A holding area was created where guests seeing the evening lightshow attend the pre-show talk. New glass gates were installed in the portals between the inner forebay and the generator hall to prevent bottlenecks as groups of up to 147 guests viewing successive shows simultaneously enter and exit the generator hall.
+VG Architects unobtrusively added four new code-mandated emergency exit doors along the west façade by extending existing windows to the floor to create additional door openings, then replicated the single existing heritage door.
Many of the powerhouse’s smaller original artifacts were cleaned, degreased and relocated to function as museum exhibits, furnishings and retail display fixtures. These include governors, which regulated the speed of the generators; a Francis turbine; and massive timbers that were stacked in front of the penstock mouths to stop water from flowing into the turbines during maintenance.
Newly designed furnishings, such as the ticket desk in the generator hall and the cash wrap in the inner forebay’s retail store, reflect the plant’s primary natural resource—water—in their sculptural, undulating wave motif, which inconspicuously accommodates accessibility requirements. The taller section of the ticket desk’s wave surface incorporates a standing-height counter; the lower section is at wheelchair height.
Elsewhere in the public areas, finishes, furnishings and fixtures recreate the building’s industrial look and feel. The new washrooms, for instance, continue the use of the original washroom walls’ subway tile.
The Tunnel, a major new attraction, opened in the generator hall in July 2022. A new glass-walled elevator descends 180 feet through the station’s eight underground levels to the wheel-pit floor, where visitors enter the 2,200-foot-long tailrace tunnel that returned wastewater from the turbines to the lower Niagara River. Visitors walk past interpretive exhibits and step out to a new viewing platform, extending into the river where they enjoy a unique panorama at the base of the falls—Horseshoe Falls thundering to their right and the American Falls to the left.
ARCHITECT OF RECORD AND CONTRACT ADMINISTRATOR: +VG Architects Ltd.
- Paul Sapounzi, principal in charge
- Kevin Church, contract administrator
- Rodrigo Morales, project architect
- Jennifer Warren, interior design
- Deb Westman, heritage strategy
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS: Truax Engineering Ltd., (519) 570-9035, and Hallex Engineering Ltd.
MECHANICAL ENGINEER: Vanderwesten & Rutherford Associates
FIRE ALARM AND LIGHTING: Ecco Electric Ltd.
SPRINKLER SYSTEM: Advanced Fire & Life Safety Inc., (905) 380-5883
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Merit Contractors Niagara Ltd.
HERITAGE MASONRY RESTORATION: Krawczyk Construction and Maintenance
STONECUTTING: Ferrell Builders’ Supply Ltd., (905) 387-1948
LANDSCAPING AND WALKWAYS: Brook Restoration
FLOORING BEHIND SERVICE COUNTERS, OFFICES: Forbo
PORCELAIN TILE IN WASHROOMS: Daltile
PAINT IN RETAIL AREA: Benjamin Moore
PLASTIC LAMINATE IN BASE AND UPPER MILLWORK: Tafisa
SOLID SURFACE IN PARTIAL-HEIGHT WALLS AND COUNTERTOPS: Wilsonart
PULLS AND WASHROOM COAT HOOKS: Richelieu
WASHROOM WASTE RECEPTACLE: American Specialties Inc.
HAND DRYER: Dyson
WASHROOM ACCESSIBILITY: Frost
BABY CHANGING TABLE: Koala Kare
TOILETS, BARRIER-FREE SINK AND BAR SINK FAUCET: Kohler
WASHROOM FAUCETS: Fontana
DOORS THROUGHOUT: Regional Doors & Hardware
ENTRANCE ALUMINUM DOORS: Niagara Glass
FIELD LIGHTING THROUGHOUT: Lithonia Lighting
RETAIL LINEAR LIGHTING: Mark Architectural Lighting
PENDANT, WALL SCONCE: TMS Lighting
VANITY ACCENT LIGHTING: Armstrong’s Lighting
RETAIL TRACK LIGHTS: Juno
EXIT SIGNS THROUGHOUT: Stanpro
PHOTOS: David Lasker Photography, unless otherwise noted