The Buffalo Skyway, a four-lane limited access expressway, extends four miles along the City’s Lake Erie waterfront, and carries almost 40,000 trips per day of commuter traffic as part of the regional highway system. Completed in 1955, the Skyway was originally designed to connect truck traffic from multiple large and small factory complexes and the Port of Buffalo to the then-fledgling interstate highway system. Today, the highway is primarily a commuter corridor that acts as a major barrier to the Buffalo waterfront and its emerging revitalization.
The “Aim for the Sky: Buffalo Skyway Corridor Competition” was conceived by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as an opportunity to reimagine the Buffalo Skyway Corridor, defining a clear vision for the City of Buffalo’s waterfront and helping inform the direction for investment in placemaking and economic development opportunities. More than 100 proposals from local, national and international teams were submitted during the first round of the competition, including the City of Lights: Re-View the Waterfront proposal submitted by the team of SWBR Architects, Fisher Associates, and The MRB Group. The SWBR/Fisher Team’s proposal was one of nine among 20 shortlist submissions announced after Round 1 of the competition. In a ceremony held by Governor Cuomo in Buffalo on September 2019, the City of Lights: Re-View the Waterfront proposal submitted by the SWBR/Fisher Team was announced as the winning submission, receiving the top prize of $100,000.
The City of Lights: Re-View the Waterfront submission called for removal of the Skyway (Church Street to Prime Street) along with the access ramps, making 12 acres available for development in downtown Buffalo and Canalside. The Skyway bridge over the Buffalo River would remain and be re-purposed as “Skyway Park,” an overlook/trail and sculptural element. South of the bridge, the Skyway’s elevated expressway section would be removed, and the land redeveloped for mixed uses. Following the competition, the New York State Department of Transportation commenced a fast-tracked environmental review of the project, with anticipated construction within the next two years.