From Brownsfield to Green Space: Are You Part of the Trend?

Here’s a question for ASBA members: who has designed or built a sports facility that will be going in on top of a brownsfield site?

Brooklyn made headlines in the park and rec area recently when Gov. Cuomo announced the conversion of a federally owned site along Jamaica Bay that housed two decommissioned city landfills into a 407-acre state park.

Cuomo said the park will offer central Brooklyn residents opportunities for biking, hiking, fishing and kayaking by providing “crucial” open space access to an underserved area of the state. The park is set to become operational in 2019, at the latest.

But it’s not the only facility – not by a long shot. CHS Field, the Minneapolis-based, 7,000-seat home of independent Minor League Baseball club the St. Paul Saints, has made huge inroads in turning brownsfields green. According to Greenbiz, CHS Field is the first sports venue to meet Minnesota’s B3 Sustainable Building 2030 Energy Standards, “an energy conservation program designed to significantly reduce the energy and carbon in [the state’s] commercial, institutional and industrial buildings.”

Greenbiz notes, “Perhaps most impressive is that the Saints, along with builder and real estate manager Ryan Companies, transformed a site that was once among the 10 most contaminated brownfield sites — land previously used for commercial or industrial purposes that has been contaminated with hazardous waste and/or pollution — in the Twin Cities.

The venue is also the first major sports venue to reuse rainwater for field irrigation. In addition, builders reused nearly all of the former Gillette warehouse building to construct CHS Field, sourcing 20 percent of those materials as foundational elements, then recycling and reusing the rest in the form of crushed material that fills in below the playing field.”

And if you think outdoor fields are the only use for contaminated sites, here’s something to shift your paradigm: Fideltiy Bank Ice Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s where a former metal industrial site became an $18 million, 100,000-square-foot ice rink facility including two full-size ice rinks with mezzanine seating, a training and conditioning center, locker rooms, meeting spaces, a Pro Shop, and over 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Even NRPA recently carried an article about a facility in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which made the transition away from an industrial past and into a recreational venue, the  Oshkosh Boatworks Riverwalk/Park Development.

We’d like to hear from our professional design members: what are the special challenges of doing something like this? Who have you worked with and how did you accomplish these daunting challenges? Let us know! We’d love to feature your answers in a future blog.

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