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BY HANIYA RAE

Technology helps shape what hardscapes can be.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Courtney Goode was working on a project in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit. Buffalo Bayou, one of the slow-moving rivers that Houston relies upon to hold stormwater, flooded, and the waters would end up spilling out over the city’s aging infrastructure and impermeable surfaces, exacerbating the problem.

“My heart was in my throat,” Goode says. “We had been working on these super-detailed axonometric drawings of all angles of the city—we knew the city like the back of our eyelids. It was a total shock to see the bayous obliterated and murky, debris-filled water covering the walkways, roads, and even ground floors of the buildings near the bayou. The flood just engulfed everything we had been designing.”

For Goode, a landscape designer in Sasaki’s Urban Studio and a Fabrication Studio coordinator, the disaster afforded her a very real account of how the city managed stormwater and led her to think more about how low-impact development can divert stormwater from streets during flooding. She describes a scenario in which a city like Houston could divert some of the excess water by excavating 40-foot-deep gravel dry wells (the size of a typical four-story parking garage) topped off with permeable pavers that could hold excess rainwater until it’s able to seep back into the ground. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY JONATHAN LERNER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADAM WISEMAN

From the June 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

One bright December day, Mario Schjetnan, FASLA, was ushering a visitor around Mexico City’s historic Chapultepec Park, where his firm, Grupo de Diseño Urbano (GDU), has been enacting subtle renovations for nearly a decade and a half. He detoured, though, to show something that has not required the firm’s intervention. It was a concrete sump, perhaps five meters square, three meters deep, and open on top. It is the terminus of an aqueduct, completed in 1951, that brings water from 60 kilometers away through a tunnel under a mountain range. At the time, the city’s population had more than doubled in two decades, to three million thirsty souls. This new aqueduct must have seemed like deliverance. (Today, the population of the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico, comprising the city proper plus 41 contiguous municipalities, numbers more than 21 million.)

The sump, whose function was really just to hold water before it was piped into four enormous tanks buried nearby, was treated reverentially. Sheltered within a temple-form building, the depression’s walls and floor were painted by Diego Rivera in a fantastical narrative called Water, Origin of Life. The inlet seems to pour through the hands of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of floods and droughts. Swirling around the floor and up the walls are life forms of increasing complexity. There are an ur-man and ur-woman, and depictions of everyday people using water (swimming, sipping, irrigating gardens), of workers jackhammering rock, and of giant pipes and valves. When the sump was actually used, the view through water surely added a vitalizing shimmer, but water was destroying the mural. Eventually the flow was rerouted and the painting restored.

Now Schjetnan pointed to where Rivera had portrayed a gathering of two dozen men in modern dress, some in hard hats, some in suits; on a table before them is a sheaf of blueprints. “The engineers who built the aqueduct,” he said respectfully, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The finished and installed concrete cistern. Image courtesy of Concreteworks.

The finished and installed concrete cistern. Image courtesy of Concreteworks.

Hired to design the atrium courtyard of a San Francisco spec office building that features a canted glass roof that channels rainwater, David Meyer of Meyer + Silberberg Land Architects got a few simple instructions from the building’s architects at Pfau Long Architecture—the most interesting of which was to “do something with the water” that the roof would corral into a cascading stream, dripping into the atrium.

But that simple request kicked off a high-wire adventure that saw a three-ton concrete rainwater cistern installed in the courtyard, pushing concrete fabricators to their limits.

Meyer turned to the specialty concrete fabrication firm Concreteworks to manufacture the cistern at 270 Brannan, built by developers SKS. Meyer’s most important request? The cistern had to be one continuous piece. After delays from the general contractor, Meyer says, (more…)

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BY ALEX ULAM

The new Mosholu Golf Driving Range is part of a controversial water filtration plant project built at the edge of the bucolic Van Cortlandt Park.

The new Mosholu golf driving range is part of a controversial water filtration plant project built at the edge of the bucolic Van Cortlandt Park.

From the July 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Many things are not exactly what they appear to be at the new Mosholu golf driving range, located in the northwest section of the Bronx in New York City. Behind high stone walls and a gate monitored by armed policemen there are carefully crafted illusions worthy of an Olmsted design. A driveway leading into this place looks as if it were carved out of wilderness. On either side are sunken beds of untamed riparian plants that pool with water after rainstorms. Up a slope, past a low-slung building faced in rust-colored steel, you are at the high point of the range. The greens below are composed of hillocks with carpets of turfgrass, plush enough for a nap, which overlook a bowl-shaped depression.

Beneath the driving range is the Croton Water Filtration Plant. At a cost of more than $3.2 billion, it is among the most expensive public works projects ever built in New York City. The driving range sits atop a nine-acre green roof covering the plant, which is said to be the country’s largest contiguous green roof. It replaces an old municipal driving range bulldozed more than a decade ago to make way for the underground filtration plant, which descends about 100 feet into the ground. The subterranean structure is designed to filter up to 30 percent of New York City’s water supply.

The need to purify water, especially water that humans have polluted, has become (more…)

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After 10 years of evolution, the green roof of the American Society of Landscape Architects is producing a new and varied crop. Photo courtesy of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

After 10 years of evolution, the green roof of the American Society of Landscape Architects is producing a new and varied crop.

We recently came across this piece by Brittany Patterson at E&E Publishing on green roofs in the nation’s capital and their enormous (and necessary) benefits, which was originally published behind E&E’s paywall. E&E, which does excellent daily reporting on climate change and energy issues, has kindly allowed us to repost the article in full.

 

NATION’S CAPITAL BECOMES GREEN ROOF CAPITAL TO FIGHT EXTREME HEAT, HEAVY STORMS

BRITTANY PATTERSON, E&E PUBLISHING, LLC, JUNE 9, 2015

Nestled on Eye Street in downtown Washington, D.C., near the heart of the bustling city lies the headquarters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

From the front, the brick building looks like any other in the neighborhood, but take the elevator and a flight of stairs to the roof and you’ll find yourself surrounded by rows of green Sedum, blooming prickly pear cactus, and patches of lush butterfly milkweed and hare’s-foot clover. It’s almost possible to imagine you are sitting in the tranquil countryside, not just on the roof of a building covered in foliage.

As relaxing as they can be, green roofs are more than just easy on the eyes.

“Green roofs deliver multiple benefits for both combating heat and in the retention of stormwater,” said Kate Johnson, a program analyst with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). “Both are issues we think are going to continue to be important in light of climate change. It’s projected to get hotter, and it’s projected we’ll have more extreme rain events.”

(more…)

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