Utica art center master plan aims to unite campus and community

Global architecture firm Cooper Robertson has been selected to develop a campus master plan for the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Munson-Williams) in downtown Utica, New York. Photo courtesy Munson-Williams

Global architecture firm Cooper Robertson and Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Munson-Williams) are seeking public input to craft a master plan for the center’s Utica campus. 

The fine arts center aims to transform its public areas into community, cultural, and entertainment spaces, with increased accessibility and a goal to serve as the catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. 

Representatives from both parties will meet with regional leaders to learn their perceptions of Munson-Williams, hear about their experiences engaging with the institute and its campus, and discuss their ideas on how to improve it for the future. 

Highlights of the master plan include:  

  • Enhancing the campus’ role as a neighborhood anchor and community focus, while making it more welcoming and visitor-friendly;
  • Exploring classroom/studio utilization, so the school of art will continue to attract top students to the PrattMWP College of Art and Design, while balancing the needs of the community arts education programs;
  • Evaluating existing land use and developing a conceptual framework plan for vehicular and pedestrian flows, and identifying opportunities for improved greenspaces;
  • Categorizing and prioritizing capital improvements to establish a long-term strategy for future investment; and
  • Identifying potential improvements to facilities beyond what Munson-Williams has already documented and targeting future space needs.

The project will also include the construction of the Munson-Williams Park, taking underutilized land on the front grounds of Munson-Williams and creating a 4552 m2 (49,000 sf) public-access space stretching from the front of 324 Genesee Street to Cottage Place. The area will feature new landscaping, lighting, and sculptures, and will utilize the staircase of the Philip Johnson-designed Museum of Art as amphitheater seating for events.  

As the largest expanse of greenspace on Genesee Street, the park will help renovate the Oneida Square neighborhood and create a gateway to downtown Utica. The park will be activated with new programming including festivals, block parties, light shows, art demonstrations and installations, pop-up events, and free public performances.  

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One comment on “Utica art center master plan aims to unite campus and community”

  1. As a child I’d spend summers in Utica with my mother’s family. I think I can safely say the average Utican has no feeling of connection with the Museum or it’s activities which is a shame. Maybe these professional efforts will change that.

    I also wrote a paper on the Johnson Museum while in architecture school, so I also have a fondness for the building, but I suspect again the average Utican does not care very much about the building.

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