Integrate the Turtle in Falls development
Any proposal to develop the site of the Native American Center in Niagara Falls should include the Turtle, the 60,000-square-foot building inspired by the Iroquois Indian story of the Earth’s creation on the back of a turtle. It was the home of the Native American Cultural Center for decades. Designed by Native American architect Dennis Sun Rhodes, a former chief of the Arapaho Tribe, with the Minneapolis firm of Hodne-Stageberg, it was the unique predecessor of the Native American Museum on the Washington Mall.
Niagara Falls has not been a good steward of its extraordinary, contemporary architecture. Paul Rudolph’s modified Library, Philip Johnson’s Rainbow Center and César Pelli’s demolished Wintergarden are examples of the destruction there. Don’t let the Turtle, a unique example of contemporary architecture in the United States, be destroyed. Could it not be integrated into the proposed hotel as a conference center or as an impressive entry into the complex, telling the story of the history of Native Americans in the Niagara Falls area?
Robert T. Coles, FAIA