cornell university / fall 2021 / 3 months
in collaboration with: lily jantarachota
instructors: prof. tao dufour + prof. suzanne lettieri
Our site of intervention is an axis that connects the waterfront along the Niagara Scenic Parkway, to the edge of the Buffalo Avenue/Packard Road neighbourhood. At the midpoint of the strip is where the old Adams Power Plant was located, and today the only remaining structure is the transformer house that was originally preserved to be a museum, but these plans never materialized and the building is now abandoned. The Adams’ slip, the small inlet in the waterfront, is the trace of the old canal that used to bring water inland to power the plant.
The Adams Power Plant is representative of the old industrial histories of Niagara Falls: how the development of cheap power drew many factories to the area, resulting in detrimental ecological effects. The Niagara River corridor is home to over 1200 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and plants. Wetland habitats along this corridor are extremely important for feeding, nesting, spawning, resting and cover of these animals. Wetland habitats are the most vulnerable type of shoreline condition, and thus the decades of chemical waste being dumped into the river has been detrimental to animal and plant populations. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The neighbourhood at the top of the site has the highest concentration of single-parent homes in Niagara Falls, with 19% of the households being run by single mothers. Half of the children live below the poverty line, and only 71% of households have reliable internet access. The large majority of adults don’t hold bachelor degrees, and work predominantly in ma nual labour or service industries. 
Our intervention aims to connect the residents of this neighbourhood to the waterfront, while also creating an environment of intergenerational care and education. The bike path starts at the edge of the neighbourhood, and small book exchange spots are extended beyond the start of the path to lead people to it. The path then continues above the existing railway to our main site of intervention. ​​​​​​​
Along this green strip, program branches off to provide moments of stopover. The programs of the building closest to the neighbourhood aim to encompass a well-rounded developmental environment for young children, including spaces for music, arts and crafts, reading, gardening, playing and of course, eating. The pathway and the buildings are sunk 4 feet into the ground, so that the visitor’s sense of connectivity to the landscape is enhanced. The topography is further altered and brought up to the second level of the buildings at certain moments, creating courtyard spaces that bridge between two buildings, and seating that continues downwards into the site.
The bike path then continues down the site, bridging above the road and then through the existing transformer house, which is turned into a lush forested immersive garden. It continues down to the waterfront, where the canal has been re-extended towards the old power plant. This man-made inlet is rehabilitated into a wetland habitat. The excavated dirt is used to create the berms in the child community center. The bike path finally bridges over the existing highway and lands at the edge of the Adams slip. Throughout the path, there are moments of pause as well as multiple points of entry.
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