Today's military doesn't require the domestic geographic dispersion it once did. And while the next round of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Act) base closures proposed for 2013 and 2015 was voted down by the House Armed Services Committee in May, defense secretary Leon Panetta asserts that more military base closures are inevitable. So as these vast swaths of land and their infrastructure become available, what is the best way to repurpose them?
The reuse of military bases varies widely—from the park-centric Governors Island in New York to science and technology-focused Fort McPherson in Georgia. Usually, some degree of mixed uses is most advantageous, but the specific proportions of residential, recreational, and business uses should be considered in the context of surrounding communities, geography, and available infrastructure.
Sasaki has a rich history of working with former military bases across the country, creating master plans to guide their transition to civilian life. In aggregate, they demonstrate the range of possibility for base reuse.
The Presidio in San Francisco, California, is Sasaki's hallmark project of this kind. We provided planning and urban design to create a comprehensive land use policy plan for this iconic area overlooking the bay that today offers primarily recreational uses. Devens, in central Massachusetts, was formerly the army's New England headquarters. After its closure, we prepared the master plan, and the area is now a burgeoning mix of residential and business uses with a strong emphasis on high technology. Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York, is a former Air Force base for which we created a master plan. Today, Griffiss is comprised of development districts with specific focuses in technology, manufacturing, aviation, office, education, and recreation. Lowry, in Denver, Colorado, is another former Air Force base that we worked on, and it has since been converted into a sustainable, mixed-use community. We also prepared the master plan for the Charleston Naval Shipyard, which sought to mitigate the economic impact of the base closure with marine industrial and cargo-related uses, and also provided for a waterfront park and recreational uses.
Presently, Sasaki is working at Fort Monroe in Virginia—a former U.S. Army base which was closed as a military facility in 2011. Sasaki's plan will identify a long-term vision for reuse of the property, key implementation projects, and a detailed real estate strategy for attracting new uses and investment to Fort Monroe.
Sasaki was also recently selected to create a master plan for Fort DuPont in Delaware City, Delaware. Located along the Delaware River, Fort DuPont is listed as a National Historic District functions as a park, and also home to several state agencies. "We are excited to work with the State Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), Delaware City, and the community to determine the best way to repurpose and revitalize Fort DuPont," Fred Merrill, principal in charge of both the Fort Monroe and Fort DuPont projects.
The first public meeting of the Fort DuPont master planning process