The Moran FRAME

The Moran FRAME

Located on the Lake Champlain waterfront in downtown Burlington, the coal-fired Moran Municipal Generating Plant was transformed in 2022 from eyesore to landmark through extensive remediation efforts and selective demolition, creating the first phase of The FRAME—a five-acre park surrounding the preserved steel structure of the plant. In 2023, the City of Burlington and Friends of The FRAME selected the MVVA team to develop a community-informed vision to help realize the full potential of the site. Following a six-month outreach effort, the design draws on the ways people have already embraced the historic landmark while amplifying its capacity to host year-round cultural programming and offer a more engaging experience of the waterfront.

The FRAME’s accessible paths have been elevated onto a series of gently sloping mounds that echo the mountains across Lake Champlain in miniature, allowing visitors to climb higher into the remaining steel structure and experience panoramic views of the waterfront. Four footbridges connect the site’s high points and Level 2 of the FRAME. This second floor will become an event space that connects to a Level 3 lookout platform via stairs and an elevator.

On the ground level of the FRAME, visitors will be able to pass through a garden filled with quaking aspen that will poke through gaps in the structure, and the south side of the Frame will provide covered bays for food and beverage vendors.

A skating ribbon will wind around the FRAME and through the new landforms in a figure-eight path, offering a year-round amenity (ice-skating in winter and roller-skating in the warmer months). At the steepest slopes of the constructed mounds, pockets of local stone and birch trees will give skaters the impression of moving through a meandering wilderness trail as they round each corner. The park’s planting palette echoes typical Vermont shoreline environments with a mix of birch, sugar maples, and native arborvitae.

Each hill tapers into a sloped lawn at the center of the site, forming a half-acre bowl capable of hosting 2,000+ visitors for performances when the ribbon is not in use, and offering year-round areas for picnicking and informal gatherings. Along the western edge of the existing Andy A_Dog Williams Skatepark, tiered concrete seating creates a viewing amphitheater and gathering area for skatepark users.

To improve connections between the FRAME and Burlington neighborhoods, the arched path of Waterworks Park is routed directly into the high-activity southern promenade of the FRAME, and site entrances have been routed into the multimodal Island Line Trail at multiple locations. On the waterfront, a timber boardwalk and pier will provide a more inviting edge to enjoy views of Lake Champlain.

The revitalization of the FRAME will contribute to a network of amenities located along the water, strengthening the connection between completed projects including the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center, Water Works Park, the Burlington Harbor Marina, the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, and public parking and restrooms.