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ECHDC board approves next phase of grain elevator and bridge lighting

by jmaloni

Press release

Wed, May 8th 2013 01:30 pm

Projects approved today promote Gov. Cuomo's vision for a revitalized waterfront

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. board of directors met today to approve a contract that will move forward a plan to illuminate and activate grain elevators and bridges along Buffalo's waterfront, building on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's vision for a revitalized Buffalo waterfront. With a contract amount of $1.5 million, Ambiances Design Productions and Foit-Albert Associates will provide lighting design and engineering services for the final design of phase 1 of the Grain Elevator & Bridges Illumination Project.

"Gov. Cuomo has targeted the revitalization of the Buffalo and Western New York as a priority that will contribute to the overall strength and vitality of New York state," said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia. "We believe it is important to create visually interesting and appealing components along the waterfront that will attract visitors to downtown, lead to private investment, and also make the citizens of Buffalo proud of the rich history and the redevelopment of their waterfront."

In March, ECHDC approved a phased master plan to install various lighting installations within Buffalo's impressive collection of grain elevators and bridges. This significant project is now moving into implementation of Phase 1. These structures serve as a reminder of Buffalo's industrial and commercial importance and a proud time of economic development. Buffalo is in the process of reinventing and repositioning itself in the community's eyes as a cultural powerhouse and a true economic developer. ECHDC said this project is a symbol of the transformation.

Phase 1 includes illumination of the connecting terminal grain elevator, Skyway and Ohio Street bridge, as well as the completion of concept and marketing studies for an approximately 45-minute multimedia show at the connecting terminal. If final construction estimates are under budget and potential outside funding sources are realized, ECHDC will move forward with final design and construction for the illumination of the Michigan Street bridge and illumination and animation of the General Mills industrial complex.

An $846,191 contract for consultant services with Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was also approved. ECHDC contracted with BRV in June to develop a vision and activation plan for additional amenities, programs and/or events for the spaces within and adjacent to the canals and public environments. The goal was to create a compelling destination that attracts a diverse audience and supports the public amenities currently under construction. BRV completed all the tasks and presented a plan for the improvements and activation of the Aud block for inaugural winter and summer seasons. As a result of the work completed by BRV, ECHDC advertised for "Canalside Public Space Phase 2" to develop and implement the multifaceted activation plan, and BRV was awarded the contract.

The board also authorized a three-year, $264,550 contract with Arts Services Initiative of Western New York for programming and coordination services along the Buffalo River. In 2012, ASI successfully administered the release of funds to 15 organizations that provided 177 free events to the public between May and October.

The funding source for these contracts is proceeds payable to ECHDC pursuant to the New York Power Authority Relicensing Agreement.

According to the ECHDC:

Grain Elevators & Bridges Project - Scope of Work

Illumination of the Connecting Terminal

This particular grain elevator presents the ideal urban situation to receive a significant visual intervention. Its location and position provides a direct visual link to Canalside across the water. It anchors one of the water gateways into the Buffalo River, and can act as a luminous beacon fronting Lake Erie. The first phase of the visual concept for the connecting terminal will be a kinetic lighting installation that will operate year-round. The kinetic lighting installation, similar to the Aurora Borealis Project in Quebec City, will be permanently installed on the grain elevator. Multiple schemes based on a narrative theme would be programmed and displayed. This evolving light show will transform the structure into a contemplative artistic lighting installation and keep visitors coming back to the site to see the different light sequences while enjoying their time at Canalside.

The project team will complete lighting and thematic design; electrical and structural engineering; and provide complete contract documents for ECHDC to bid out the construction and installation of the illumination. The project team will provide its services during the bidding phase and for construction administration, and will commission the project upon construction completion. The project team will also be responsible for cost estimating and effective coordination with property owners and involved agencies and stakeholders.

Connecting Terminal Show - Show Concept Study & Market Study

This project component consists of the design and elaboration of an original concept for an outdoor multimedia show. Supporting visual material, which would be used to communicate and promote the project to ECHDC partners (further described in the scope of services and deliverables section), would comprise the main deliverable for this project. More specifically, the project objective is to define and determine the type, form, and the main themes of the storyline with the objective of creating a multimedia show of ± 45 minutes in length, supporting the tourism industry development strategy of the greater Buffalo area, to be viewed by the general public.

▪ Creative team meeting and research in order to explore possible themes, resources, sites;

▪ On-site brainstorming meeting with client and local resources;

▪ Project strategy and data acquisition

▪ Preliminary script writing;

▪ Preliminary budget in line with required resources;

▪ Production of concept sketch and rendering;

▪ Production of a teaser video;

▪ Keynote presentation design and production; and

▪ On-site client presentation

The second part of this project is the preliminary market study. Ambiances Design Production Inc., along with CROP, will investigate the elements that define Buffalo's image and how the multimedia show project might impact this perception and generate tourism.

