South Whitehall Township, PA / 2022

Kohler Ridge Park

A nature-based park experience 

In the late 1800’s a portion of this steep ridge was once a brick manufacturing plant with slate quarries and large brick kilns; following the closure of these facilities, it transitioned into a landscape of forest and open meadow. Emphasizing the unique and storied history of the site, the design for Kohler Ridge Park activates areas of forest, meadow, and post-industrial ruin through playful and educational moments. Ecological regeneration strategies revitalize the landscape and frame views that sprawl out toward the focal point of Kittatinny Ridge in the distance, with moments for art and play within the forest. As you traverse the site, explore, play, relax and climb, you become oriented within the lush surroundings of this park and the greater landscape of the Lehigh Valley and Blue Mountains, a seemingly endless range of azure to the north.

The master plan provides design and framework for a nature-based passive park and long-range phasing plan that tie together three parcels recently acquired by the Township. The plan was formed through an innovative community engagement process, inviting the voices of all in South Whitehall to inform the design. Kohler Ridge is designed as an accessible, inclusive place to engage with nature. Through iterative discussions and surveys, the plan connects the dots between community ambitions and concerns to form a resolute vision for a park that will welcome all. The plan introduces prioritized ADA-accessible pathways in the core of the park, as well as overlooks that envelop users in the canopies of the forest. Thoughtful insertions of active programming such as play and environmental education engage a broad range of visitors. The phasing and funding of the project will be incremental in nature, as budgets and funding allow in coming years.