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The environmentally-friendly repurposing trend has been inspirational for our Greenspace Team. Lately they have gravitated towards projects that repurpose a site for community use. These adaptive reuse sites may be warehouses that have long been abandoned and converted to lofts or mixed use and providing various outdoor spaces – such as Ponce City Market, or an abandoned railway site being repurposed for a public trail, such as Atlanta’s own Beltline, or even finding that an existing use can remain that use, but also provide additional public opportunity such as trail projects within an existing utility coordination. Here are two projects that we have been looking at for inspiration that involve changing the use from what was initially intended and/or adding a purposed to an existing structure or utility.

The High Line – New York City The High Line is one of New York’s innovative parks and a great example of taking an abandoned use, in this case an old historic elevated train line, and converting it to a linear public park. The train track is elevated 30 feet and had sat vacant for a number of years. It stretches 1.45 miles through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea along the west side of Manhattan weaving between buildings, offering a prospective of the city and the Hudson River.

Our team appreciates the way it links several neighborhoods together and how the park, even though linear, was able to create various gathering spaces. Although the spaces are very different from one another, there is a design approach or a similarity in materials that helps unite the park as a whole. We admire the way the spaces use the existing buildings to take advantage of shade, frame views and define outdoor spaces.

The Underline – Miami The Underline is a project where the existing use, an elevated train line, is maintained but the space below is utilized for a trail. This is unique in that the space below an elevated train or highway is typically not utilized. What makes this project interesting is the elevated deck already provides some shade during parts of the day for the trail user and a defined path has already been determined and connects to strategic parts of the neighborhood.

Opening in phases through 2025, the Underline will span 10 miles below Miami’s Metrorail into a 120-acre linear park, urban trail, and public art destination. The Underline will connect communities, improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, create over one hundred acres of open space with restored natural habitats, encourage a healthy lifestyle, provide an easily accessible place to exercise, create a mobility corridor that integrates transit, car, biking and walking, provide a 10-mile canvas for artistic expression and generate significant economic impact.

Our team is inspired by how the signage design was addressed and how bike tire treads were incorporated into paving patterns and site furnishings. Creative approaches to signage provided inspiration such as how length of travel by mode (walking/bicycle) to destination was addressed as well as utilizing art and signage on the existing elevated track supports, for example. The design also encompasses a variety of activities throughout this linear park including courts, running tracks, exercise equipment, gaming tables, and sound stages to name a few.

Upcoming and On-the-Boards That Deal With Repurpose

Utilizing these two projects as inspiration, we are looking to incorporate similar type elements into the following on-the-boards adaptive re-use projects our team is working on:

  • A trail for Gwinnett County, GA that will run along a utility corridor.

  • A mixed-use project in North Carolina that will repurpose existing buildings and create outdoor spaces.

  • Gainesville, GA “the Wye” project will include the installation of a new plaza with a playground, boardwalk, and a train exhibit within an old industrial site.

About Jason Weckerly

Jason Weckerly leads Foresite Group’s Landscape Architecture Practice Area nationwide. As a Landscape Architect, Jason has always been interested in how an existing site can cohesively blend with the proposed program. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from Arizona State University and has been with Foresite Group since 2011. With more than 25 years of experience, Jason has a special interest in in the sustainability of projects well after the contractor has left the site, as well an aesthetic approach of less is more.


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