First called the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane when opened in 1880, the majestic brown sandstone and red brick buildings are known in architectural history books as the Buffalo State Hospital buildings. More recently they are included as part of the campus of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The architect for the buildings was Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). Richardson is generally regarded by architectural historians as the first of the three greatest American architects. The other two are Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The general plan for the Buffalo State Hospital buildings, a center administration building flanked by five separate-yet-connected ward buildings, was not new. The plan was devised in the late 1840s by Thomas Kirkbride, Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane in Philadelphia. However, Richardson's esthetic composition and integration of the buildings, plus his choice of materials and detailing make the complex truly outstanding.

The Buffalo State Hospital Complex was also fortunate to have renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, collaborate with Richardson on the siting of the buildings.