In October 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced that it would contribute 100 million dollars to transform Lasalle Park on Buffalo’s Lower West Side into a signature park and create a regional trail system along the nearby waterfront. According to the Buffalo News, this remarkably generous donation constitutes the largest philanthropic gift ever made in Western New York.
Just a few months later in December, Ralph Wilson’s namesake foundation reported that it had selected renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and his Brooklyn-based design firm to lead the project. Other projects that Van Valkenburgh and his firm have worked on include Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh and the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
Now, with the help of the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is inviting community members to participate in a series of meetings where they can view preliminary design concepts and offer feedback to the team at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA).
“This park is obviously an important place for Buffalonians, and there will be significant public engagement and presentation of design ideas for feedback, as well as just talking to people generally about what they hope for,” said Van Valkenburgh in a recent interview. I think we can turn the park into something that is going to be a magnet. We are incredibly pleased to be asked to work on it.”
Based on the input the receive from local community members and civic leaders, MVVA is slated to present a finalized conceptual design with renderings and a physical model in late spring. If all goes according to plan, Western New Yorkers could see Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park begin to take shape by the end of this year.