Onondaga Lakeview Amphitheater

  • Client

    • Gilbane Building Company
  • Project Type

Design Achievement - Following its designation as a Superfund site, legislation was passed in September 2014 allowing for the construction of a new performing arts venue on the land surrounding Onondaga Lake near Syracuse, New York. DLR Group|Westlake’s design for the Onondaga Lakeview Amphitheater is rooted in an appreciation for the unique patron experience it offers. Visitors arrive for an event during the daylight and experience the transition of the venue and its performances through twilight, into the evening. The amphitheater's position and orientation maximize natural land contours and lake views while minimizing significant cut and fill. The forms, shaping of views, material and color palette, and lighting are designed to enhance the patron perception of the ever-changing quality of the flow of light and space in and around the amphitheater. Aesthetically, the amphitheater’s design utilizes simple iconic forms, echoing the rooflines and materiality of the agrarian structures of the region. Key details enhance the visual and metaphoric connections to the lake, most notable of which is the pavilion fascia – when backlit it parallels the fall of light at dusk on the lake waves. With its first successful performance, the Onondaga Lakeview Amphitheater re-connects the citizens and visitors of the area to this vital natural resource.

Scope Summary - The scope of work for this project included 79,000 SF of new performance and space with seating for 5,000 under cover and 12,500 on the lawn; nature trails; and an event center. The project had several key challenges including a difficult site (capped industrial waste) and an accelerated schedule that required design and construction be completed in less than one year. As such, material selection and construction methods were developed around readily available resources to meet the aggressive deadline. Site circulation was designed to separate the patron and performer support access, while providing unobstructed views of the lake. A bicycle path was added to circumnavigate the entire lake and allow riders to pass directly through the pavilion, underscoring the site’s function as an open park. The use of native meadow grasses, which are physiology suitable for the underlying capped waste material, promote the wildlife habitat and control patron circulation. DLR Group|WRL provided integrated architecture and engineering (MEP and structural) design services as well as theater technical, audiovisual, lighting, and low voltage/IT design.

DLR Group acquired Westlake Reed Leskosky in September 2016. Today, the combined design expertise and resources of Westlake Reed Leskosky and DLR Group serve clients as a global, integrated design firm committed to elevating the human experience through design.

Awards & Recognition

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  • Award of Citation

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York State
  • Design Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central New York
  • Merit Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Ohio
  • Honor Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Cleveland
  • Building Team Award - Platinum

    Building Design & Construction
  • Best of the Best Project Award in the Government/Public Building category

    Engineering News Record
  • Best Regional Project Award in the Government/Public Building and Excellence in Safety category

    Engineering News Record New York
  • Award of Merit

    Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)

Onondaga Lakeview Amphitheater

Gilbane Building Company