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Saw Mill River Receives Waterfront Honor Awa

Photo credit Jim PintoSaratoga Associates is thrilled to receive a national Honor Award presented by the National Waterfront Center, for our 2012 project Daylighting the Saw Mill River.

The project was selected for the Parks/Recreation/Walkway award category due to its innovative and sustainable design supporting people, environment and the local economy. On land, plazas and walkways provide a hierarchy of spaces that support recreational and civic activities, such as the weekly farmers’ market, annual music festival and environmental education outings.  Within the River, carefully positioned riffles and weirs help oxygenate the water and improve microclimate for fish and other riparian wildlife. A fish ladder and rockscape assist movement of anadromous fish, and has facilitated the return of native species, including eels and alewives. Naturalistic stone embankments protect plantings. Photo credit Jim PintoWhat’s more, the city is enjoying an economic boost with a residential high-rise and office development across the street from the park and the newly completed Millstreet Plaza. Restoration of the River and the park has boosted civic pride and connection to place.

The design carefully knits the park into the daily 24-hour fabric of city life making the park fit into the circulation pattern of the city streets and transportation system. All park amenities were made fully ADA-accessible through careful design of walkways, overlooks and gradient changes. The park pays homage to the industrial past of the city and provides a foreground for significant historical structures. People experience nature in a deeply personal way without having to leave the convenient and urban context of the city.

The daylighting of the Saw Mill River, and the creation of Van der Donck Park, is the realization of a long-term goal by Yonkers environmentalists and grass root education groups, including Groundwork Hudson Valley who was instrumental in securing funding for this ambitious and successful project. 


Groundbreaking at Grafton Lakes State Park

Construction has officially begun at Grafton Lakes State Park for the new Welcome Center which Saratoga Associates has been designing since 2014. Various dignitaries dug into the soil of the 2,500 acre park to signify the launch of the exciting project that will provide space for year-round educational, recreational and volunteer activities. Visited by 250,000 people each year, the Park lies between the Taconic Mountains and the Hudson Valley and offers hiking trails, outdoor education programs and a popular beach for summer swims.  

To expand park offerings, the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation appropriated funding for a Welcome Center that would address underserved visitor needs and expand environmental education programs. The Welcome Center design provides educational services, exhibition spaces, information, offices, and public restrooms. The Center will employ a variety of important sustainable systems including geothermal and radiant heating, solar panels, and stormwater managing rain gardens. An educational display will teach students about these and other sustainable infrastructure systems.

Rendering by Eric Whiting The Welcome Center responds to the site in its design vocabulary, incorporating local rock outcroppings and gently floating a boardwalk over the adjacent wetlands; providing a subtle transition from focused education within the Center to broader awareness and appreciation for the surrounding environment. Construction is expected to be completed next year. Featured on site were Andy Beers, Executive Deputy Commissioner; Alane Ball Chinian, Regional Director; Kurt Kress, Capital Facilities Regional Manager; Jason Penge, Senior Park Engineer; Melissa Miller, Park Manager; Elizabeth Wagner, Park Naturalist.


Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Opens and is "A Destination in and of Itself!"

On August 31st, ribbons were cut and the new Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook opened to the public. Saratoga Associates was commissioned to create a comprehensive vision in Amsterdam, NY which included the design of a pedestrian bridge stretching over the Mohawk River and reconnecting the two sides of the city. The curvilinear greenway stretches 511 feet over the water and surrounds the visitor with lush landscape plantings, overlooks, sitting areas, and gathering spaces for community events. Along the way, interpretive elements artistically highlight the history and culture of the City of Amsterdam and its important, historic relationship to the Mohawk Valley Region.

The Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook has long been a vision of the City and Congressman Paul Tonko, an Amsterdam native, who worked tirelessly to secure funding for the project whileserving in the New York State Assembly. The bridge strives to unify the City of Amsterdam culturally, socially, and
Original rendering by Eric Whiting Saratoga Associates

 economically, and is part of a larger vision to revitalize the waterfront, a program that Saratoga Associates has worked with community stakeholders to redevelop for nearly 25 years. On the north shore, the firm designed Riverlink Park which offers an imaginative open space for recreational, cultural activities and weekly open-air concerts. With the addition of the pedestrian bridge, Riverlink Park is now more accessible to the increasingly utilized Bridge Street, on the south shore, and was the missing link needed to take the City to the next level of community development. “This is a project we can all be proud of, as it reflects on our rich history and heritage and builds a path toward a bright future. I could not be happier to see its completion," said Congressman Tonko of the bridge’s stellar outcome.

