IBI Group designs a unique gateway into history
DateJuly 28, 2014
NIAGARA FALLS – It’s not every day that a client asks IBI Group to design a gateway into history, but that was just one of the challenges when the City of Niagara Falls commissioned the firm to commemorate the site of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in the War of 1812.
The battle took place 200 years ago on July 25, 1814. On the British side, 84 troops were killed, 560 wounded, and 170 captured. On the American side, 171 were killed, 572 wounded, and 117 missing.
“The Gateway is an archway that spans the road and marks the location of Drummond Hill, the location of the final battle,” said Trevor McIntyre, design lead at IBI. “The arch includes silhouettes of the British and American soldiers, animating the site and creating a new destination. It’s also significant due to the burial grounds and the site of the memorial remembering Laura Secord.”
For McIntyre, one of the interesting challenges of the project was staying neutral in the debate over who won the battle. “Our team of architects, urban designers, and landscape architects all set aside their personal views of who won the war in order to create a meaningful historical reminder of the story focusing on the human factors,” he said.
“The figures on the arch represent the soldiers from the British and American sides who toiled in the final battle, suffering from exhaustion, lack of food and water, as they climbed to the top of Drummond Hill,” McIntyre said. “The human side of the story also includes characters like Laura Secord, who supported the war effort in her own way, and Ruth Redmond, a local teacher who acquired land which has now been preserved to make this heritage landscape possible.”
IBI Group’s Urban Design and Landscape Architecture team in Toronto was responsible for the design of the gateway and the Master Plan for the surrounding battlefield site.
Don Loucks, a heritage architect, and Robin Mosseri, a landscape architect, worked with Trevor and the Steering Committee over the last year to develop the design of the Gateway and the Master Plan for the entire Battlefield Park.
Marisa Mammoliti, an IBI graphic designer, designed the six information panels that give context to the battle and how the site evolved as a tourist destination.
The panels are very stylized,” said Marisa. “I think they’re visually engaging and dynamic. It was interesting to research the history and how significant the battle is for Canadians. The panels successfully condense a violent chapter of Canadian history and creatively showcase the events of the past. I want them to welcome future visitors to Lundy’s Lane and impress on them the bravery and sacrifice of the conflict and those who perished.”
Marisa found the role of Ruth Redmond particularly intriguing. “She was a teacher, born in 1902, and she spent a lot of her life acquiring as much historical battlefield land that she could afford. She was determined to pay a tribute to these men. She called them “her boys”. In 1996 she donated her property to the City of Niagara Falls with the agreement the City would protect it from commercial development and develop a park in commemoration of the battle.”
The gateway and battleground site opened officially on July 25.