Monday, December 10, 2012

Off Campus Program Reflection

Today marks the end of my 14-week Off Campus Program semester here in Niagara Falls, New York completing my design thesis, project notebook, journal sketchbook, and field studies on my study topic: Tourism and its Influences to the Urban Fabric of Downtown Niagara Falls, NY.

I have researched, discussed and answered my study question, what are the influences of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the urban fabric of downtown Niagara Falls, NY? All together I learned to coordinate a comprehensive project that shows the development from where I have started to where I have ended.

As a reflection of my project, I must say that the Off Campus Program was quite an experience. These experiences include: learning to develop my own design process, time management skills and to be more communicative as prospective architect in the future. I have accomplished all my academic, professional, and personal objectives/goals in the completion the Off Campus Program by learning how to document an inclusive study with partial guidance from my professors in a timely manner prior to the deadline of the project. These learned skillsets will help me adjust to the future projects to come when post-graduation comes.

I will truly miss the environment and setting of working at your own pace and time. With the end of my independent study I have learned new skills that I can integrate later in the design phase of my architectural career. Thus, another phase of my undergraduate career completed there will be another phase added to my upcoming semester I am looking forward to.

As my last post to this blog, I want to thank all the people who has supported and guided me throughout my project in order to complete my design thesis. I would also like to thank you for your time and consideration in keeping up to date with my process in design as this blog did for me.  It has been a great semester and definitely an eye opening experience.

-         -  Edward L

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sustaining Its Culture through Tourism

Diagram of Tourism Types

With the end of November here, I feel the pressure to get all my work complete as I try to wrap everything up from this Off Campus Program in Buffalo NY. While synthesizing my gathered work, I stumbled upon some interesting readings which assisted with my re-designing phase of my synthesized work. With the synthesized graphic representations, I’ve decided to developed some new innovative designs myself that will help with the tourism in the urban fabric of Niagara Falls, NY.

My comprehensive approach to the re-designing was to incorporate the three fundamental principles into the planning and design. The principles were respecting the historic context, implementing ecological needs, and accommodating the contemporary needs and demands of the visitors. With such high rates of vacancy in the surrounding buildings and areas, I wanted to restructure the sites as a means of heritage tourism and recreational opportunities. There was also an idea of re-designing to make it so that The Falls were more like one place instead of two different countries. Instead of having the American side and the Canadian side of the Falls, it would be just known as one location called the Niagaras. 

After further synthesis, I’ve narrowed in on the specific types of tourism I will be focusing on in terms of its sustainability to Niagara Falls as a tourist icon. They include the following: Community Heritage, Recreational/Program, Eco-tourism, Adventure/Honeymoon, and Mass Tourism. Niagara Falls State Park was a well-known honeymoon capital in the early nineteenth century til now. There has been a lot of history in The Falls including many battles, which is honored by statues in the park along with the surrounding streets leading to the park such as cobblestone road also known as Old Falls Street. With such a vast amount of history here in The Falls, we must provide ways to sustain its culture for future generations to admire and experience.

- Edward L 

Monday, November 26, 2012

$25 Million Park Plan

“Eight million tourists every year on a dedicated parkway into Niagara Falls State Park, park on one of 1,200 parking spaces, eat at state-contracted Delaware North food stands, plug quarters into coin-operated binoculars, squeeze in like sardines for a 15 minute boat ride, purchase souvenirs at the Observation Tower gift shop and then exit the park on the same road without setting foot or spending a dollar in the city of Niagara Falls.” - Niagara Falls Reporter

Above is a quote from a Niagara Falls reporter who expresses how they feel in terms of the tourism that goes on here in the city of Niagara Falls. This quote really did not surprise me at all after spending a whole semester here in Niagara Falls, NY studying the tourism of Niagara Falls State Park and how it affects the urban fabric of downtown Niagara Falls, NY.

There have been a lot of plans to revitalization the nation’s oldest State Park, Niagara Falls State Park. Officially in April of 2012, there was a 92 page plan for the rehabilitation of Niagara Falls State Park that was issued. Below is the link of the article a worker of Niagara Falls State Park sent me explaining more on what this “rehabilitation” is all about in terms of its tourism and how it affects the city of Niagara Falls, NY.

- Edward L

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Break

Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve decided to take a little four day break to drive back down to New York City and spend time with my family and friends for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. I would like to thank everybody who has supported me through my every action. A big thanks to my family who has always been there for me through thick and thin. I would also like to thank all the professors who have led me to where I am today. Thank you.

