Competition Winners > Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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Site
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
Elverson, PA

School
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Team Leader
Kathleen John-Alder, MED, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

Leading Discipline
Landscape Architecture

Other Disciplines
Architecture, Ecology, Natural Resources, Remote Sensing, Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Animation

Students
15, Undergraduate and Graduate

Studio Research

View studio animation.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site: A Park for the People

The Challenge

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is a remarkable historic landscape. With a uniquely preserved Revolutionary War-era iron-making village at its core, the site is set within the stunning Hopewell Big Woods, one of two globally significant forests in the northeastern United States. Hopewell's challenge was to explore the meaning of this deep forest landscape, and seamlessly connect it to the site’s iron-and-steel history. At the same time, Hopewell sought to expand its reach in urban population centers beyond park boundaries, sparking excitement for both the site’s iron-making past and what it can be as part of an integrated ecosystem network today.

Studio Approach

The Rutgers design methodology conceived of historic preservation, ecological restoration, and public outreach as part of an ongoing spatial narrative in which each design intervention becomes a new thread of change interwoven into a complex cultural tapestry. The studio presented an understanding of design as an open-ended process incorporating fixed moments and chance as well as the role of movement and circulation within the design process; an understanding of the value of teamwork and how to fluidly move between individual and group assignments; an exploration of design as an inclusive process that encompasses a diverse group of people with different, and often conflicting objectives; an analysis of the site as a complex network; and an understanding of how to visualize and represent change over time. The interventions proposed should not be seen as a specific, one-time solution. Rather, they should be read as a series of new dialogues that open possibilities and provoke response.

Key Features

The studio consists of 14 proposals united by a trail system connecting the site to the surrounding eco-preserve and state park. The trail system is framed by a carefully orchestrated sequence of design and programmatic elements that integrate cultural and natural history with recreation activities and landscape management plans. Design elements include a new campground/picnic area, a wetland boardwalk with vernal pool, a bat hotel, meadow restoration, and new dramatic overlooks. The proposal combines a good walk in the woods with historic tales of manufacturing and the Underground Railroad, and a highly pragmatic forest maintenance and restoration scheme. A site branding exercise incorporates the use of signage, brochures, cell phone apps, billboards, and an inner city wall mural into the overall re-imagination of the park.

Jury Comments

This studio offers a clear demonstration of how excellent teaching and long hours of group design deliberation can result in a synthesis of ideas that enhance the importance of the park’s mission and its future vision. The submission was comprehensive and ecologically strong — its landscape-led approach, with specific features designed by architects, historians, archeologists, artists, and exhibition designers, is a smart strategy applicable nationwide.