Niagara Parks Power Station Receives Grand Prize Award

2022 Niagara Biennial Design Awards

The Niagara Parks Power Station has received one of two Grand Prize awards at the 2022 Niagara Biennial Design Awards hosted by the Niagara Region on January 17, 2023.

The Niagara Parks Power Station and the Neil Campbell Rowing Centre in St. Catharines were awarded the two Grand Prizes of the evening, while numerous other examples of built environments from across the Region were also honoured with awards in design excellence. 

Built in 1905, as the “Canadian Niagara Power generating station”, the Niagara Parks Power Station is the only fully intact decommissioned hydroelectric plant of its period left in the world. The preservation of the one-of-a-kind facility was the first consideration in all decisions related to the adaptive reuse construction, which encompassed a comprehensive strategic conservation plan and over 75 unique construction projects.

Niagara Parks Power Station

Supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and made possible through a loan of $25 million provided by the Ontario Government, the interior generator hall first opened to the public in July of 2021, including exhibit space, a retail store, event space, offices and public washrooms that were all seamlessly integrated into the historical structure. In July 2022, Niagara Parks launched the Tunnel, a brand-new visitor experience that allows guests to travel 180 feet beneath the power station in a glass-enclosed elevator to discover the 2,200-foot tunnel that was remarkably excavated in 1901 with only lanterns, rudimentary dynamite, pickaxes and shovels. For the first time, guests can now explore the incredible underground infrastructure, including a newly constructed viewing platform where the tunnel once expelled spent water used in the station to generate hydroelectricity, offering unprecedented access to a new perspective of the lower Niagara River with unparalleled views of Niagara Falls. 

“It is an honour for the Niagara Parks Power Station to receive one of the Grand Prizes at this year’s Biennial Design Awards, hosted by the Niagara Region. We are proud to be recognized alongside so many other fantastic examples of design excellence here in Niagara. This important adaptive reuse project is a true representation of Niagara Parks’ commitment to fulfilling our mandate of cultural stewardship along the Niagara River and we are proud that this very special public space will be able to be enjoyed by future generations.”

Niagara Parks Chair April Jeffs

Launched in 2020 by the Niagara Region to replace the former Niagara Community Design Awards, the Niagara Biennial Design Awards recognize and celebrate design excellence of the built environment throughout Niagara. The awards program includes a jury panel of five design experts, including one facilitator and four jurors, who provided the following comments on the Niagara Parks Power Station:

(L-R): Niagara Parks CEO David Adames, Ron Carpenter, Senior Project Manager, Niagara Parks Chair April Jeffs, Niagara Parks COO Marcelo Gruosso and Steve Barnhart, Senior Director of Planning, Environment & Culture

“This magnificent project received a Grand Prize for its approach to adaptive reuse. It is like no other project submitted and is beautifully executed. The project displays the archaeology of modern tools and is a cultural heritage artifact of the pioneering electrical era. The roots of Niagara’s electrical power generation over the past century are skillfully captured in the design. It represents an incredible investment and the will of executing a project of such a high quality.” 

The Niagara Parks Power Station is one of three historic decommissioned power stations on Niagara Parks property. Niagara Parks is currently undertaking a competitive procurement process to identify potential proponents for the adaptive reuse of both the Toronto Power Generating Station and Ontario Power Generating Station. Both sites hold extraordinary potential for redevelopment considering their established presence in the core tourism landscape of Niagara Parks and Niagara Falls, striking architectural features and awe-inspiring locations on the brink of the upper Niagara River and within the lower Niagara Gorge. The formal Request for Proposals (RFP) will conclude in May 2023 with the successful proponent to be announced in the summer of 2023. For more information, visit niagaraparks.com/powerstationsredevelopment

For more information on the Niagara Biennial Awards and to see the full list of award winners, visit the Region’s website here.

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