Niagara Falls State Park Rehabilitation
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Owner: NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Lead Design Firm: TY Lin International
Construction Manager: LiRo Program and Construction Management PE PC
General Contractor: The LiRo Group; Scott Lawn Yard
The 400-acre Niagara Falls State Park site has had dozens of phased construction contracts valued at more than $70 million in the last five years.
The project integrated Frederick Law Olmsted’s original 1887 general plan with modern modifications. The park gained 21st-century infrastructure, too, with new drainage, sewer and electrical systems.
New vista outlooks and pedestrian walkways are bordered with natural limestone boulders and stainless steel railings. Those boulders are also material for walkway edging, rustic bench seating, stacked walls and accent features.
The once steep, narrow North Shore Trail was made accessible with a reshaped and graded paved surface. The project also included an invasive species management plan.
The team used a wrap-around, hanging scaffold to replace deteriorated limestone masonry. The work platform also served as a debris containment mechanism.
To recreate existing masonry, the team analyzed existing mortar to determine the composition of the original ingredients.
Several sub-surface discoveries during rehabilitation made for significant challenges. For example, underground flumes and hydraulic raceways line the river edge. The team reacted quickly to unrecorded structures and designed around them without any delay.
Finally, the renovation included transforming the park’s premier attraction, the Cave of the Winds Gorge Experience. Visitors can now start out at a queueing area that plays videos about hydroelectricity and power engineer Nicola Tesla. The interactive theater was enhanced using 3D solid modeling.
The interactive museum and visitor center serve as the entry point for visitors headed to the star attraction: the “hurricane deck” directly beneath Niagara Falls.