Rail to Trail: Post-industrial Sites

PORTFOLIO_2015 25Time is a crucial dimension for landscape. A site transforms through a range of time being reshaped majorly by nature when there is little human intervention. Interestingly, for a post-industrial brownfield, a site currently unutilized but with manmade topography and structure left during the industrial age, the landscape change is not just by time but also impacted by the previous human intervention. As a living organism, the change of a brownfield reveals the dynamic interaction of on-site landscape and complex process of regional climate. This study focuses on a Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) along the Buffalo River aiming to evaluate the landscape process of the site and risk& opportunity for future redevelopment.


Spatial analysis and land cover analysis are both effective methods for a site suitability study. In this study, it is shown that the spatial analysis and land cover analysis could reveal the spatial distribution and potential shift in the study area. This method could not only be applied for targeting the risk area to lose vegetation, but also could show the opportunity area with more new vegetation. The combined risk/opportunity index does not just show the current condition of the study area, but also show the trend of the potential vegetation change. This study shows that it is very necessary to study the site topology and land cover change for the Brownfield Opportunity Area. Especially the current vacant sites need to be evaluated regarding the vegetation risk and opportunity for the redevelopment. (Figure 18) The result of this study provides some information for the future planning decision making that some sites should be mitigated or redeveloped with new building, while some sites with vegetation opportunity should be mitigated and preserved as natural preserve site.



It shows that this risk/opportunity study is useful as a part of decision support system for future planning decision making, such as new constructions, new natural preserve or public parks. To improve the index, more information needs to be studied as current land use and the change of land use. It is expected a site analysis like this study could be conducted as a site background research before any planning decision making for the Buffalo River Brownfield Opportunity Area.



(Design Research with  Prof. Hiro Hata School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo)