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Root 2: Landscaping for Water Resouces Management


Landscaping for Water Resouces Management …

Landscaping for Water Resouces Management

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  • 1. ROOT w w w. r o o t - l a n d . o r g From the Editors: staff Faculty Advisors Ann Komara and Michael Leccese The idea for R O O T began as a conversation among classmates in the fall of 2007, driving back from a studio site visit to the marble ruins near the Crystal River in Editors Bryan Ganno and Amanda Jeter western Colorado. Inspired by landscape writing in publications like Pages Paysages, R O O T made its debut in the summer of 2009 with the inaugural Unexpected E d i t o r i a l Te a m Anthony Marshall , Patsy Shaffer and Brian Stuhr Landscapes issue. Resourceful Obstacles marks my last turn as editor while introducing Bryan Ganno as the continuing editor. This issue takes inspiration from a Production Advisor Doug Ekstrand visit by former ASLA president Angela Dye who encouraged students and practitioners to advocate for change in Colorado’s restrictive “first in time-first in right” water Production Managers Kourtnie Rae Harris and Sera Sibley law. Dye’s call to action sparked an investigation into the obstacles that landscape architects face in theory and practice. Magazine Layout Patsy Shaffer and Sera Sibley Amanda Jeter, R O O T Founder and Editor 2009-2010 Conceptual Design Sergio Villanueva Preston Bryan Ganno, R O O T Editor 2010-2011 Photo Editor Erin Devine Cover Design Peter Chivers and Sergio Villanueva Preston Cover Art Peter Chivers Please share, recycle or up-cycle this publication. W e b s i t e Te a m Peter Chivers and Kent Martin Copyright © 2010 R O O T. Nothing shown may be reproduced in any form PR Managers Katie McKain and Jenna Perstlinger without obtaining the permission of R O O T and its contributors. thank you to the American Society of Landscape Architects Student Chapter of University of Colorado Denver for their financial contribution; Clarke Fine of American Web for time, support and paper; Don Gustafson of Print Matters for his hard work and excellent laughter; Mudo Printing for quality printing and the faculty of UCD for their continued advice, support and financial backing. A special thank you to Doug Ekstrand for time and energy beyond what we could reasonably request. To all the voices and eyes that went into the process of creating ROOT2 - it is only with a group of focused contributors that the magazine finds itself in print. To all who continue to challenge and inspire new discourse within the field of landscape architecture. To all who imagine and design with the goal of creating places that promote adaptability and quality of life. To all with the ingenuity to find resources within obstacles. And finally, to all of you who have picked up our magazine and who will engage the words that follow.ROOT v 2 |
  • 2. contents INTRODUCTION Michael Leccese theory & practice THE INFRASTRUCTURAL ERA Garden in the Machine Kathleen Kambic LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT IN DENVER Controlling S t o r m wa t e r a t t h e S o u r c e t o N a t u ra l l y R e d u c e D e s t r u c t i ve R u n o f f Katie McKain innovative design CAPTURING THE CAMANCHA Designing Fog Collection Te c h n o l o g y i n t h e A t a c a m a D e s e r t Ben Bookout THE BLUEHOUSE A Conceptual Design to Cleanse Poll u t e d Wa t e r a n d Pr o d u c e Fo o d i n R e s o u r c e - R a va g e d L o c a l e s Anthony Marshallvoices from the field BROADENING THE DEFINITION OF DESIGN An Interview w i t h Pa u l L a n d e r Deryn Goodwin ANNE WHISTON SPIRN Reflections on the Social Cons c i e n c e o f L a n d s c a p e A r c h i t e c t u r e Patsy Shaffer place over time RIVERSIDE CEMETERY The Death (& Revival) of Histo r i c P l a c e Bryan Ganno THE POWER OF PLANT AESTHETICS Self-Sown Garde n s , N a t u ra l i s t i c P l a n t i n g a n d t h e H i g h L i n e Amanda Jeter LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE Reconnecting the Bayou t o t h e L owe r N i n t h Wa r d , N ew O r l e a n s Sera Sibley | contents
  • 3. Michael Leccese has written many newspaper and magazine articles on design, planning and real estate and contributed to numerous books and planning reports as well. He served stints as editor of Historic Preservation News and Landscape Architecture magazine. In 1995 he founded Fountainhead Communications to work with architects, developers and landscape architects, and in 2005 he became executive director of the 1,000-member Urban Land Institute (ULI) Colorado. With Ann Komara, he taught Design Communications at UCD this year. [Many educated persons] simply Landscape architects Amanda Jeter, Ann Komara (department chair), Katie ignore explanations and opinions McKain, Anthony Marshall, Patsy Shaffer, Sera Sibley that are not phrased in terms of the and designers in and Bonnie Vogt. They devoted themselves to an unsung privileged discourse of academia or cause among writers on design and planning: clarity. professionalism… At best they treat general notoriously Design Communications posed, if not an attack, at translation as a … dumbing down to least an alternative to the excesses of academic writing. please a client or to entertain a popular fear writing. Many The class’s professor (me) often wondered what he audience—rather than as a creative or was doing in the front of the room. Why trust a guy who demanding opportunity. seem convinced they spent half his career in common journalism (and much of -Gwendolyn Wright, professor, the Graduate the rest in marketing) to teach students how to produce S chool of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, are right-brained Serious Academic Prose? Columbia University. I offer a few possible answers. creative people who Good writing is clear thinking inked, whether you Graduate school implants in many are explaining the Fibonacci sequence, posting on people the belief that there are terrible should leave that left- Facebook, drafting an owner’s manual or essaying for penalties to be paid for writing clearly, The New York Review of Books. Here’s a test: If you especially writing clearly in ways that brained rational stuff can’t explain it