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Posts Tagged ‘stormwater’

BY JARED BREY

Buffalo plans the country’s biggest environmental impact bond to fund green infrastructure.

FROM THE AUGUST 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 2018, the City of Buffalo, New York, cut the ribbon on Jesse Clipper Square, a small park named for the first Black soldier from Buffalo to die in World War I. The square, originally dedicated in the 1930s, was designed by John Edmonston Brent, one of Buffalo’s first Black architects. Today it sits in the median of William Street, a wide arterial street connecting downtown Buffalo to the neighborhood of Willert Park. As part of a broader greening of William Street, the park was expanded and planted with new trees and a rain garden. According to the Buffalo Sewer Authority, the project helps prevent some 284,000 gallons of water from entering the city’s combined sewer system during typical rain storms.

Green infrastructure projects like the William Street overhaul—small-scale interventions designed to manage stormwater on public streets, parking lots, and rooftops—are the bread and butter of the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s Rain Check program, a $380 million commitment that originated in a 2014 consent agreement between the city and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and improve water quality. Under the terms of its Long Term Control Plan, Buffalo committed to spending $93 million on green infrastructure to manage stormwater on at least 1,315 impervious acres. In the first phase of the plan, Rain Check 1.0, which began in 2015, the sewer authority focused on public projects that could be carried out relatively easily, according to documents. But Rain Check 2.0, announced last spring, is going for tougher targets, mostly on private property.

To help push the project along, Buffalo’s Mayor, Byron Brown, announced in February that the city would issue a $30 million environmental impact bond (EIB) to help fund a grant program that will encourage private landowners to install green infrastructure. Environmental impact bonds are a kind of municipal borrowing that links bond investors’ returns to the performance of the projects funded by the bond. One of the first EIBs in the United States was issued in 2016 by DC Water, Washington, D.C.’s water authority, to help fund green infrastructure related to its own agreement with the EPA (see “The River Beneath the River,” LAM, November 2018). Since then, more cities have begun experimenting with the bonds, including Atlanta, New Orleans, and Baltimore. In many cases, new funds for green infrastructure equates to more work for landscape architects. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Curbing Sediment collects sediment washed along curbs and street aprons in shallow troughs. Image courtesy Halina Steiner and Ryan Winston.

Research at the Ohio State University aims to keep stormwater sediment stranded on the road.

 

When Halina Steiner tested new sediment-collecting infrastructure in her lab at the Ohio State University (OSU), she noticed a mysterious magnetism pulling people toward the bits of beveled foamboard she had crafted into sediment collectors. As water mixes with dirt and sand starts flowing across the planks of foam, and sediment settles into intricately carved CNC-milled grooves, “it’s very mesmerizing,” Steiner says. It’s like sending a paper boat down a stream or, more accurately, “down the gutter,” she says, because that’s the exact place Steiner is looking to intercept sediment that pollutes and clogs waterways. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE, EDITOR

FROM THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The National Association of Home Builders, among others, is giddy about a new Trump administration rule that allows widespread water pollution and wetland destruction. In late January, the federal government put out its final fixes to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, known also as the Waters of the United States rule, under the Clean Water Act. The changes remove safeguards for most wetlands and more than 18 percent of streams. You are now free to fill these wetlands and foul these waters unburdened by law or by the unforgiving science that tells us which things turn water toxic and that water still runs downhill. The administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, even showed up at the home builders’ annual gathering in Las Vegas to announce the changes the group has wanted so badly. Their website headlined the announcement as “a big splash.” (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

Robert Royston’s 1967 Quarry Amphitheater has been carefully rebuilt in all its modernist glory.

FROM THE JANUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Like the classical theaters of Greek and Roman antiquity, Quarry Amphitheater at the University of California, Santa Cruz is an open-air venue with tiered seating. But what would the Greeks and Romans have made of the irregular rows, with their off-kilter angles? Even to modern eyes, the amphitheater’s erratic form comes as a surprise. Designed by the noted California landscape architect Robert Royston, the 1967 Quarry Amphitheater is as much a work of environmental art as a theater. The amphitheater had been closed for more than a decade owing to disrepair and reopened in 2017 after an $8 million rehabilitation master-planned by the Office of Cheryl Barton (OCB). Among the guiding principles, according to the OCB plan, was to improve it “without compromising the intimate, immersive, spiritual, and ‘magic’ quality of the landscape experience and the quirky spirit of the historic amphitheater design.” (more…)

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BY KOFI BOONE, ASLA

A civic hydrology park emerges on Duke University’s campus.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Having lived in Durham, North Carolina, for more than a decade, I’ve come to realize that it’s almost impossible to discuss Durham without referencing Duke University, and vice versa. Duke is a private university, and its West Campus, although in the city, stands apart and within Duke Forest, a vast patch of woods created through a component of a century-old Olmsted Brothers master plan. The campus landscapes cultivated by Duke offer a stark experiential contrast to the eclectic environmental qualities of a rapidly suburbanizing region. Duke’s campus is a big draw for wedding receptions, picnics, walking and biking, and the occasional respite from nearby urban life. Durhamites regularly use the campus as an extended city park system. I’ve visited Duke’s landscapes many times with family and students in search of memorable settings in an educational environment.

Duke Pond, one of the newest campus landscapes, has been an increasingly popular attraction. On a recent visit to Duke Pond with my daughter, she waded into shallow water to scoop up a tadpole and said, “This place is kinda scruffy, but I like it!” When I relayed this story to Warren T. Byrd Jr., FASLA, the renowned landscape architect who concluded his career at Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects with this project, he laughed. He was thrilled that younger generations felt comfortable engaging the landscape directly. Enabling the informal discovery of ecology was what he had in mind. On a campus populated with works by many leading landscape architects, most of them manicured and tightly controlled, the pond offers an example of a different aesthetic as well as the roles landscape can play in exciting the next generation about environmental stewardship. (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Photo by Stephen Dunn.

From “Look to the Sky” in the November 2019 issue by Haniya Rae, about a New Mexico residential landscape where a multilayered stormwater catchment strategy speaks to a different sort of beauty.

“Western water catcher.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

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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.

BY LISA OWENS VIANI

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Named for the walnut trees that used to line its banks, the Arroyo de los Nogales, a tributary of the Santa Cruz River, flows from south to north, descending from the high Sonoran desert in Mexico into Arizona. The main arroyo and its many smaller tributaries form a watershed, shaped roughly like a human heart, that is broken in two by the U.S.–Mexico border wall. Facing each other across the wall, in the river’s floodplain, are two cities, each named Nogales, that share social and environmental problems—including repeated flooding caused by rapid urbanization, ineffective flood control efforts, and the border wall itself.

Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, ASLA, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, and Francisco Lara-Valencia, an associate professor at the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, have a greener vision for these border cities (together called Ambos Nogales), whose streets and arroyos often run brown with sediment and sewage in heavy storms. Díaz Montemayor and Lara-Valencia want to increase permeability throughout the watershed, slow peak flows in heavy storms, and develop more ecological connectivity between the two cities, despite the dividing presence of the wall.

They hope their ideas for an extensive network of green infrastructure can transform the way the cities develop, not only to improve water quality and flood management but also to provide more green space for residents. As the cities have grown, impervious surfaces have too, destroying natural areas. Both cities lack green space: There is just 1.1 square meter per person in Nogales, Mexico, and only 2.2 square meters per person on the U.S. side, Lara-Valencia says.

“We are not saying development shouldn’t happen,” Díaz Montemayor says. “We’re saying, ‘Let’s provide a structure for that development to happen [that] is based on natural systems.’” (more…)

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