Photograph by Eric Whiting Saratoga AssociatesSince it’s opening, the bridge has been received enthusiastically by locals and visitors alike. Amsterdam’s Homecoming parade marched down the greenway, breakfasts are hosted at sunrise, and Erie Canalway Trail users enjoy the spectacular sunset views. "This majestic scenic overlook is both a means to reach a destination and a destination in itself,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo, who went on to state, "the completion of this project will attract new visitors to the City of Amsterdam, increase regional tourism and help fuel economic growth in the Mohawk Valley.”

Saratoga Associates is honored to have had the opportunity to craft such a landmark project. As a New York based firm, we are passionate about any opportunity to reimagine and rejuvenate communities in our State, by enhancing the sense of place and celebrating every communities’ story. The Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook is a pristine example of how a vision that once existed only in our minds, on our sketch pads and computer screens can come to life.

Photo Credit: City of Amsterdam courtesy of Matthews Marketing We wouldn’t have been able to see it through without our friends at Ammann & Whitney (Engineer of Record), MJ Engineering & Land Surveying (Civil Engineer & Surveyors), D.A. Collins (Construction Contractor) and Shannon-Rose Design (Graphic Design). Already, the bridge has won the 2016 Engineering Project of the Year award from the Capital District Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers, and the Bridge of the Year Award by ENR New York.

The primary source of funding for the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook was a $16.5 million award associated with the passage of the Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act of 2005. In recent years, an additional $1.65 million in state funds was secured for artistic elements and other amenities. 

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Eric Whiting to Guest Lecture at UMass Amherst

Eric Whiting has been the creative genius behind some of Saratoga Associates’ most acclaimed designs over the past 18 years, including the new Thacher State Park Visitor Center, the Entrances and Jockey House at the world famous Saratoga Race Course, the rejuvenated facade at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the all new Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge to name a few.

His career as an architect and illustrator merge to afford him an unparalleled knack for inspiring architectural designs, both by hand and computer, that are both rustic and modern, traditional and forward-thinking. And it doesn’t go unnoticed. This fall Eric will be a guest lecturer at UMass Amherst’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Eric will guide first-year Landscape Architecture students during a studio session, which will focus on the art of telling their design story by creating imagery, and seamlessly moving between hand and digital media during the creative process. 


All Hands On Deck at the Schuylerville Visitor Center

The Visitor Center in Schuylerville is turning out to be an exemplar of traditional period appropriate architecture and a model for interdisciplinary collaboration. Serving as the designers on the local project, Saratoga Associates has had the privilege of working with the Timber Frame Guild (TFG), a non-profit that serves as a center of timber frame information and design for professionals, aficionados, and the public. The TFG is dedicated to the art of timber framing, and was just on site doing their workshop where we had the chance to see our designs transform, by hand, into the Visitor Center structure by up-and-coming craftsmen learning from seasoned experts.

During the September on-site workshop, TFG framers hand processed the timbers, all locally sourced through Saratoga County forests, for the new Visitor Center. The joinery (where timbers interlock to support the structure) is all done by traditional timber frame methods and types. Broadening and deepening timber framers’ knowledge on these traditional methods is the mission of the TFG, and seeing this customary exchange of information take place was rewarding to our design team. 

The lower level of the Schuylerville Visitor Center frame will be raised this fall, with the remainder of the frame raised as another educational workshop in the Spring of 2017. To learn more about the Timber Frame Guild visit their website at




Porous Asphalt is the Answer at Hudson Valley Community College

This summer, Saratoga Associates’ landscape architecture studio had the job of resurfacing and reconstructing three campus parking lots, comprising over 750 spaces, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. The school, with its population of commuter students, had experienced great wear and tear of its lots, and knew who to call to complete this local project.


Each lot had a story of its own. “B1 Lot” was modified to include stamped brick-patterned islands that help to calm vehicular traffic by providing a connection through the middle of the linear space. “C Lot” was restriped to accommodate accessible parking, as well as faculty and staff spaces; additional drainage was incorporated as needed to manage groundwater within the lot.

Perhaps the most exciting, “I Lot” was rebuilt to be 50% porous asphalt, which can capture and treat the stormwater runoff from the other half of the lot, as well as from neighboring areas. This allowed for the lot to be reconstructed and drainage to be improved without the additional expense of new catch basins or piping.  Landscape islands with trees were also added to the lot. Check out the video here to see this porous asphalt in action! And make sure you watch the whole thing so you can see how it compares to traditional asphalt. 



