716 Transformers: The Industrial Impresario

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on

The family business — Rigidized Metals Corporation — brought Rick Smith back to Buffalo in 2000. “Engineered metal surfaces,” a sophisticated embossing technique, is how the Rigidized website describes their wares that have applications in architectural, industrial, and transportation projects. Since taking over Rigidized, Smith has added sculpture to that list, collaborating with local and international sculptors working in metals. An interest in the arts – Smith is also a musician – found fuller expression when Smith purchased four grain elevators and a 27 acre parcel adjacent to Rigidized Metal’s property. He dubbed the place Silo City and invited the community to help figure out “what the place wants to be.” Smith refers to Silo City as “a collaborative, humble place,” rather than one with a slick master plan. His contribution, among others, is Duende and the Watu Cantina, beloved arts venues that regularly showcase live music, theatrical events, poetry readings, and general bonhomie. “I love all of this,” says Smith, looking about Duende’s outdoor area, with views of the grain elevators, “It keeps me energized and I get to meet lots of interesting people all the time. And it’s one of the coolest places on the planet that I get to be a steward of for this period of time.”

716 Tips
“This is my recommended trinity of Buffalo things: go to see the Richardson Olmsted Campus, Larkinville, and then end up down here at Duende to quench your thirst.”

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.