Project Management Institute

Old infrastructure, new life


How to repurpose abandoned buildings and defunct infrastructure to best meet a community's needs is a problem seen in cities around the world. These projects are creative examples of how project leaders are reimagining these defunct spaces into revitalized resources.

1 River Walk

Moscow, Russia is far from a pedestrian paradise: Foot traffic is largely channeled into the city's hundreds of underground crossings, which run beneath the sprawling eight-lane highways that shoot out from the downtown center. The Russian capital ranked as the leading European metropolitan area for auto congestion levels in 2014, according to GPS manufacturer TomTom.

To help shake its reputation as a motorway mecca, the city approved a project to replace a four-lane roadway with a 45,000-square-meter (484,000-square-foot) public park. Project objectives included revitalizing the surrounding areas by building a public space that is accessible year-round.

Russian studio Wowhaus began sketching the new park without a confirmed budget, dividing the area into outdoor zones (filled with fountains, bike paths and lit pavilions) and indoor cafés and artist studios. After the studio presented project plans and a traffic analysis to the city's mayor, the RUB2 billion project was approved and completed in eight months. It is now the first year-round park in Moscow.


2 Elevated Trail

A 2.7-mile (4.3-kilometer) stretch of the Bloomingdale train line in Chicago, Illinois, USA has been the subject of rehab speculation since its last freight ran in 2001. More than a decade later, a US$95 million project is finally underway to transform the space into a cycling and jogging path surrounded by new parks.

Originally slated for completion in late 2014, the project experienced a setback when an abnormally cold winter froze the team's excavation phase. That caused project delays including cutting short the planting season originally scheduled for late summer. Plantings will now occur in the second quarter of this year.

“We want to ... meet the visions set forth for the community,” transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld told the Chicago Tribune.


3 Factory Farm

The Guangdong Float Glass Factory in Shenzhen, China stopped production in 2009. The derelict factory didn't just sit empty; it was in disarray. “The site was a piece of abandoned wasteland,” says Tris Kee, assistant professor, department of architecture, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


Yet her project team saw potential in the space, and chose the site to build its 8,100-square-meter (87,200-square-foot) Hong Kong Value Farm, a part organic farm, part art installation developed for the Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture.

To maximize the CNY700,000 project budget, the team incorporated standing infrastructure whenever possible. Local bricks, for instance, were utilized to separate crops of bok choy and kale.

Though the installation has closed, the project team designed with the future in mind: The chief curator is developing a proposal to convert the organic farm into a public park. —Ian Fullerton

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