The Niagara Parks Power Station has undergone a remarkable transformation, turning it from an unused facility into a captivating destination. After sitting dormant for over 15 years, it now offers visitors a chance to explore the only fully intact, decommissioned hydroelectric power plant of its era in the world.

An exceptional team of experts collaborated to restore this historic facility and repurpose it into a one-of-a-kind attraction. Phase one of the project opened in July 2021, with additional experiences planned for launch in July 2022.

One of the highlights of the Niagara Parks Power Station is the nighttime experience called “Currents: Niagara’s Power Transformed.” This groundbreaking exhibit, created by Thinkwell Studios Montreal, combines interactive media, dazzling lights, and a musical score to reinterpret the building as a magnificent cathedral of power.

In recognition of its innovation, this experience received first place in the Blooloop Innovation Awards 2021, in the Places category.

To delve deeper into this remarkable transformation, Gail Lord, co-founder and president of Lord Cultural Resources, and Dov Goldstein, principal consultant at Lord, engaged in a discussion with David Adames, CEO at Niagara Parks Commission, Kim Viney, senior director of business development at Niagara Parks, and Émilie Grenier, head of creative at Thinkwell in Montreal.

The conversation shed light on the impressive project and its impact.

Overview of the Niagara Parks Power Station

The Niagara Falls Power Company initiated its electric current generation on November 16, 1896, after a significant construction effort. Initially, they employed three 5,000-horsepower generators for this purpose.

Subsequently, the project expanded to include ten generators. In 1900, General Electric secured the contract for an additional 11 generators, each with a capacity of 5,500 horsepower, in Power House No. 2. By 1905, Niagara Falls was responsible for producing 10% of the electricity consumed in the United States.

David Adames, CEO of the Niagara Parks Commission, reflects on the significance of the heritage power stations in the context of Niagara Parks’ attractions. These decommissioned hydroelectric power stations, including the Niagara Parks Power Station, were considered valuable assets for adaptive reuse.

The goal was to create a new attraction that would not only share the crucial history of hydropower but also draw visitors to Niagara Parks, Niagara, and Canada as a whole.

Lighting It Up

The transformation of the Niagara Parks Power Station into a captivating attraction involved addressing the “how” behind the project. Dov Goldstein emphasizes the unique nature of this endeavor, which entailed converting a century-old decommissioned power station into a modern attraction with a wide range of daytime and nighttime experiences.

Kim Viney, Senior Director of Business Development at Niagara Parks, elaborates on the initial steps taken. The project began with a strategic conservation plan, which identified the historical and cultural elements of the building and architecture that needed preservation. This preservation aspect was crucial to the project’s foundation.

Following this, the focus shifted to creating exceptional guest experiences and memories. FORREC, a renowned leader in entertainment experiences, was brought in to envision how the power station could be transformed into an engaging and immersive attraction.

FORREC played a pivotal role in shaping the guest’s journey, both inside and outside the building, and laying out the narrative of the attraction.

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