Outdoor common areas are looking a lot more appealing these days. So is the brilliant concept of removing disruptive highways that run along waterfronts and through city centers.
Take, for example, the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls. The removal of this “parkway” has allowed the Aquarium of Niagara to move forward with the construction of “Whirlpool Commons,” a place-based outdoor improvement project that will second as a fabulous new entranceway to the Niagara Falls attraction.
Whirlpool Commons is made possible thanks to the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway, which had previously separated the Aquarium from other destinations, attractions, and amenities in the downtown district.
The creation and implementation of Whirlpool Commons was also made possible thanks to $250,000 from the Niagara River Greenway Commission, through the City of Niagara Falls Host Community. The effort goes a long way towards bridging the Niagara Falls State Park and Greenway Corridor.
“With this new Aquarium of Niagara project, we’re seeing how Governor Cuomo’s efforts to remove the Robert Moses Parkway are revitalizing Niagara Falls and allowing residents and visitors to reclaim the waterfront,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “Congratulations on the creation of an outdoor welcome plaza that will further reimagine the aquarium and transform the surrounding parkland.”
Aside from being a visually appealing gathering place and a grand entranceway to the Aquarium, Whirlpool Commons will also be a central hub that will connect to a series of new trails and attractions along the new greenscape that was once the Parkway. The feature will also present new collaborative opportunities for the Aquarium, while allowing for enhanced educational programming centered around the Aquarium’s conservation priorities.
“Whirlpool Commons is an important milestone in the advancement of the Aquarium’s strategic initiatives.” said Gary Siddall, President and CEO of the Aquarium of Niagara. “This project is part of a concentrated effort to provide increased accessibility and movement while drawing visitors to the multitude of new experiences offered by the Aquarium.”
“We are excited to partner with the Aquarium of Niagara on their plaza development, which is positioned at the head of our spectacular new Gorgeview Shoreline Trail segment heading north and connecting City of Niagara Falls and New York State Parks to Gorge attractions,” said Greg Stevens, Executive Director of the Niagara River Greenway Commission. “It will be exciting to see how this project will launch the Aquarium into more outdoor ecological education for our youth.”
Aside from enhancing visitors’ experiences pertaining to the ecological history and heritage of the revived corridor, the new addition is also intended to spur more outdoor development, by spotlighting the area’s economic viability.
“I’m proud to congratulate the Aquarium of Niagara on their continued efforts to grow as an attraction here in the City of Niagara Falls, drawing both residents and visitors alike with their latest and greatest exhibits,” said Mayor Robert Restaino. “This new outdoor opportunity will add yet another way to connect visitors of the Falls to the Aquarium, while also providing yet another unique outdoor space for events and visitors of the Aquarium. I am excited for the City to be a part of their continued efforts to update and innovate the Aquariums exhibits as we move into 2021 and the future.”
“This project is a natural extension of the Aquarium to further integrate into the greenspace development along the rim of the gorge,” said Michael Mistriner, Vice President of Clark Patterson Lee’s Buffalo office – the firm has been designated as the designer for Whirlpool Commons.
The project has an “aggressive timeline” with construction beginning immediately, and a projected completion date of summer 2021.