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Utica station renamed to honor local architect Robert T. Coles

Robert T. Coles, who passed away in 2020, designed the station.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — On Wednesday the NFTA unveiled the new name of the Utica Street station. 

It's named after the Black architect and Buffalo resident who designed the station, Robert T. Coles.

On Wednesday, officials met outside the station to unveil the new signage.

Last year Mayor Byron Brown called for the NFTA to rename the station in honor of Coles who passed away in May of 2020. Brown said naming a station in his memory would ensure that his public legacy left a lasting mark on the community.

“Today’s renaming is a major step forward in using our city’s public spaces to honor the history and contributions of Black artists, thinkers, clergy, inventors, architects, government leaders, educators, and others who are critical to understanding the diverse heritage of Buffalo, New York State and our nation. It also leaves a lasting mark and serves as a continuing inspiration in the community Robert Coles lived in and loved so much," Brown said.

Coles designed many other landmark buildings around the city, including the Alumni Arena and Natatorium at the University at Buffalo, the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library on Jefferson Avenue.

NFTA and UB’s School of Architecture and Planning worked together to determine a way to honor Coles. The collective decision was to rename Utica Station, which showcases Coles' modernist design style.

The NFTA said that this is only the beginning of their efforts.

"Our goal is to educate the public so they can appreciate the history design and importance of cole's work and ideally inspire the next generation of architects," Kim Minkel, NFTA executive director, said. 

"We are proud of our agency's ability to use public space like Utica station and cold springs freedom wall to help celebrate and recognize the many contributions that buffalo and its black residents have made in shaping the history and culture of our community."

The NFTA says it plans on securing funding to provide future exhibits that will foster public art and extend the principles of Cole's architecture.

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