"New York is home to some of the nation's greatest parks and outdoor recreational opportunities that attract visitors from all across the globe, and Niagara Falls State Park is no exception," Cuomo said. "This new visitor center continues the stunning transformation of New York's most famous and most visited state park, welcoming the millions of tourists who visit each year while highlighting the unique history and beauty of the park and the entire Western New York community."
The new facility would provide expanded space for peak-time visiting and include areas for ticketing, interpretation, dining, and retail operations. The building will replace a 35-year-old structure that is no longer capable of hosting the 9 million visitors a year the park receives.
The new 28,000-square-foot visitor center will include new ticketing and information desks; interpretive museum space including an immersive experience and exhibits highlighting a diversity of topics including natural, industrial, and Indigenous American history; new concession spaces; restrooms; and associated support spaces. The glass, steel, and concrete facility has been designed to complement nature and include a rooftop solar array, green roof elements, and a separate restroom building.
Enhanced site amenities include new accessible paths, plantings, outdoor exhibits, and interpretive and wayfinding elements. The existing 7,000-square-foot regional administration building immediately adjacent to the facility will be adapted to include a multi-purpose community room, regional archives, and offices for Niagara regional interpretive staff.
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The visitor center is a signature project in the governor's NY Parks 100 initiative, which renews the commitment to investing and expanding the state park system by committing at least $440 million over the next four years. NY Parks 100 will continue investments in park infrastructure while enhancing opportunities to reach the full range of New York State's recreational and cultural offerings, including local parks and trails, regional flagship parks and historic sites, and vast wilderness parks.
The building is being designed by GWWO, a national leader in visitor center development. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2021 and wrap up in time for the 2023 tourism season.
This project will complement the $150-million revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park landscape. Launched in 2011, the Niagara Falls State Park landscape revitalization plan was a multi-year commitment to renew the park in a manner that better reflects park designer Frederick Law Olmsted's vision for the landscape. The plan renovated the park's major viewing areas including Luna Island, Prospect Point, Lower Grove, Three Sisters Islands, North Shoreline Trail, Luna Bridge, and Terrapin Point with new pedestrian walkways, enhanced landscaping, new benches, light posts, and railings. The interactive Cave of the Winds pavilion, which highlights the natural and cultural history of Niagara Falls, opened in 2017.