By Tara A. Butler and Daniel S. Wilson
The architect is a designer, coalition builder, problem solver, mediator, advocate, and planner. He or she is trained to overcome problems and incorporate the needs and resources of the community into a design proposal. As illustrated in the case studies, architects relish the design challenges and rewards of revitalizing urban brownfield sites.
According to Mayor Harvey Johnson of Jackson, Miss., the “impact of brownfields is not just on that one parcel of land, but on the surrounding neighborhoods as well. These sites need to be cleaned up, redeveloped, and put back into productive use.” Architects across the nation echo this call.
By converting these former industrial sites to differing uses such as parks, shopping areas, learning centers, and housing, we are investing not only in marketable real estate, but in the most valuable resource of all our communities. Brownfields are untapped resources that hold a wealth of opportunity. Often in central urban locations with costly infrastructure already in place, brownfields are diamonds in the rough. Brownfield redevelopment “taps the hidden value of extensive roads, streets, and other utilities that are already in place to serve the next generation of business development.
In a time when our nation is searching for solutions to suburban sprawl, these urban sites are the new market frontier bursting with community capitalism. When combined with intelligent planning, community involvement, entrepreneurial spirit, and a clear vision, brownfield sites can be transformed from environmentally contaminated landscapes to thriving urban meccas.
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