Session Details

Repurposing Urban Infrastructure for Park Development

Transformation is possible for cities of all sizes - and even on some of the most environmentally-degraded landscapes. One of the largest brownfields sites in the country is now showcased as part of a unique cultural and entertainment urban park known as The SteelStacks, in Bethlehem, PA. The open and design elements of the SteelStacks landscape provide the foreground to the spectacular scale and physicality of the furnaces.

The Levitt Pavilion, which sits like a jewel against the backdrop of the massive and powerfully quiet factory, provides over 63 concerts every summer to the community and region. Above the stage, reinterpreted and re-opened as the Hoover-Mason Trestle, once used to carry cars full of ore from the Yard to the blast furnaces. At 2,000 feet in length, it brings a new layer of connectivity, historic interpretation, and passive recreation uses to the park. By reforging a cultural link between historic downtown Bethlehem and the manufacturing heritage of the Lehigh Valley, the SteelStacks park represents a new urban park typology for small, post-industrial cities, and will contribute to the extensive economic resurgence of this former factory town.

From the seasonal Baygall Swamp to a bustling rail yard that served as the largest employer in Florida, Lake Bonnet and its surrounding land played myriad roles throughout history. This 100-acre piece of land adjacent to Lakeland, FL, was working infrastructure up until the 1950s. Today it is being transformed into a public park for rapidly growing Lakeland community. Bonnet Springs Park is reversing the impact of the railyard operations and creating a site where the wetlands manage and clean the urban watershed.

Session Presentation Slides

Slide Deck: Repurposing Urban Infrastructure for Park Development - Part 1

Slide Deck: Repurposing Urban Infrastructure for Park Development - Part 2

Slide Deck: Repurposing Urban Infrastructure for Park Development - Part 3


  • Understand the organizational structure and funding strategies to design, build, and operate a privately funded public park.
  • Explore the phases of design and permitting needed to transform a derelict piece of land into a successful urban park.
  • Investigate the latest technologies in remediation, water management, and trash collection and how they serve as infrastructure for the larger urban fabric.