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Chautauqua Amp: Final Days

The Chautauqua Amphitheater (the Amp) will be demolished starting September first.

The Amp is the massively historic center piece of the Chautauqua Institution, which has hosted some of the greatest minds of the 20th century. The design of the Amp is not big “A” architecture, but it is one of the most delightful and satisfying buildings you will ever experience. Its beauty is expressed by an indescribable essence. It is the feeling of summer in the form of wood, concrete, sound, and warm evening breezes. You cannot really design a place like this.  It becomes what it is over time, imbued with the mark of many summers and many generations. This magical place will soon be gone.

The Chautauqua Institution governing board headed by Thomas Becker has decided that history and delight are not part of the Chautauqua experience, so they are doing away with this true American treasure.

They Institution has contracted to have the Amp demolished and sent to land fill.  They plan to replace it with a biggie sized replica.  Mr. Becker will not be sticking around for the completion of the replica. He will be retiring soon after demolition has commenced. The Institution has redubbed this demolition and replacement project as a “renewal” after a local paper pointed out that their previous term for the work,”renovation”, was not quite an accurate description. Preliminary work on the new Amp was started last winter when the back-of-house was removed, perimeter foundations were installed, and dozens of mature trees removed.

If you have not seen the Amp in person you should.  You have just one week left to see this American masterpiece.






Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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