Design practices SO-IL and West 8 have won a competition to redesign a 37-acre cultural hub along New York's Niagara Gorge. The project will include a renovated main stage and an outdoor ampitheatre, as well as a series of pathways, galleries and viewing stations integrated into the canyon. The teams are tasked with the development of a strategy to revitalize the Artpark grounds, while improving connectivity, facilities and programs.
As the teams state, the main objective is to maximize overall park usage and potential focus on visitor experience, technological advancement, and ecologically conscious cultural leadership. The plan will further develop Artpark as an internationally recognized, financially sustainable destination where the arts, ecology, technology and culture interact on a broad scale with unprecedented impact year-round. With this project, Artpark advances a regional resurgence in building for the arts, nature and culture, in which visionary design is supporting the expansion and augmentation of Buffalo-Niagara cultural ecosystem.
West 8 outlined how the plan will follow three principles: the first is “revealing a new nature,” or using strategic cuts to sculpt the landscape of the park and create programmatic areas using the cuts or plateaus created. With the second, “amplifying environments,” the teams will create hills and galleries to capture views of the surrounding Niagara river and gorges. Finally, by tapping into “modulating frequencies,” teams will sync the park's programming with the seasons.
"It's going to be a place of imagination," said Florian Idenburg, founding partner at SO-IL "Because of its legacy and location, Artpark can be the site that triggers contemporary conversations around nature, art, and humanity." The new master plan will be funded by private donors, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and Empire State Development. Other members of the design team include theatre consultancy CharcoalBlue and Buffalo-based studio Gekh.
The project is expected to enter the first stage of planning and welcomes public feedback from residents and parkgoers inside the Mainstage Theater on June 5th at 6PM.