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WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Lehigh Valley redevelopment projects keep bringing home trophies

The Hoover-Mason Trestle, just one part of Bethlehem's SteelStacks campus, has won more than a dozen development awards.
The Hoover-Mason Trestle, just one part of Bethlehem's SteelStacks campus, has won more than a dozen development awards.

With all of the urban renewal projects going on in the Lehigh Valley from downtown Allentown's City Center to Bethlehem's SteelStacks campus, sometimes it seems like it's another day, another award.

Unless that day is Sept. 7. Then it’s another day, another two awards.

Yes, the regional, national and international accolades have been coming in so fast and furious for some of the region’s prominent redevelopment projects that the SteelStacks campus received two awards on one day.

The campus was just a few minutes away from accepting its previously announced award from the Rudy Bruner Foundation for the 2017 Award for Urban Excellence Gold Medal when a news release went out from the American Society of Landscape Architects that it, too, was recognizing SteelStacks.

The association chose the project, by WRT Design of Philadelphia for the Redevelopment Authority of Bethlehem, as one of its 38 professional award recipients for 2017.

Selected from 465 entries, it was another prominent feather in the project’s cap.

Bethlehem has been keeping track of the awards the campus has received. Among them:

• The aforementioned 2017 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence- Gold.

• The aforementioned 2017 Award of Excellence, ASLA PA-DE.

• 2016 Best of Design Award in Architectural Lighting, Architects Newspaper.

• 2014 Urban Land Institute Philadelphia Willard G. Rouse III Award for Excellence.

• 2014 Global Award of Excellence, Urban Land Institute.

And those are just for the campus as a whole.

If you count accolades given to different components of the site, such as the Levitt Pavilion, the Hoover-Mason Trestle and the Bethlehem Visitor Center, you can add in more than 20 fairly prestigious awards.

That’s nothing to sneeze at, unless you’re allergic to international recognition.

Allentown’s arena project and City Center development are boasting pretty big trophy shelves, themselves.

City Center Development Corp. and the PPL Center arena project make up much of what is considered the Allentown Redevelopment District.

It has received awards from urban development and architecture to advertising and branding. It’s even been recognized by the Urban land Institute for its creative financing with the 2016 ULI Report: “Reaching for the Future: Creative Finance for Smaller Communities” award.

Some of its other accolades:

• 2017 ULI Global Awards for Excellence Finalist (The international award SteelStacks received in 2014. Yes, the Lehigh Valley made the global competition twice in three years – that’s the best in the entire world.)

• 2015 ULI Willard G Rouse Award for Excellence.

• 2016 American Advertising Federation Design Award – Gold and Best of Show – Brand Experience, CENTRO restaurant historic renovation.

• 2015 AAF Gold – Brand Experience, ROAR restaurant historic renovation.

• 2016 Associated Builders and Contractors – Excellence in Construction, Strata Flats.

• 2013 International Economic Development Council Award.

There are, of course, more with a scattering of local awards thrown in, but you get the point.

We are pretty darn awesome.

The Lehigh Valley has shaken off its image as the poster child for post-industrial urban decay. When visiting other parts of the world, you no longer have to explain that yes, you do live in Allentown, but no one is closing all your factories down and you’re doing just fine, thanks for asking.

Instead, brag about how the Lehigh Valley is the Tom Brady in the Super Bowl of urban land reuse, and we’ve got the wins to show it.

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