TABLE ROCK WELCOME CENTRE
Situated at the precipice of the Falls, Table Rock Welcome Centre is a notional “hub” that allows one to appreciate the awe-inspiring, brutally magnificent, cascading natural wonder. The design inspiration for the project, comprised of retail spaces, central circulation hall, an up-scale restaurant, and fast casual dining, is steeped in the rich cultural history of the site and the awesome beauty of the surrounding natural environment.
The design brief outlined a series of spaces intended to offer world-class natural, historic and authentic experiences, built around Niagara Parks’ core values of sustainability, education, inspiration and innovation.
A key element of the design concept included preserving and showcasing the rich heritage, culture and lifestyle that has been built around the Falls, while supporting a dynamic business environment. The objective of the renovation is to elevate the retail and hospitality experience inspired by the history and natural wonders of its location, creating spatial narratives with metaphorical forms and details to engender a memorable experience.
Table Rock Centre functions as a portal through which one engages with the essence of Niagara Falls, the design concept is to evoke both the history and the natural wonder, threaded through the interior spaces by notions of thresholds, restoration/re-creation and metaphor. This was achieved by imbuing the interior spaces with details and design elements that are evocative of both the natural and the historic. For example, the restaurant and the main circulation hall (“the River”) with their natural materials and flowing forms suggest the organic; the retail area within the original Table Rock House is a re-creation and revealing of the more orthogonal, historic architecture.
TABLE ROCK HOUSE SHOP
The redesigned Table Rock House Shop references the building’s heritage, reinterpreting the historic Table Rock House built in 1925, with additions built in the 1960’s and 1980’s. The interior is designed to peel away and reveal elements of the original House and selectively featuring its subsequent additions. The original stone turrets are revealed and the coved ceilings and grid-like configuration of the original beams and columns are recreated, enhanced with accent lighting. The retail display fixtures are custom designed and are multi-functional, their forms and details inspired by an agrarian past and present and configured to enhance movement and view. A priority in the design of the store fixtures was to develop a consistent language able to assimilate the wide-ranging product sizes and types; a strategy of seeking balance between featuring products and reducing visual clutter.
The main circulation hall, or “River”, flows through the Centre connecting the attractions, retail and hospitality components of the building. This includes the Main Entry, Table Rock House Shop, The Table Rock Market, and the Journey Behind the Falls. The ceiling, illuminated in a soothing light blue, is composed to be evocative of flowing, rushing water and combined with textured stone flooring echoes the natural and flow of pedestrian movement. As in the restaurant overlooking the Falls, coloured lighting is used a reference to the nightly coloured illumination of the Falls of which in itself, has become iconic. To assist with the visitor’s comprehension of the various functional areas of the Centre, aesthetic cues such as brass finished counters represent the retail while copper finishes suggest the hospitality components of the Centre.
TABLE ROCK MARKET
The Table Rock Market on Level 1, is comprised of fast casual restaurants with associated open dining areas, including pizza, sushi and ice cream providers all developed by the client group. The design created a consistent aesthetic to suggest a unifying brand of the Centre, and motifs such as copper counters, shared finishes with unique details help define each restaurant. The use of coloured accent lighting, stone finishes and figurative, undulating wooden screens define spaces and underscore the reference to the natural and organic to the patrons.
JOURNEY BEHIND THE FALLS
The Journey Behind The Falls, located on Level 1 and at the opposite end of the entrance end of the main circulation spine, ‘River”, is where patrons queue and purchase tickets for the unique experience to experience the Falls from behind the waterfall. Originally an exterior space, the work included enclosing and providing new mechanical/electrical systems to suit, refurbished washrooms, fast casual and associated dining spaces. The project included a new ticket/information counter. The unique shape of the counter, clad with mosaic tile and enclosed in glass, is intended to be evocative of nautical and organic forms. A custom-designed relief sculpture fabricated from layers of felt, a 3D map of the Niagara River, is featured in a dining area within the space.