Utica Art Center Master Plan Aims to Unite Campus and Community

Global architectural 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 the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Munson-Williams) are seeking public input to develop a master plan for the center’s Utica campus.

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

Representatives from both parties will meet with regional leaders to hear their perception 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:

  • Strengthen the role of the campus as a neighborhood anchor and community center, while making it more welcoming and visitor-friendly;
  • Explore the use of classrooms/studios, so that the art school continues to attract top students to PrattMWP College of Art and Design, while balancing the needs of community arts education programs;
  • Assess current land use and develop a conceptual master plan for vehicular and pedestrian flows, and identify opportunities for green space improvements;
  • Categorize and prioritize capital improvements to establish a long-term strategy for future investments; and
  • Identify potential facility improvements beyond what Munson-Williams has already documented and target future space requirements.

The project will also include the construction of Munson-Williams Park, taking underutilized land from the Munson-Williams Front Lands and creating a 4,552 m2 (49,000 square feet) public access space extending from the front of 324 Genesee Street to Cottage Place. The area will feature new landscaping, lighting and sculpture, and will use the art museum staircase designed by Philip Johnson as an amphitheater seat for events.

As the largest expanse of green space 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, demonstrations and art installations, pop-up events and free public performances.