Let’s enjoy this holiday weekend and gobble up!

- Edward L

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Synthesis Begins

Historic Contextual Map

This past week has been an innovation to my Off Campus Program here in Buffalo, N.Y. The advisor visit this past Monday has guided me so far ahead in my project this week that I feel like I did a month’s worth of work in a matter of a week. Forty plus hours has been put into my journal sketchbook, project notebook, and design thesis.  I would say that the advisor visit was a success and has gave me that push and shove that I needed to start the synthesis of my study.

Some things I will start to do in my synthesis are analyzing: 
- Types of Tourism (Honeymoon, Ecotourism, etc.)
- Tourist Infrastructure (accessibility)
- Local Context (contextual affect)
- Historic Aspects (change over time)

This marks the end of week twelve; only three weeks left until the end of this Off Campus Program. This gives me about two to three weeks to synthesize all the work done thus far to answer my study question: What is the influence of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the urban fabric of Niagara Falls, NY?

I am still a bit behind from my schedule, but if I continue doing what I have done this past week, I am confident that all my work will be done and sufficient to answer my study question through my design thesis and all the graphic representations developed throughout this project. 

- Edward L

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Placemaking in Niagara Falls

The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls
A lot has been done this week in preparation to the advising meeting coming Monday (November 12th, 2012) in Syracuse. As the last bits and pieces of inventory come in before the synthesis, a few interviews has been done from different people in different positions near the Niagara Falls State Park to get a range of perspectives. After reviewing my notes from the interviews, I have noticed that the answers to the questions were all very different coming from all different perspectives. However, although the answers to my questions to the interviewees were different all of the interviewees had a similar commonality in terms of where the answers were leading. Everybody wanted the Niagara Falls State Park to be sustainable and believed the city needs to do something about the vacancy in the community.

Places are ubiquitous, but they are not static conditions. Theresa, Transportation Coordinator of Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel noted that The Niagara Falls State Park doesn’t help Seneca Casino directly. The Falls as a tourist icon does however bring visitors into the casino indirectly because of the casino enormous fa├žade. The city needs to care more. People who live in the vicinity need to care more. The vacant and condemned buildings need to go or need to be in a serious recovery phase of rebuilding. If the city gives people some reasons to stay (recreational activities, programs, jobs, housing, etc.), people will.

Representation and the political cloud are both very important to how Niagara Falls State Park operates. Mr. Jason Murgia, Director of Event Services in The Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls noted that not much of the money used in the Niagara Falls State Park actually goes to the park itself. Only about 7 percent of what is earned goes to the park itself. The other percent goes back to Albany. There are a lot of strings that are being pulled that people don’t really notice nor see. Once again, people need to care and step in for what they want. Placemaking is extremely important. It gives people of the community a reason to stay. Currently, the Urban Land Institute brought forth by USA Niagara has started planning programs/activities in the downtown region of Niagara Falls. Their goal: Provide a reason for people to come into the downtown region instead of circling around it. The political process is long, complicated, and something I will not get into currently in my thesis project.

Ecological sustainability of the Falls is a very significant part of sustainable ecotourism in the Niagara Falls community. Ms. Angela P. Berti, Public Affairs & Marketing Coordinator of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation emphasized that revitalization of the park is of need to keep the 8 million visitors annually from all over the world to keep coming. A revitalization initiative and landscape improvement plan, $25 million revitalization has been approved by Mayor Dyster, the Mayor of Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls State Park opened in 1885, is the oldest state park in the United States of America. This park plays a key role to the western New York tourism economy contributing to the economic livelihood of the region. 

Looking at all of the perspectives given from the interviews and personal observation, I’ve come to conclude that the Niagara Falls State Park has more of an indirect influence to the community of Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY. As a worldwide tourist icon, it brings people into the region in the first place, but what the city of Niagara Falls and Buffalo really needs is a reason to keep the visitors and potentially have them become a local resident of the city. 

- Edward L

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day In America

Election Day, November 6th, 2012 is officially today. I took the today off from my Off Campus Study and decided to follow up with the Presidential Election of 2012. Polls are officially open from 6am to 9pm for voting. For more information on how to vote and updates on the presidential election, please follow the links below:

I highly encourage everybody to take 5 minutes of their day to go out to their local voting stations to cast their vote for our president for the next 4 years. Every vote counts and could mold your life as well as the good and welfare of the United States of America.  Here are the candidates for the Presidential Election of 2012:

Republican- Mitt Romney
Democrat- Barack Obama

Happy Voting, 
- Edward L