Sunday, May 1, 2022

Plans for Olana

On Wednesday, plans for the Frederic Church Center for Art and Landscape were presented to the public in a virtual informational meeting. Sean Sawyer, president of The Olana Partnership, explained that several sites had been considered, but a site near the entrance from Route 9G, next to the lake, had been chosen.

In the presentation, Sawyer reminded participants that, in the creation of Olana, Church started with heavily deforested land. The lake is artificial, and the landscape is Church's final work of art. The view from the proposed visitors' center will be this composed landscape, created by Church.
Sawyer described the design for the new building as "landscape driven" and a "piece of self-deprecating architecture." It will be a state of the art structure in terms of sustainability--a carbon neutral, net zero building. Wood from very small caliber trees is the predominant building material, and all the glazing is bird sensitive. The building is designed to blend into the historic landscape and not be visible from the top of the hill, where the historic house is located.

The project is anticipated to cost $11 million. In Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, the project received grants of $1,868,776 from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and $1.4 million from the Empire State Development Market New York program. The remainder of the funding is coming from private donations and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The project is currently going through the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process, and, if all goes smoothly, construction is anticipated to begin in 2023. The opening of the Frederic Church Center for Art and Landscape is expected to happen in 2024.  

More information about the project is available here. For the next week or so, specific questions about the project can be emailed to


  1. Why does Olana need to spoil the unspoiled landscape. Marketing NYS may be a goal, but unspoiled beauty is a higher priority.

    Put the building at the old entrance near the Stewarts and the parking. It will be out of the unique and precious viewshed.

  2. Glad to see Olana making efforts to site the building in a sensitive way, but that structure looks like the kind of place I would have bought a burger and fries in 1961.