Artpark, Lewiston, New York, USA
Located within a 108-acre state park located on Niagara Gorge, New York, Artpark is a historic cultural entity with a deep artistic legacy. In the decades since its opening in 1974, Artpark was an important site for outdoor sculpture and experimentation with over 200 artists and collectives creating art and installations between 1974 and 1984. In the 1990s, Artpark became a collaboration between the New York State Parks and the cultural nonprofit institution Artpark & Company, ushering in larger-scale performances and events. To welcome the institution into its new chapter as a storied avant-garde venue with expanded programs, SO–IL developed the Power Artpark 2030 master plan with West 8 and CharcoalBlue to streamline the experience of art, music, parkland, and connectivity with surrounding communities.
Our design utilizes the power of the site to transform its main venue into an amphitheater landscape—equally dramatic as an environment to walk dogs as to see world-class touring shows. Connected to the site and the town, it welcomes all visitors to encounter, experience, and create art in a sublime natural setting. The expanded appeal transforms the park from being considered a summer events location into a year-round destination.
The existing amphitheater is expanded in scope to include the surrounding natural greenspace. The ground is shaped to differentiate audience seating and circulation. Operations are efficient and successful, yet fully experience the environment, sky, and view of the Niagara Gorge.
Striving to create a sustainability-conscious experience of arts, ecology, and culture year-round, we imagined a future for Artpark that embodies its history of communal interaction with art and nature. Artpark is the convergence of many kinds of power: the force of the water, the generation of electricity, artistic creation, and the power of people, to name a few. Together, these powers embody Artpark’s mission to fuel and fuse art + nature + culture. In this vision, as outlined by cultural psychologist Anton Shilov Brou in his essay “Poetics of Transformation” Artpark functions as a total work of art where artistic immersion combines artificial and natural elements in the makeup of the landscape to suggest that art, nature, and culture are inherently linked.