This study will answer some fundamental questions, such as:

  • How do Buffalo residents perceive their own city?
  • What do they associate the city with?
  • Do tourists/visitors hold a different view of the city?
  • How does Buffalo fare against other destinations in the region (Niagara Falls, Toronto, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, etc.)?

Other questions relate more directly to the show project itself, and how effective it can be at molding perceptions of the city:

  • Is the current project likely to improve the perception of residents?
  • Are some iterations more effective than others?
  • What iterations are most likely to drive tourists/visitors to come to the city (i.e., increase interest? Frequency of visits? Length of stay?
  • Is the show project likely to elicit positive reactions in the community?
  • If not, how can it be positioned for minimum push-back?

Based upon the investigation and analysis, the team will present a detailed report on the feasibility and market potential for the show. ECHDC anticipates conducting strategic outreach based on the final reports to identify potential partners to continue the development of the show.

Skyway

The underside of the Buffalo Skyway bridge from downtown to the outer harbor is best suited to accept a kinetic lighting installation, which would complement the intervention at the connecting terminal and further support the public activities at Canalside. Because of its physical presence hovering above Canalside and the Buffalo River, the Skyway deserves attention and can be transformed into a dynamic canopy of light. This lighting installation will also contribute to the overall ambient lighting strategy for the area. The lighting design will be designed in a way to communicate with the illumination of the connecting terminal.

The project team will complete lighting and thematic design, electrical engineering and structural engineering, and provide complete contract documents for ECHDC to bid out the construction and installation of the illumination. The project team will provide its services during the bidding phase and for construction administration, and will commission the project upon construction completion. The project team will also be responsible for cost-estimating and effective coordination with property owners and involved agencies and stakeholders.

Ohio Street Bridge

This bridge is a central figure within the grain elevator district and the connection between Canalside and the outer harbor. ECHDC is currently designing the infrastructure improvements along the Ohio Street corridor, and the illumination of this bridge is a significant corridor component. Each of the structural towers at either end will be illuminated as vertical icon gateways. By grazing the exterior structure of the bridge deck, the bridge will become a character in the overall narrative and journey through the Ohio Street corridor and on to the outer harbor. The addition of light will also provide ambiance for the recreational boaters utilizing the Buffalo River.

The project team will complete lighting and thematic design; electrical and structural engineering; and provide complete contract documents for ECHDC to bid out the construction and installation of the illumination. The project team will provide its services during the bidding phase and for construction administration, and will commission the project upon construction completion. The project team will also be responsible for cost-estimating and effective coordination with property owners and involved agencies and stakeholders.

ECHDC has prioritized the projects listed above to commence phase 1. The total budget for phase 1 to complete design and construction is $5,000,000. If final construction estimates are under budget, and potential outside funding sources are realized, ECHDC will amend the design contract to move forward with final design and construction of the following projects as "Add Alternates":

General Mills

The active General Mills industrial complex not only borders the immediate Canalside area, but adds to the public space experience by scenting the air as it produces its cereal for distribution. The visual concept for General Mills will be focused on two distinct areas. The first would be to highlight the tower with the General Mills logo with an installation of lighting fixtures that would graze the vertical structure. The second would be to animate with texture and static imagery the warehouse wall on the river's edge, which forms the southern border of wall. This becomes apparent when walking along the boardwalk at Canalside.

If additional funding is available, the project team will complete lighting and thematic design; electrical and structural engineering; and provide complete contract documents for ECHDC to bid out the construction and installation of the illumination. The project team will provide its services during the bidding phase and for construction administration, and will commission the project upon construction completion. The project team will also be responsible for cost-estimating and effective coordination with property owners and involved agencies and stakeholders.

Michigan Street Bridge

This bridge is a central figure within the grain elevator district, and the connection between Canalside and the Buffalo River. Each of the structural towers at either end will be illuminated as vertical icon gateways. By grazing the exterior structure of the bridge deck, the bridge will become a character in the overall narrative and journey through the beginning of the Buffalo River corridor and on to the outer harbor. The addition of light will also provide ambiance for the recreational boaters utilizing the Buffalo River.

If additional funding is available, the project team will complete lighting and thematic design; electrical and structural engineering; and provide complete contract documents for ECHDC to bid out the construction and installation of the illumination. The project team will provide its services during the bidding phase and for construction administration, and will commission the project upon construction completion. The project team will also be responsible for cost-estimating and effective coordination with property owners and involved agencies and stakeholders.

About Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

A nine-member board consisting of seven voting directors and two non-voting, ex-officio directors governs the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. The New York state governor recommends the seven voting directors. They are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corp., d/b/a Empire State Development, as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The Erie county executive and the City of Buffalo mayor hold the two non-voting, ex-officio director positions.

As a subsidiary of Empire State Development, the state's chief economic development agency, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. supports and promotes the creation of infrastructure and public activities at Canalside, the Ohio Street corridor and the outer harbor to attract critical mass, private investment and enhance the enjoyment of the waterfront for residents and tourists in Western New York. Its vision is to revitalize Western New York's waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo, based on the region's legacy of pride, urban significance and natural beauty.

For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.

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