Bethlehem’s SteelStacks Wins National Award for Urban Excellence
By Colin McEvoy on June 22, 2017
Bethlehem’s SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus has won a prestigious national economic development award, defeating significant competing projects in such major cities as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.
SteelStacks was awarded the Rudy Bruner Award (RBA) for Urban Excellence, which celebrates transformative places distinguished by physical design and contributions to the economic, environmental and social vitality of America’s cities.
A nationwide committee or urban experts selected the $93.5 million SteelStacks campus for the Gold Medal award, which also includes a $50,000 prize to further enhance the project.
“The 2017 RBA medalists illustrate the transformative power of design in creating places that bring people together and lift the human spirit,” says RBA founder Simeon Bruner.
“Gold Medalist SteelStacks speaks to the very essence of the Rudy Bruner Award,” he said. “The city of Bethlehem turned an irretrievable loss into a positive cultural asset, honoring its history and all those who worked there while fostering a compelling public place and economic future. It is an outstanding model for post-industrial cities nationwide.”
Bethlehem faced significant competition for the award, including the Chicago Riverwalk, the La Kretz Innovation Campus and Arts District Park in Los Angeles, the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston, and the rehabilitation of 26 historic homes in New Orleans. All four projects were named 2017 Silver Medalists.
Finalists and medalists are determined through an in-depth evaluation process by the selection committee involving input from the award application, site visits, interviews with project participants and community members, and committee discussions.
“We are honored to be named the 2017 Rudy Bruner Award Gold Medalist for the SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus,” said Tony Hanna, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem.
“It’s fitting that the award coincides with the 275th anniversary of the founding of the city of Bethlehem, as the development of the campus embodies many of the same attributes that went into Bethlehem’s development—vision, collaboration, creativity, public engagement, perseverance, tenacity, and commitment,” Hanna said. “ The Redevelopment Authority and its campus partners have provided our community with a public gift, a place that is helping to reinvent and redefine our city while embracing and celebrating its cherished industrial past.”
Eighty-three projects in 27 states have received the RBA since its creation in 1986. Past winners include the Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York’s The Times Square; Boston’s Harbor Point, Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh; and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in Manhattan.
Located on the former Bethlehem Steel site, the 9.5-acre SteelStacks campus includes a public plaza anchored by the blast furnaces, as well as the Levitt Pavilion outdoor amphitheater, Bethlehem Visitor Center, ArtsQuest Center, PBS39 public broadcasting center, and Hoover-Mason Trestle Park.
The campus hosts 1.5 million visitors annually for events. It was designed by WRT of Philadelphia and developed by a consortium led by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem.
“Its design focuses on connection, linking visitors to the city’s past, connecting the various activities and amenities within the campus, and merging the campus with the South Side neighborhood and the adjacent Sands Casino Resort,” reads the RBA website.
The 2017 RBA selection committee included Knox White, Mayor of Greenville, South Carolina; Kimberly Driggins, Director of Strategic Planning with the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department; David Lee, President of Stull and Lee Inc.; Willett Moss, Principal with CMG Landscape Architecture; Deidre Schmidt, President & CEO of CommonBond Communities; and Scot Spencer, Associate Director for Advocacy and Influence with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
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