SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus in Bethlehem, PA Receives 2017 RBA Gold Medal and $50,000

Last weekend the selection committee met in Greenville, South Carolina and named the SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania the Gold Medalist and recipient of $50,000 to benefit the project.

Completed in 2016, SteelStacks is the $93.5 million transformation of an abandoned steel mill into a mixed-use cultural and entertainment district. The 9.5-acre SteelStacks campus was designed by WRT of Philadelphia and developed by a consortium led by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem. Envisioned as a “21st century town square,” it 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 project is a significant source of community pride as well as a local and regional destination, hosting 1.5 million visitors annually for events including free outdoor concerts.

“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. 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.”

2017 Medalists (clockwise from left): SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus (Halkin Mason Photography); Chicago Riverwalk Phases 2 and 3 (Christian Phillips); Iberville Offsite Rehabs I & II (Kronberg Wall Architects); La Kretz Innovation Campus + Arts District Park (Benny Chan/Fotoworks); Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building (Courtesy of Anton Grassl / Esto)

Four other finalists received Silver Medals and $10,000 each to enhance their projects:

A community-oriented mixed-use development integrating public school headquarters, public meeting space, retail, and transit.

Reclaimed waterfront that transforms the river into Chicago’s next great civic park.

The rehabilitation of 26 scattered-site historic houses into 46 homes for low-income families.

A cleantech incubator, education center, and neighborhood park developed by the local public utility.

“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. 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.”

2017 Selection Committee (left to right): Knox White, Scot Spencer, Kimberly Driggins, Deidre Schmidt, David Lee, and Willett Moss