Praxis has worked with several clients and communities in the Lehigh Valley on a series of design projects, including the design of parks and civic streetscapes in the South Whitehall area of Allentown, and collaboration with 11 towns to imagine new futures for slate quarries as heritage parks and other placemaking and economic development projects. These Lehigh Valley projects look at how programming can express diverse cultures and histories and act as infrastructure for building social capital, economic assets, collective experience and active, participatory stewardship.
Praxis led the development and design of a green infrastructure framework for a 14-mile section of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. Our design for this section of the D&L—an important gap in the 165-mile long heritage corridor connecting the Lehigh Valley region to Philadelphia which runs through environmental justice communities in Allentown, PA—fused major urban infrastructure for mobility and water management with new public space, heritage destinations, and economic stimulus.
We met with local government and community members to iteratively develop a project that was grounded in the region’s character and supported local communities’ development goals. Additionally, we consulted with environmental engineers, planning firms, and preservation specialists about the design of the project’s green infrastructure and to identify important sites and enrich their designs’ ability to interpret the region’s history.
Our plan for this section of the D&L was adopted as the primary backbone of the valley’s bike mobility network in the Future LV Plan, the Lehigh Valley’s long-term comprehensive plan and transportation budget. The US Department of Transportation awarded the project a $21 million RAISE grant in late 2021 to move forward with implementation, and state and city agencies have so far awarded the project another $35 million. Local leaders credit the Praxis’ compelling visualization of the potential of the project to transform Allentown’s waterfront and solve neighboring communities’ flooding problems with helping to build broad support for a much more ambitious project.