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Letter: Integrate the Turtle in Falls development

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


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