• Projects

    Adaptive Reuse for Landscapes: The High Line

    by  • April 22, 2014 • Projects, Smart Design

    We most often think of adaptive reuse in terms of restoration of buildings, but the term applies to landscapes and other structures, too. The High Line in Manhattan repurposed an elevated rail track along 10th Avenue to make a park and walking trail through downtown.The project was completed in phases; the first segment opened in 2009, the second in 2011. A third section has been proposed. Before the High Line could be planted, the railroad tracks and support structures had to be renovated, their lead paint removed, and their aging structures properly bolstered.The landscape, designed by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, echoes the overgrown railroad tracks one can spot throughout the country. Wildflowers and grasses are interspersed between planks and walking paths. Trees provide color and shade, as well as bird habitat, both needed in urban environments.The width of the walking paths varies along the High Line, narrow walking areas opening onto wider gathering and resting spots. In this way, it is much like an urban street that opens onto a plaza, where you might be able to eat at an outdoor café. (Indeed, there are food vendors along the path.)Unlike other parks in New York, High Line does not try to separate visitors from the city, or necessarily provide a respite. It is in the heart of the city (it even runs right through some buildings), and allows access to urban sights and sounds.The High Line presents one answer for what to do with our country’s (and our region’s) aging infrastructure.

    Traveling the back roads of northern New England, it’s not uncommon to find long-abandoned carriage roads taken over by the wildflowers and forests. What if we did that intentionally on the unused railroad track the runs so often through the back sides of our towns and villages?

    In Brattleboro, we are faced with aging bridges into New Hampshire. Among the many discussions about those bridges and what should happen to them, perhaps we should consider using a High Line approach on the old bridges once they are replaced, allowing better pedestrian access to Mount Wantastiquet and the Connecticut River.

    (Photos are from the Friends of the High Line site.)


    Putney General Store Design Wins Award

    by  • March 5, 2012 • Awards, Projects

    We won! Stevens & Associated received an award in this year’s Engineering Excellence Awards Competition, held last month in Waterbury by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Vermont. We received the Grand Award–the highest honor–for our work on the Putney General Store

    After the Putney General Store burned in 2008, Bob Stevens, founder and principal of Stevens & Associates, was on the scene, examining historic timbers and existing loading patterns. Time was of the essence—the roof was unsafe and needed to be removed. The existing structure was inadequate, and fixing it while the building was renovated meant removing the first floor and shoring up the building.

    In 2009, just as the renovations were being wrapped up, the building burned again, the result of arson. The building needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. Designed by Maclay Architects, the building looked almost identical to the historic structure it replaced. Like the old building, it was cantilevered out over adjoining Sacketts Brook. A steel structure with sunken concrete counterweights supports the new building.

    Floodproofing was also integrated into the design for the building. The store straddles a dam, and the flood height is above the damn. Ground water is intercepted through the soil above the dam and is discharged below it. This prevents the damaging forces that water would create during a flood.

    Stevens & Associates has won similar awards for other projects in the past, including the Brattleboro Transportation Center, the Wilder Building renovation, and the renovation of its own offices in the Cutler Block in downtown Brattleboro.


    Putney General Store to Open Soon

    by  • October 21, 2011 • News, Projects

    The Putney General Store, which burned in 2008 and again (to the ground this time) in 2009, will be opening soon.

    The Putney Historical Society, which bought the building in 2008, raised money to rebuild it not once, but twice. Stevens & Associates provided structural and civil engineering services to the project, and we’re very excited to see it close to completion.

    The building has long been a big part of Putney’s downtown core – as a look at the images sent by historical society (to the right) shows. The rebuilt store echoes the historical original, from the symmetrical store windows to the hand-cut timber frame.

    Visit the Putney General Store site for more on the history of the building and the rebuilding effort.



    Checking In On Hilltop Montessori

    by  • October 11, 2011 • News, Projects

    Friday, October 7 was a nice, sunny, fall day here in Brattleboro, so landscape architect Adam Hubbard went up the hill to check in on one of our projects, the Hilltop Montessori School. Stevens & Associates performed civil engineering, site design, and landscape architecture for this project, which was completed in 2009. We wanted to return to see how the landscaping had grown in and how the circulation design was working. The short answer: beautifully.

    Hilltop Montessori School accepts students from preschool through eighth grade, and has a strong focus on knowledge of the natural world. The school wanted a campus that would reflect the varying needs of its students; provide playing fields, outdoor play areas, and vegetable gardens; and be environmentally sensitive to the site and the world beyond it.

    The result is a site design that keeps most student circulation away from vehicle traffic and guides students down carefully designed paths.

    The constructed wetland, designed to filter and treat stormwater runoff, has grown in very nicely and is performing well. It offers educational and recreational opportunities for students, and offers a great view of our Vermont valley.