Architecture and design firm SO – IL, landscape architects West 8, and theater design consultancy Charcoalblue selected
First community engagement forum set for Wednesday, June 5, at Artpark Mainstage Theater
The Artpark & Company board of directors has confirmed selection of the lead design team for its master plan: Internationally recognized architecture and design firm SO – IL; landscape architects West 8; and theater, acoustics and digital design consultancy Charcoalblue. They are tasked with the development of a strategy to revitalize the Artpark grounds, while improving connectivity, facilities and programs.
A press release stated, “With the objective to maximize overall park usage and potential focus on visitor experience, technological advancement, and ecologically conscious cultural leadership, the Artpark master plan will be conducted on the highest level of contemporary design and technology. 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.”
Florian Idenburg, founding partner at SO – IL, said, “Our team at SO – IL, alongside with our partners at West 8 and Charcoalblue, are particularly excited about working with Artpark on an imaginative transformation that builds out its current strengths and propels this energetic place far into the 21st century. Because of its legacy and location, Artpark can be the site that triggers contemporary conversations around nature, art, humanity and inspiring insights. Artists can experiment here with large-scale installations where once-temporary installations of floating structures hovered above its ravines. Where multi-ton steel beams were dropped from cranes, plunging into the earth, storied musicians will draw crowds closer together. Artpark is a place of imagination.”
Artpark & Company Executive Director Sonia Kozlova Clark said, “Artpark is a unique destination where arts, nature and culture fuse into unforgettable experiences. Our vision is to ensure its long-term growth as a true cultural tourism destination in New York state. The profound transformation we are envisioning is going to take a deep level of careful analysis, visionary thinking and community involvement, and I am grateful for all the funders and the minds that have been supporting this process along the way.”
Mark V. Mistretta, Western District director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “New York State Parks is proud to be a partner with Artpark & Company and is very excited with this selection. As one of the most unique state parks in our system, we look forward to creating a year-round destination that will celebrate the full spectrum of art, nature, culture and technology.”
The master plan is funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Empire State Development, and individual donors. It is the next step in an extensive and multifaceted study Artpark commenced in 2017 with funding provided by the John R. Oishei Foundation, Cullen Foundation and Grigg Lewis Foundation.
“Artpark is an important cultural institution that gives visitors to the Niagara Falls region another beautiful destination to see while they’re here, encouraging longer stays and more spending in the region,” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky.
James Tighe, director of parks and trails initiative at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr., Foundation, said, “Artpark is a significant asset along the Niagara Gorge, as well as the Shoreline Trail. We’re thrilled to support this master plan and the revitalization of a regional cultural hub.”
Paul Hogan, executive vice president of The John R. Oishei Foundation, said, “The transformation of Artpark is essential to development along the Niagara River and Lake Erie, and completes, in a profound way, what Western New York will be able to offer in cultural and natural heritage. It will restore the heart of the original vision of the park, and add in exciting aspects of technology, focusing much of it all on interpretations of ecology and the environment, all while expanding the scope of artistic offerings and opportunities for visitors to engage. It will be an outstanding evolution.”
Artpark will host a public forum to discuss the master plan at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, inside the Mainstage Theater, 450 S. Fourth St., Lewiston. This free event will introduce early ideas and ask for feedback from residents and stakeholders. Those planning to attend should RSVP to [email protected].
About the Master Plan Team
•Founded in 2008 by Idenburg and Jing Liu, SO – IL is an internationally recognized architecture and design firm based in New York. It designs and produces spaces for creativity, innovation, culture, learning and living around the world.
SO – IL has been nationally recognized for its innovative museum design for the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis. The firm is currently transforming a historic glass plant into a multi-venue performing center in northern France, as well as reenvisioning the 4.5 acre arts precinct in the city center of Melbourne, Australia.
•With a multi-disciplinary approach to complex design issues, West 8 has extensive experience in large-scale international urban master planning and design, landscape interventions, waterfront projects, parks, squares and gardens, such as Governors Island and Madrid Rio. It creates multifaceted concepts and visions for significant planning issues that address global warming, urbanization and infrastructure. West 8 has developed distinguished projects in cities around the world such as Copenhagen, London, Moscow, New York, Madrid, Hamburg, Toronto, Amsterdam, Shanghai and Seoul.
•Charcoalblue is regarded as one of the most exciting and innovative theater and acoustic consultancies in the world. It provides detailed design guidance on all aspects of theater, performance and arts projects, from concert halls and theaters to galleries, rehearsal suites and community spaces. With a background in both theater and technology, it is able to bring together artistic techniques and technological developments to produce new experiences for audiences and new possibilities for artists and creators, bridging from the theater environment to the public realm and back.
•Gekh is a Buffalo-based design studio working where the built environment, culture and media intersect. A partnership between Jordan Geiger and Omar Khan, Gekh realizes complex projects for cultural organizations, private clients and community groups. Gekh has assisted Artpark through its master plan team selection process and will continue to advise through the development of the proposals.