elmwood have met with mixed reviews would be a kind understatement. It’s heartening, then, to be able to point to a new West Side project that has been highly, and deservedly, praised. The sleek brick, cast concrete, and glass exterior brings a sophisticated infusion of high-end residential and storefront space to an area that can use it.


Best Makeover Of An Existing Building

Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center/The Richardson-Olmsted Campus

444 Forest Ave., Buffalo; 882-1970 or

From the crumbling vacancy of its recent past, this long-underused classic complex—designed by American architect H. H. Richardson in his signature Romanesque style—returns with a roar. After years of dedication, investment, and support, the main building and nearby grounds are in full swing as a swanky yet eminently accessible destination for tourists and locals alike.


Hotel Henry Urban Resort + Conference Center/The Richardson-Olmsted Campus, winner of Best Makeover of an Existing Building


Best Sight You Won’t See Anywhere But Here

Grain Elevators

From kayaking the Buffalo river

The grain elevators and the bustling boardwalk of Canalside represent Buffalo’s industrial past and surging future. Paddling the Buffalo River, which snakes through these iconic sites, provides a view that is lovely, serene, and uniquely Buffalo.  Don’t have a kayak? Not a problem: rent one!    


Best New Construction

Evergreen Health Services

206 S. Elmwood Ave., Buffalo; 847-2441 or

With its new 33,000-foot addition, Evergreen has greatly expanded its ability to help underserved populations with specialty medical care, housing, counseling, and many other services. The addition features a senstive and stylish transition from Evergreen's historic Roanoke building, using a five-story glass atrium and a terracotta facade. Rochester-based SWBR Architects are responsible for this sophisticated design.


Best Preservation Project

Darwin Martin Complex

125 Jewitt Pkwy., Buffalo; 877-377-3858 or

As many Buffalo homeowners know, no house is ever really done. But the hard-working staff, consultants, and volunteers who have been laboring on the full restoration of the Martin House Complex—including the rebuilding of the pergola, conservatory, and carriage house; the restoration of the main house, Barton house, and Gardener’s cottage; and the creation of the Greatbatch Pavilion—deserve a big round of applause. It’s almost done. The installation of a replica of the original glass-tiled fireplace took place in June; it completes the first floor, leaving just the second floor, the Barton house, and the landscaping to finish. Not bad for a complex that was partially demolished when restoration started in the nineties.


Darwin Martin Complex, winner of Best Preservation Project


Best Use Of Taxpayer Dollars

Rails to Trails

Facebook/Queen City Rail Trails

Rails to trails transforms former railway corridors into safe paths for walking, running, and cycling. Locally, the project connects neighborhoods and towns throughout Erie County with the ultimate goal of connecting to the Erie Canalway Trail, which spans 300-plus miles across New York State.


Best Nature Preserve

Reinstein Woods Nature Center

93 Honorine Dr., Depew; 683-5959 or

Nestled in Cheektowaga, Reinstein Woods is a living classroom worth exploring. Spanning over 290 acres, the trails are well marked and provide an opportunity to see beavers, red-tailed hawks, and pileated woodpeckers. Dedicated staff and volunteers are on-hand at the visitor’s center to answer questions and share knowledge. And be sure to take advantage of the guided tours and summer programs, which are suited for nature enthusiasts of all ages. 


Most Sustainable Project

PUSH West Side housing initiatives

People United for Sustainable Housing is living up to the S in its acronym. The organization has created a twenty-five-block area on the West Side called the Green Development Zone. Within this area, PUSH has concentrated on green construction, weatherization, renewable energy, and job training. Sustainability and affordability are intertwined; with proper weatherization, low-income residents are paying less for their heating bills. More than 215 homes have been repaired and weatherized, and more than fifty affordable housing units have been created.


Best Wildlife Habitat Project

Western New York Land Conservancy native plantings

In addition to creating new sanctuaries at Stella Niagara and Owens Falls, the WNYLC has been including the removal of invasive species and the planting of natives in many of its land protection projects. They understand that native habitats are necessary to encourage biodiversity and the survival of endangered species.


Best Local Winter Escape


Botanical Gardens

2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo; 827-1584 or



An escape to the tropics is fewer than twenty miles away for most Western New Yorkers. An escape to a full-service winter wonderland is about thirty miles farther. Either way, we’re lucky to have lush natural beauty and stimulating recreational opportunities within such easy reach during the gray winter months. The Botanical Gardens has upped its ante with its Lumagination display during February (in addition to ongoing displays, workshops, and other activities), while Ellicottville continues to add amenities and facilities for those who love winter sports—and those who don’t.


Times Beach, winner of Best Nature Walk


Best Nature Walk

Times Beach

Coast Guard Station S. Rd., Buffalo;

Drive north on Fuhrmann Boulevard or take the bike ferry from Canalside to enjoy the serene beauty and abundant wildlife of Times Beach. This is one of the few nature preserves located in an urban downtown, but, thanks to the intervening Buffalo River, most Buffalonians have no idea that this refuge exists. First home to a colony of squatters, then (briefly) an actual beach, the area was used for dumping and refuse throughout the mid-century. In the seventies, environmental organizations began to advocate for the wetlands and, in 1987, it was designated a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat. Boardwalk trails, viewing blinds, and signage were added in 2004. Over 220 species of birds have been recorded at Times Beach, including local and migratory species. Careful hikers might also spot deer, turkeys, and foxes; springtime monarch butterflies pass through on their annual migratory pathways.



Best At A Glance


Best Looking New Building 363 Grant Street (Mathew and Chris Diano, developers; John Wingfelder, architect)

Best Makeover Of An Existing Building Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center/The Richardson-Olmsted Campus

Best Sight You Won’t See Anywhere But Here Grain Elevators (from kayaking the Buffalo river)

Best New Construction Evergreen Health Services

Best Preservation Project Darwin Martin Complex

Best Use Of Taxpayer Dollars Rails to Trails Facebook/Queen City Rail Trails

Best Nature Preserve Reinstein Woods Nature Center

Most Sustainable Project PUSH West Side housing initiatives

Best Wildlife Habitat Project Western New York Land Conservancy native plantings

Best Local Winter Escape TIE Botanical Gardens; Ellicottville

Best Nature Walk Times


To get next year's Best of WNY before it hits the stands and before it's online, subscribe to Buffalo Spree today!


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Recommended Reads

  1. A celebration of sponge candy
    Tasting it all
  2. West Side townhouse redo is bright and roomy
    Local developers' renovation of 237 West Utica
  3. The Review / A deep dive into The Dapper Goose
  4. On the line with Nick Schabert
    A multifunctional dining space offers special challenges
  5. The Dirt / Crimes in the name of landscaping
    Veteran landscapers talk about their pet peeves and what consumers need to know

Add your comment: