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Kira Appelhans, Student ASLA & Maura Rockcastle, Student ASLA

The University of Pennsylvania
Advisor: Keith Kaseman

Located in East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania, this site incorporates both building and landscape. Built in the late 1890' s, the 60,000 square foot International Boiler Works (IBW) factory is situated on roughly 6 acres adjacent to the Lackawanna train tracks. Although freight trains currently dominate the Lackawanna line, regional passenger trains will eventually be incorporated. Unfortunately, the city intends to demolish the IBW building and replace it with a 60,000 square foot 'big-box' building with no tenant to occupy it and no intent for public use.

The IBW property is situated within a recently designated Keystone Innovation Zone, an Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development initiative intended to spark partnerships between intuitions of higher education, venture capitalists, businesses and other organizations towards the realization of development opportunities as yet unimagined. East Stroudsburg University with strong bio-tech and information technology programs is a potential KIZ partner for the numerous businesses and arts organizations in the township.

The abandoned IBM building shell has been appropriated by the town’s myriad biking and skate boarding youth. East Stroudsburg does not allow bikes into any of its public parks, leaving no place for riders to safely practice, gather, and ride. Thus, the industrial and largely abandoned outskirts, such as this, have become a haven for alternative sports.

The site’s landscape program and structure is intended to reach out to the alternative sport user group, as well as sustain the influx of daily users that would both work in the building and commute through it. The design proposes the reinstatement of the regional rail such that a new train station can be built as a catalyst to inspire development of the site. Designed both for the rider, observer, worker and public, the park’s terrain became the framework for us to address ecological, economic and social conditions in East Stroudsburg.

This project is both an exercise in design as well as a policy proposal for the creation of a park built from a set of components reliant on each other and the steel skeleton of the existing building. The smartPARK strategy aims to seamlessly integrate the building with the landscape, using the building’s steel skeleton as a base to insert both building modules and park space. The design is organized to allow the economic and technological requirements of the KIZ initiative to be flexible and to grow over time. smartPARK recognizes the site’s role as integral to the historic development of the Poconos region, and offers a proposal that both maintains its industrial past while simultaneously prompting new programs, technology, and public space to self-generate within the community of East Stroudsburg.

Design Goals

  • Develop a filter consisting of the public, city government and activators (riders) that fights big box development by allowing community to participate in the growth of the business community.
  • Develop a modular system, dependant on existing infrastructure, able to accept program without sacrificing park surface.
  • Develop a ramp system to support various module organizations that maintain circulation efficiency in one direction and ambiguous, exploratory movement in another; enabling maximum flexibility of program and inhabitation.
  • Design for constant activation and harmony between user groups throughout the day and across the site

The building strategy does not disrupt any additional land on the site other than what it currently occupies. Proposed building modules do not only take advantage of the existing infrastructure to encourage less new construction, but they are even elevated off the ground plane, returning current hardscape to a soft, permeable surface. The landscape strategy ranges from harder public surfaces to softer, undulating berms that both serve as bike jumps and to regulate stormwater. The project is designed to maximize hardscape where heavy pedestrian traffic will occur and to grade into softscape as the site reaches the forest along its periphery. All landscape structures were designed to be able to accomplish this transition from hard to soft. The design included a highly developed concrete unit that could be used for straight, concave, and convex retaining walls, as well as planters and seating walls. The unit helps to create this hard to soft transition, give form to the landscape, and bring permeability and green into the harder portions of the project.

Based on city-led research, the site did not contain any contamination.

The greatest challenge was to create a design strategy that ensured the inclusion of public decision in the project outcome. We aimed to develop a contract that would act as a platform from which to explore numerous design configurations that could be governed largely by the public, rather than the city. With this dedication to the involvement of the community, especially the young riders, we were able to create a growth policy that ensures community input in order to develop the site both economically, programmatically, and formally. By integrating this contract as part of the design strategy, we were also able to ensure a smart organization of development that was highly flexible, innovative, and that guaranteed a large proportion of new open space.



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