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Aerial Photo of Artpark

Artpark_aerial The thumbnail at left can be clicked on to yield a full-size illustration of Artpark. Note that the Amphitheater is downslope from the ArtEl, which is elevated above the ground at this point and does not present a barrier to "groundlings" wishing to take in a popular music concert in the amphitheater. Further, the ArtEl sits directly on the edge of the slope leading down into the "valley." Thus, no additional patrons can view amphitheater concerts if it is removed.

Need for space for those patrons is the reason given as the reason for the demolition of the ArtEl. This is further belied by the fact that removing the ArtEl removes a prime viewing area of the amphitheater for hundreds of patrons.

See also the photo album at the bottom of the sidebar on the left. Click on any thumbnail for a detailed view.

ArtEl, Proposed for Demo, significant part of American Postwar Architecture. Architects Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates seminal “Nonmonumental achievement” the focus of entire issue of Progressive Architecture magazine, Feb 1975

Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates (HHPA), a major American architectural firm for the past 40 years, came to the fore of American architecture with a series of arts related projects completed in the early 1970’s, Orchestra Hall in Minnapolis, the Roberty Olmsted Theater at Adelphi University, and the ArtEl at Artpark in Lewsiton. The ArtEl is proposed for demolition by the current managers of Artpark, ostensibly to make room for patrons of free popular music concerts, but more likely because of unwillingness to maintain the ArtEl and its vision. That would be to destroy a key piece of distinctly American architecture and a piece of architecture that responds beautifully to its site (unlike the Artpark theater itself, which could be anywhere).

Continue reading "ArtEl, Proposed for Demo, significant part of American Postwar Architecture. Architects Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates seminal “Nonmonumental achievement” the focus of entire issue of Progressive Architecture magazine, Feb 1975" »

Stuart E. Cohen on the ArtEl and Hardy,Holzman Pfeiffer’s take on America

[Editor’s note: the following is an excerpt from Stuart E. Cohen’s Hardy Holzman Pfieffer on America in the February 1975 Progressive Architecture magazine. Cohen recently retired as Full Professor from the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he taught from 1973 to 2002. he recived his Master’s in Architecture from Cornell in 1967 and founded his own firm in Chicago in 1972. There he was part of the “Chicago Seven,” a group of architects who held a series of influential exhibitions and symposia to encourage new approches to architecture in Chicago. A prolific writer throughout his career, Cohen (FAIA) authored “Physical Context/Cultural Context: Including It All, “ in OPPOSITIONS 2, January 1974. This article, Cohen acknowledges, was “largely responsible for introducing the concept of ‘Contextualism’ in architecture and introducing the term into the vocabulary of American archietctural theory.”]

By Stuart E. Cohen. Progressive Architecture, February 1975.

The ArtEl, L-shaped and elevated. at Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y . is a huge timber boardwalk, reminiscent of 19th Century seacoast structures. It connects two high points on the site and forms a pedestrian entrance to the park from the upper level. Originally this entrance was to have been via a pair of monumental stairs forming the lower legs of a giant letter "A" Identifying the entire Artpark complex and recalling Claus Oldenburg's projects for buildings and monuments. Oldenburg, describing his projects involving letters, writes, “Another source of the association of letters and landscape is the map of the area one has to consult. I imagine the coordinates, for example, constructed to cover the territory they fill on the map, or a colossal alphabet spilled haphazardly. . . . The characters become landmarks of the community.” The “A,” was not built, but Lewiston has a big “L” on its hillside.

The ArtEl —both traditionally American and contemporary in its function—provides, as boardwalks usually do, spectacular views, it also replaces the vendors and penny arcades in a rather unique way that may be a subtle and humorous comment on certain new leisure-associated commercial values in our society. The boardwalk's cultural vendors are artists in residence who work and interact with the stroller spectators. ArtEl’s proposition is the recreational appeal of watching art being made.

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Artpark and the ArtEl Upon Opening in 1974

By Nancy Tobin Willig [Art critic for the Buffalo Courier-Express]
Progressive Architecture, February 1975

Artpark is a new word and a fresh idea. It's free outdoor culture; it's fantasy finding a real home. A child of New York's Rockefeller administration that (like the state's council on the arts) will become precedent-setting in the world of arts and recreation.

Artpark is growing up in Lewiston, New York, a quiet historic country club suburb of nearby Niagara Falls. It was here, some eight years ago, that New York's State Senate Majority leader and Niagara Falls resident Earl W. Brydges decided to create a summer festival theater. The project, after passing through a number of hands, wound up in the lap of a newly appointed commissioner of parks and recreation, Alexander (Sam) Aldrich, in 1972. A multipurpose performing arts center, whose suitability was being questioned by state officials, was already under construction. In an effort to save what had become an expensive and a highly visible state-funded project, Aldrich's staff came upwith a daring idea: Why not create a park for all the arts on land surrounding the theater where the public could come, watch artists and performers at work, and rub shoulders with the creative process—Aldrich and Governor Rockefeller liked the idea; it was different, it was visionary, and it was possible.

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