Tonawanda News

Features

April 28, 2013

BOOK NOOK: Kleinhans Music Hall, no concert tonight

(Continued)

Tonawanda News —

A much larger book could be presented about this place. This little book, more like an elaborate pamphlet, will have to suffice for now. With several dozen photographs and drawings, and enough text for a long magazine article, it may not be a bargain at fifteen dollars, but the book, part of a continuing if occasional series on local architecture, is a winner.

A chapter of the book, actually about four pages, describes the furniture the Saarinens designed for the hall — the lounge chairs, the concert seating, the restaurant in the basement. Indeed, it was common for architects to stock their creations with fixtures appropriate to their buildings. Sadly, most of the Saarinen chairs have been scattered or are otherwise missing from modern-day Kleinhans, but the book artfully explains the mission behind the work.

One evocative photograph in particular depicts the curve above the staircase to the balcony. Those of us who have attended five hundred events in that concert hall may never have noticed the Buck Rogers-like sweep of the wood in the ceiling at that spot in the foyer, and it’s a detail such as that which makes the book a pleasure to consider.

And yes, the place is full of wood (although it actually made of brick) and lacking in ornamentation, an example of early modernism expressed in curves instead of angles, and geometry instead of decoration. Since it is a concert hall, Kleinhans has an acoustic purity as well, but that is not the point of the book. 

There are untold numbers of small books available about Buffalo’s architecture, usually developed by lovers of the buildings (preservationists, architects, founders of non-profit organizations and the like), and here comes another one, about 40 pages long and as elegant and definitive as its subject. It is a snap to say it’s the best of books about Kleinhans Music Hall, if only because it is the only one, thus far.

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