Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

Search library resources
Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The Machinery Building1


IN considering a style of architecture for the Machinery Building the thought impressed itself of the fundamental idea of the Exposition - Pan-American: that is, a style expressive of "all the Americas." The logical thing to do, therefore, was to adopt the Spanish-American Renaissance, the typical style of architecture of this continent. It is a style that lends itself readily to exposition buildings, for it is not too serious and can readily be made gay and expressive of the exposition spirit. The mission building is the product of that period in Mexico and Lower California when the Jesuits and Franciscan friars practically ruled the country. They built many of these low, comfortable, arcaded, cloister-like structures. The early types, however, are too somber, though well suited, with their great covering-space, low roofs, and cool arcades, for exposition buildings. The style needs enlivenment, ornament, and color. These qualities have been taken from later and more pretentious Spanish buildings. The Machinery Building was built around a court intended to be the chief feature of the building, as it was in the old Spanish structures, their peculiar charm being due to this quiet, retired court, with its flowers and pools of water. The court, however, in this case has been taken for exposition purposes, owing to the demand for greater space by exhibitors. The façade of the building presents an arcaded, cloister-like appearance, the oak-timbered overhanging eaves producing the shadow. In the center of each face are placed the important entrances. On the north and south façade the entrances are flanked with towers, which form the most noticeable feature. The entrances between these towers are ornamented with single and double columns. They are flanked by arcades extending each way to the low corner pavilions. These are also used as entrances, and are ornamented in the manner of the Spanish Renaissance. The roofs are covered with the typical Spanish mission tile, and the window-openings with copies of the wrought-iron work peculiar to the Spanish style of building. The Machinery Building is 500 feet long by 350 feet wide, and the highest towers are 170 feet in height.


1. Text quoted directly from the Art Hand-Book, Official Handbook of Architecture and Sculpture and Art Catalogue to the Pan-American Exposition. Ed. David Gray. Buffalo, N.Y.: David Gray, 1901. Sources of the images are noted with each.