The City of Corning is home to landmarks from many eras, helping tell the stories of those who helped put the city on the map physically and economically. However the Corning Civic Center remains an architectural and visual outlier despite its importance to the city.

"People really need to get involved and speak up to their elected leaders and to their neighbors about what they'd like to see here, because this plaza does need to come back to life," said Dr. Edward A. Mainzer, the author of "Architecture Patronage, Historic Preservation, and Urban Renewal in Corning, NY, 1950-2000."

The Corning Civic Center is the hub of some of the city's main public services. Departments of the city government are housed in City Hall along with the courts and police force. Across the courtyard is the Public Library, next to that, the Ice Rink, though it's difference in design and upbringing has left the plaza in a state of limbo.

"Part of the challenge was that when this was built, Corning was still an industrial city. And we can easily forget that. But just down a few blocks from here, along the river, were immense factories," added Dr. Mainzer, "There is a problem here with this plaza turning its back to some extent on that industrial and railroad infrastructure, trying to create a space here between the library and the City Hall."

Regardless of what the plaza's next form will be, there's potential for a more animated Civic Center. Corning's City Council recently passed a new plan proposing that the plaza be turned into an art park, in an attempt to breathe life back into the area.

"And so there is the plan now to engage in that process and think about the possibility of turning this into an art park. Certainly when you're here, whether it's in the winter with the ice skating or with pickleball during the better weather. You find that the spaces are animated, but there's a lot of additional room for improvement."

Though the Civic Center was born from a bygone era of construction, it's importance to the city has opened up the door for discussion on what's in its future.

Preservation and renewal of Corning's foundational buildings are discussed Dr. Mainzer's book, Architecture Patronage, Historic Preservation, and Urban Renewal in Corning, New York, and is available for purchase on Barnes and Noble's website.