New York Construction Report staff writer
Construction will now start on transforming the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center into Great Lakes 360 — a new space for Great Lakes-focused exhibits.
“We are forging a new path forward for Niagara Falls — making targeted investments that will help draw tourists and transform the community,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “The Niagara Heritage Gateway Project and Great Lakes 360 will bring exciting new developments to the city’s downtown, attracting new visitors, stimulating the local economy and making the community an even better place to live.”
The $12 million Niagara Falls Heritage Gateway Project focuses on the northern and southern ends of a proposed Downtown Niagara Falls Heritage Path. New York-based firm Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) has been selected to lead the design.
The scope of the Gateways Project will include:
- reinterpreting a stretch of the historic Niagara Falls Power Company’s hydraulic canal as an engaging public plaza
- constructing an observation deck along the border of Niagara Falls State Park – design will preserve existing tree coverage and provide opportunities for outdoor seating
- transforming DiFranco Park into a multi-use pavilion for outdoor performances
- creating a pocket park at the corner of Buffalo Avenue and 1st Street
- establishing an interpretive park at the Cataract House Hotel historic site
The Niagara Falls Heritage Gateways project is funded by the state with $10 million through Buffalo Billion II and $2 million through the Regional Revitalization Partnership. Build out of the project is expected in 2024.
The $5 million Great Lakes 360 project will be a living museum that highlights the notable wildlife of the Niagara River and the larger Great Lakes ecosystem while celebrating the area’s unique geological history.
Under an agreement with NY Parks, the Aquarium will renovate the vacant building, creating new space for Great Lakes-focused exhibits aptly situated along the new greenspace created through the recently completed removal of the former Robert Moses Parkway.
Great Lakes 360 is fully funded following a recently announced $1 million capital grant through Market NY and a previously announced $675,000 ESD grant.
The project builds on more than $10 million in capital improvements the Aquarium has made since 2018 and demonstrates the Aquarium’s commitment to enhancing the visitor experience through dynamic and engaging attractions.
“State Parks is proud to partner with the Aquarium of Niagara to repurpose this unique facility. It is perfectly suited to tell the story of the Great Lakes and will complement the main facility while providing another option for year-round recreation in Niagara Falls,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid.
The Aquarium of Niagara is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. With our community and our partners, we celebrate our natural wonders and inspire people to make a difference for aquatic life.
“We’re thrilled to continue our work with New York State in Niagara Falls with an expanded team including landscape architects Hargreaves Jones. The Niagara Falls Heritage Gateways Project is a chance to demonstrate how thoughtful design can restore rather than remake our cities in collaboration with the local community,” said Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) Founder and Creative Director Vishaan Chakrabarti said. “Public infrastructure is at the center of successful urbanism—we applaud New York State for championing public spaces and architecture that connect us to our narratives, to our environment, and to one another.”