MVGO is Underway and Wins Project of the Year Award

Construction of Amsterdam’s Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook (MVGO) is nearing completion.  Field work for the pedestrian bridge began in the Summer of 2014. The triple curve, continuous pedestrian bridge spans 511 feet over the Mohawk River and is 30 feet wide, providing a landscaped plaza with seating, tree and flower plantings and lighting. The MVGO maintains a 200-foot wide navigation channel and 20-foot clearance for boaters as they travel along the historic Erie Canal. 

The bridge, also referred to as the “Park on the River”, will serve as both a tourist destination and a crucial link connecting neighborhoods on both sides of the River. The architecturally unique structure was recently awarded the 2016 Engineering Project of the Year by the Capital District Chapter of NYSSPE, acknowledging the significance of its aesthetic and intent.

Internationally acclaimed engineering firm Ammann & Whitney was the Engineer of Record for this project, whose team of designers and engineers included Saratoga Associates and MJ Engineering and Land Surveying, respectively.  The grand opening of the MVGO is scheduled for later this summer.



Laying the Groundwork at Thacher 

If you visit John Boyd Thacher State Park in Voorheesville this summer you’ll notice something new. Saratoga Associates designed the new 8,240 square foot, peaked roof Visitor Center that has big plans already in the works! Exhibit designers, seen in the photo above, will coordinate educational exhibits in the Center, including interactive displays about the geology of the escarpment. The new Visitor Center will also include a large multi-purpose room available to rent for events, and a patio with views looking out over the cliffs towards Albany.

There are many interesting and unique characteristics of the Thacher Visitor Center so it’s hard to pick a favorite.  The stone veneer is limestone quarried from the same vein that the building sits on, and there are fossiliferous pieces of limestone from the Park at the Visitor Center entry. A wood burning hearth on the inside of the building is faceted with the same limestone from the site. The building employs a sustainable design and uses energy efficient materials that are meant to withstand the test of time, including a Glue-laminated frame and a Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) roof.

The Thacher Visitor Center will be open to the public in 2017.


Schuylerville Public Library Overcomes Accessibility Challenges

Before and after Saratoga Associates' new Universal Access Design improvements to the stairs and front doorBefore and after side view, addition of a Universal Access ramp by Saratoga Associates

The Schuylerville Public Library, situated in downtown Schuylerville close to the Hudson River, is the ideal town hub. The inviting brick building offers book clubs, movie nights, summer camps, and of course is a source for books, e-books, and movies. Accessibility to these amenities at no charge is the hallmark of every public library; however the Schuylerville Library was facing a challenge with a different kind of accessibility.

In order to accommodate the steeply sloped road, the initial design of the Library entrance included stairs leading up to a landing, almost half a foot below the vestibule. The railing was in the center of the stairs, and hardware throughout required grasping. In other words, the entryway was not accessible to handicapped individuals, elderly individuals, or parents with strollers and small children.

Saratoga Associates was given the job of developing a “Universal Access Design” that would provide the kind of accessibility the library needed. The final design included construction of a flat, level sidewalk to provide a path from the parking lot to the entrance; new stairs with ADA-compliant handrails on each side extend beyond the top and bottom step; a new concrete platform at the top of the stairs eliminates the previous 5-inch step up to the door; and a brand new door replaces the old double-doors, creating a wider passage with ADA hardware and an automatic open/close button.

Saratoga Associates designed the planting plan outside of the library to include low-maintenance plantings that will look great year-round. Red twig dogwood has beautiful seasonal coloration in the fall and winter, rhododendrons are taking bloom this spring, and vibernums will blossom in the summer.

On March 25th, our team was happy to be part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony to debut the Universal Access Design entry to the Schuylerville Public Library. Project manager and landscape architect, Brit Basinger said, “It is an honor to be part of such a vital community project and to know that the improvements will significantly advance social, educational and cultural opportunities for such a unique and historically important village.”

With its new sloping path, railings and doorway, the Schuylerville Public Library now embodies all the qualities of access a public library should! The library is located at 52 Ferry Street in Schuylerville, NY. 


LG Palisades Settlement

Saratoga Associates is proud to have participated in this important agreement to protect the visual integrity of the Palisades escarpment; a National Natural and Historic Landmark. Over the past two years Saratoga Principal Matthew Allen worked closely with Scenic Hudson, the Natural Resource Defense Council, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Laurence Rockefeller to identify a development alternative that allows LG Electronics USA to construct a new North American Headquarters adjacent to the iconic Palisades without impact on cherished views. We applaud LG for finding common ground with the conservation groups and bringing hundreds of new jobs to northern New Jersey.