The 37-acre Artpark in Lewiston, New York, straddles the Niagara River and Canadian border and has been showcasing public land art, installations, and performances for over 40 years. Now, the Artpark & Company board of directors has tapped SO-IL, urban designers and landscape architects West 8, and theater and digital design consultants Charcoalblue to create a master plan for the park that will modernize it for the 21st Century.

The Artpark was, from its conception, an artificial landscape, as it was built in a quarry on top of waste material from the construction of the Niagara Power Plant, a hydroelectric plant nearby. The new master plan takes what works about the extent park and enhances it, while overlaying three key design principles, according to West 8.

The first principle 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. Viewing platforms for land art will be created this way, surrounded by walking paths. An outdoor amphitheater is at the heart of the master plan and will be created by scooping out a deep depression and molding “mound” seats for the audience around the center stage, set against the bank of the adjacent river.

The second principle, “amplifying environments,” means hills and galleries will be treated to capture views of the surrounding Niagara river and gorges, as well as the rest of the Artpark. New bridges, paths, and viewing platforms will also be integrated.

A long park site map that shows a number of trails and circulation paths

A site map of the proposed future Artpark (Courtesy SO-IL and West 8)

The third, and most esoteric principle is “modulating frequencies,” or tuning the park’s programming to the seasons. Different performances, and new outdoor performance spaces, will build on the concerts offered in the summer and offer year-round reasons to visit.

The new master plan is the fruit of a study commissioned in 2017, and will be funded by private donors, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and Empire State Development, as the Artpark is part of the New York State Parks system.

Artpark is welcoming public feedback from residents and parkgoers and will be fielding questions about the new plan at a public forum at 6:00 p.m. on June 5 inside the Mainstage Theater.

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