Cave of the Winds Improvements
Watts provided architectural and engineering services for this award-winning project to improve visitors' experiences at the Cave of the Winds, a highly visited tourist attraction located on Goat Island within the Niagara Reservation State Park in Niagara Falls, New York. Originally constructed in 1929, the attraction welcomes over three million tourists annually, allowing them to get very close to the bottom of the Niagara River gorge. The attraction had not been updated in any significant way since the late 1980s. Throughout the tunnel, moisture laden air condenses on cool concrete and drips onto patrons' heads, concrete surfaces were deteriorated, worn and cracked and insufficient lighting, scarcely more than bare bulbs, had been detracting from the visitor experience for decades.
Watts was commissioned to update the attraction and create a new and inviting atmosphere by improving many conditions within the tunnel. Services included testing and removal of hazardous materials; replacement of existing elevators; structural repairs to concrete at the elevator shaft, egress stair and tunnel; improved ventilation and lighting upgrades. An arched metal canopy, alternating in height and materials between patina copper and colorized stainless steel, as fastened to the existing tunnel walls with custom cast bronze brackets. Watts worked with Rigidized Metals, a local metal panel manufacturer to develop the custom panels specifically for the application. The elevator work included the complete replacement of two existing 18-story, two-stop elevators and their ancillary systems. Two new electric traction elevators with new ancillary systems were installed with custom decorative stainless steel finishes in the cabs. Custom designed cast bronze LED light fixtures provided lighting as well as complimenting the canopy. The existing concrete floor was repaired and polished, as well as new metal hand rails completed the tunnel renovations.
2013 Merit Award, Interior Environment Category
AIA Buffalo/WNY Chapter Design Excellence for the Cave of the Winds Improvements Project, Niagara Falls, NY