Project Spotlight: Jordan Creek Greenway Trail

Lehigh Valley residents who enjoy hiking and bicycling have been watching with great anticipation the progress of the Jordan Creek Greenway Trail. As outlined in a 2009 feasibility study prepared by Wildlands Conservancy, the finished project is envisioned to be a 53-mile-long active greenway to link the City of Allentown’s Jordan Meadows Park with the Appalachian Trail in northwestern Lehigh County.  Under the Conservancy’s direction various sections of an 11-mile segment of the trail to connect Allentown with the Trexler Nature Preserve are now in design or development.  Barry Isett & Associates has been selected to design and obtain approvals for a South Whitehall Township portion of the trail that runs from Covered Bridge Park west through four properties, under the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 309. 

The off road trail will typically be in the floodplain within 50 feet of the banks of the Jordan Creek.  Depending on topography, some sections of the trail will be an elevated boardwalk and a pedestrian bridge will cross the creek to connect to Covered Bridge Park.  A fence on the side of the trail opposite from the creek will protect private property and keep trail users within the easement.  Riparian buffer vegetation of native species will be planted around the trail to provide seasonal interest, stabilize the surface, and provide visual buffering from neighboring properties. 

The project involves meetings with the client and property owners and extensive coordination with permitting agencies including South Whitehall Township, the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, the PA DEP, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lehigh County Conservation District, PennDOT, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. 

As a multi-discipline firm, BIA is ideally suited for this project.  In addition to BIA’s landscape architecture team, the project involves BIA’s Construction Services Department for cost estimating, our Code Department for review services, the traffic group for PennDOT and turnpike issues, our Environmental Department for soil and wetland issues, and Structural Engineering Department for bridge and boardwalk design.  BIA’s trail section is anticipated to be bid in 2013 and constructed for opening in early 2014.


Dorney Park continues to thrill with new attractions - Dinosaurs Alive! and the Stinger

Dinosaurs Alive!, a spectacular 2012 addition to the stellar attractions at Dorney Park/Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA, features 30 life-size animatronic figures in a four-acre habitat.  The figures are the brainchild of Dinosaurs Unearthed, a Canadian-based dinosaur exhibition company, but Barry Isett & Associates (BIA) is proud to have played an engineering role in the exhibit, providing topographic surveys, site design, and assisting with municipal approvals for the dynamic attraction. The sale kiosk and entry signage are BIA structural engineering projects.

Educational as well as exciting, the exhibit provides a glimpse into the Jurassic age, with both guides and signage to enlighten visitors about what dinosaurs ate, where they lived and how they protected themselves. A 2,000 foot-long path meanders among five realistic scenes including a T-Rex fight, a pack of Deinonychus hunting down an Iguanodon and a 40-foot tall Ruyang Yellow River dinosaur. Youngsters can work in a dinosaur dig, containing the sand covered skeleton of a large predator, and even control the actions of several animatronic figures.

Nearby is a new thrill ride, the Stinger, an inverted boomerang coaster with face-to-face seating. The cars zoom up a 139-foot hill then fly through three inversions---forward and backwards---in 90 seconds of 55-miles-per hour screaming fun.  Once again, BIA provided surveys, site design, structural engineering for the canopies, and assisted with municipal approvals.

Over the past 20 years, BIA has been involved with a wide range of Dorney projects. Stay tuned for more excitement in the fall when a new Haunted House is unveiled!

Central Moravian Church provides rare view for BIA Forensic's team

BIA Forensic Engineer Jeff Shiver, PE, enjoys a rare view from the belfry of Central Moravian Church.Forensic engineers A.J. Fritsch, PE, and Jeff Shriver, PE, became a small part of the history of Bethlehem’s Central Moravian Church earlier this year when they were asked to conduct a structural assessment of the belfry and a portion of the sanctuary ceiling.  Upon completing their visual observation, they followed the church’s time-honored tradition observed by generations of construction specialists before them and signed their names at the work site, joining signatures such as electrician Howard Zetty on September 19, 1905, and Gus Fabry and Dick Cramer who worked on the pipe organ on July 25, 1954.

In the attic, A.J. and Jeff investigated the belfry structure and noted the massive timber trusses that span the width of the building, as well as mementos from earlier times, including a spinning wheel and sanctuary photographs dating back to the 1860s.  To complete their observations, they ascended from the attic into the belfry’s clock works level and finally to the exterior underneath the cupola and alongside the 1,400 pound bell, which has chimed regularly on schedule since 1868. The report they produced provided several recommendations for repair, but all in all, they found the church, whose cornerstone was placed in 1803, in sound condition for the third century of its service.

