Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park
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Project Objective

Geosyntec is a member of the multidisciplinary Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park (RCWJCP) design team led by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Incorporated. The park is a key part of the revitalization of the City of Buffalo. With approximately one full mile of shoreline, the RCWJCP will be one of the largest waterfront parks in the City of Buffalo. The park will transform the current LaSalle Park area into an enhanced waterfront space that connects people to the waterfront, restores and protects the environment, enhances recreational opportunities, and provides event capacity. The design vision expands on the park’s current identity as a destination for active recreation, special events, and spectacular views of Lake Erie.

Located at the junction of four water bodies (Niagara River, Lake Erie, Black Rock Canal, and Buffalo River) the park is exposed to a variety of conditions including seasonal water level variations, storm surge, seiche, long-term variation in Great Lakes’ water levels, ice, erosion, waves, and flooding. RCWJCP is also adjacent to marine ecological habitat and wetlands, which have submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) that is particularly at-risk as the Niagara River shoreline continues to be developed.

Geosyntec’s Scope of Services

Geosyntec is leading the marine engineering aspects of the design. The design will reflect both the community’s ongoing input, and coordination with a large team of consultants examining technical feasibility of park features. Geosyntec’s role includes review of design information such as geotechnical assessments and hydrodynamic modeling and design of marine engineering features such as bulkheads, revetments, and living shorelines. Geosyntec is working collaboratively with other engineering consultants, ecologists, and planners on shoreline elements, providing sound engineering solutions to meet the overall look and function of the design taking a complicated project from a schematic concept to a constructible and integrated design.

Notable Accomplishments

The restructuring and features along the water’s edge are critical elements of the park that will add experiential complexity, ecological value, and water access to the park. These elements will work together to expand the opportunities to gather, to play, and to feel connected with the city and its natural environment. The transition from park to lake will be varied and active, forming a stronger connection between city and waterfront and improving the site’s ecology. This new wetland edge will also reduce the risk of damage caused by extreme lake events such as ice shoves and seiches. The complex interplay between land and water will be explored in different ways along the new edge including an outcrop landscape feature that will extend into the water, a kayak launch area, a bulkhead amphitheater, a wetland inlet area, revetments, and living shoreline.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Buffalo, New York
  • Client: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Incorporated
  • Project Practice Areas: Geotechnical
  • Type of Facility: Park
  • Services Provided: Geotechnical Design Development of Protective Shoreline Structures from Hydrodynamic forces, Shoreline naturalization, Coordination with Regulatory Agencies, Collaboration with Landscape Architects on Design Optimization
  • Type of Work: Design
  • Governing Regulation: State and Local