From the belfry, A.J. and Jeff had a birds-eye view of the Colonial Industrial Quarter, administered by the Historic Bethlehem Partnership (HBP).  The early Moravian community, founded in 1742, was an industrious one; buildings that housed their manufacturing trades now operate as museums.  BIA’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing department has been engaged in several projects in the Quarter.  For the 1762 Waterworks, the first municipal waterworks in America and now a National Historic Landmark, BIA prepared a study of options for a new heating and ventilation system and provided construction administration for the approved plan which was recently completed.  A similar study was prepared for the 1869 Luckenbach Mill, which operated as a grist mill into the 1950s and now houses the administrative offices of  HBP, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Upon completing the visual observation, A.J. Fritsch, PE, signs his name to the Central Moravian Church’s belfry. Jeff and A.J. check the time.

That's Entertainment...and it's great to be a part of it all!

 The Sands Bethlehem Event Center opened to wide acclaim with the rock band Incubus  kicking off the entertainment schedule on May 16, followed by the Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour on May 17th. Scores of ARendering of the VISION BAR - Sands Bethlehem Event Center -list performers, including Jay Leno, Loretta Lynn, Meatloaf, and Celtic Thunder, are booked throughout the year along with a variety of conferences.  Conceptualized and executed by the Vision Entertainment Group, the multi-faceted 50,000 square foot (SF) venue was designed by Howard Kulp Architects, P.C., Allentown, with BIA providing the design of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems, along with civil engineering to create the outdoor patio.

Part of the Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort, a 300-room luxury hotel for which BIA designed the MEP and fire protections systems, as well as all engineering for the pool and fitness center, the Event Center was conceived as a venue for entertainment, conferences, and private functions.  All seats, including those in seven private luxury suites, are within 137 feet of the stage.  The Vision Bar is an attraction in its own right, featuring modern architecture, hundreds of LED lights, natural textures, opulent finishes, and interactive programming to create an atmosphere like none other in the Lehigh Valley.

BIA’s Joshua Lutton, PE, LEED AP, was the project’s electrical engineer.  “We put a lot of thought into the use of the space which influenced both the design and selection of light fixtures,” noted Josh.  “We consulted with the architect as well as lighting manufacturer representatives to devise the best solution for the multi-dimensional needs of both live performances and conventions.  In addition to plenty of LED technology, we incorporated a flexible programmable dimming system to allow the end users to tailor the space to a variety of events.  Our design also echoed various facets of the lighting strategy of the adjacent Sands Casino to inspire continuity between the two buildings.”

Adjacent to the Sands complex is the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, a state-of-the-art 67,000 square foot performance venue that hosts two cinemas plus a year-round calendar of live performances, special events, and festivals.  The project, which opened in spring 2011, won statewide recognition recently.  The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Pennsylvania presented its highest award, the Silver Medal, to Spillman Farmer Architects, Bethlehem, for the design.

Crowd gathers at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacksAIA jurors praised the project saying, "The design captures the energy and utilitarian beauty that the best of the industrial revolution once offered.  At the same time it demonstrates the power that a truly successful marriage of architecture and program can exert in bringing new purpose and hope to the most abandoned parts of our community."

BIA’s Ross Sotak, PE, Structural Engineering Manager for the project notes: “Working on a project that is helping to reinvent a site that is so full of history is extremely rewarding.  Every time I go to SteelStacks I stand in awe of both the surrounding historic buildings and the buildings we helped to create.  Having had relatives who worked at 'The Steel', as they used to call it, and knowing the history involved, it gives me great pride knowing that we helped to create something that allows others to get up close and experience this unique site.”

Connections In the Community

A team of Lafayette College’s undergraduate engineering students took second place honors in the 2012 Sustainable Design Competition sponsored by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, successfully competing against teams from graduate school programs.  The teams were challenged to propose adaptive reuse strategies for Philadelphia area recreation centers in need of modernization and repairs.  The awards were presented at the Best of Greenbuild Conference held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in May.  BIA’s President Kevin Campbell, PE, LEED AP, spoke at the conference on the positive impact that green schools make on student performance by presenting case studies of Allentown School District LEED certified schools in which BIA played an engineering design role.  To help the Lafayette students prepare for the competition, BIA’s Chief Landscape Architect, Bryan Smith, RLA, ALSA, civil engineer Chris Williams, PE, LEED AP, and  BIA’s President Kevin Campbell, PE, LEED AP,  taught a lively session on green design strategies during the spring semester..  Bryan and Chris returned before the competition to critique the project and suggest improvements to the Vare Rec Center.  Their winning design included:

  • Use of natural sunlight for lighting and heating
  • Systems for collecting and storing rainwater for use on nearby fields
  • Walkable green roof, which could host a community garden

The class was taught by Mary Wilford Hunt, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Facilities Planning and Construction at Lafayette College.