clearly, you probably lack a good or fully challenge established thinking in the field. formed idea or do not yet understand the concept you -Patricia Nelson Limerick, University of to, well, their CPA. seek to illuminate. Colorado history professor and faculty director, When they do write they often cloak thought in jargon, Good writing persuades, educates, engages and Center of the American West, the lingua franca of academia and design, and target of entertains. In the design fields, this is personified by from Dancing with Professors the critiques from professors Limerick and Wright. Pattern Language author and architect Christopher In spring 2010 a seminar of seven graduate Alexander. In this biblical work, he etched words so landscape architecture students and one department clearly you could design a house just by reading and not chair braved their fears through a new class called even glancing at the illustrations. And, by the way, he Design Communications. They are Bryan Ganno, changed the course of architectural thought and practice. Many key figures in our profession have pennedRO OT a n d t h e A r t of Influence notable works. A wandering journalist and author inMichael LecceseROOT v2 | p2
  • 4. his early career, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., thundered If people and practitioners influence, so do Thank you Ann Komara and the Department ofagainst slavery, and then practically invented both the magazines and journals. In 1904 McClure’s magazine Landscape Architecture for inviting me to help teachcity park and national park systems. took on John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil in a this course and to the students for starting R O O T . Ian McHarg’s Design With Nature sold 200,000 muckraking series. This immeasurably helped Teddy We also thank our wonderful guest lecturers Andycopies and swayed national environmental legislation. Roosevelt shatter the corporate monopoly system. Boian (writing and delivering speeches), Mary VoelzMeanwhile McHarg altered the face of landscape The Barcelona magazine Pel & Ploma produced only 15 Chandler (criticism), Doug Ekstrand (graphic design),architecture and advised four presidents. issues. But one contained an article that launched the Clarke Fine (publishing), Patrick Doyle (final paper jury), Lawrence Halprin’s elegant book, Cities, catalogued career of 20-year-old Pablo Picasso. David Hill (final paper jury), Patricia Nelson Limericktheir virtues at a time when “urban” was considered an In the 1960s New York magazine and Rolling Stone (academic writing), Kathleen McCormick (editing), Kenepithet unless paired with renewal. A showman of a forged new literary styles—the New Journalism of Tom Schroeppel (web sites and blogging), Stuart Steersspeaker, he would inaugurate his own parks by leading Wolfe and Hunter Thompson’s Gonzo, an outlaw cousin (grant writing) and Bart Taylor (publishing).hippie brigades of waders into his celebrated fountains. from just outside Aspen.(This is a free park, man!) Magazines may prove to be the print survivors of When a firm wins a proposal or sees a project the digital tidal wave - especially specialized annualapproved because audiences (clients, the public) journals like R O O T . Their tactile appeal cannot easilyactually understood and were persuaded by its be replaced by bytes or replicated on an iPad.message—that too is good writing. R O O T benefits from its engagement with pressing Good writing is excellent research compressed into issues that interest many outside the profession.sedimentary layers by long, hard thought. Almost no These include drought, water pollution, social equity,one, not even a fiction writer, sits down and produces population pressures, natural disaster and, in Bryanfrom some secret well of creativity. That is the formula Ganno’s exploration of Riverside Cemetery, a taste offor crippling writer’s block. If you are blocked, perhaps the have nothing to say because you have not done R O O T took a brave - that word again - start in 2009enough research or employed your senses to experience and expands its scope dramatically in 2010. UCD facultywhat is in front of you. and students foresee national distribution. Why else write? Words can outlast even landscapes. My hope: Someday students will be lured to UCD’sIn Denver, Skyline Park has been maimed, and the 16th Department of Landscape Architecture to write, a skillStreet Mall may be compromised. But thousands that will be seen as indispensible as drawing.continue to read Halprin’s Cities and Laurie Olin’ssketchbook journals. | introduction
  • 5. No work can be conceived independently of the human and natural processes that form its context. -William Shermani Infrastructure is traditionally considered purposefully designed systems that enable some type of exchange, whether it be ideas, goods or money. Subways, water pipes, power lines and sidewalks are examples of traditional infrastructure that promote city growth. But landscape systems are a part of theTH E I N F R AST R U CTURALER A Garden in the MachineKathleen KambicROOT v2 | p4
  • 6. PREVIOUS Venice, Italy. Gradual workings of water on traditional infrastructural elements illustrate how time and natural processes alter the urban realm. Photo by Alissa Ujie-Diamond 2006.urban matrix as well, and as such, they constitute The original relationship humans constructed with crevices, permeates surfaces, collects at low points,infrastructure. Landscape systems contribute to nature, first framed by religion, politics and science, evaporates - all notable actions modern city planningthe success of cities by fostering human health and can now be framed by sensory experience. This takes labors to control. Water moves through the city ashappiness; sunlight, fresh air and clean water all the privileged position that humans maintain “outside” a part of the water cycle, from tops of buildings tocontribute to the physical and mental well-being of of nature and deconstructs it. The landscape stops subsurface transportation tunnels regardless ofpeople. Urban landscape is often considered the being a backdrop and becomes active in the process what we design to prevent it. The landscape matrix“in-between” or the of the city is permeated by rain, pipes and humidity,“leftover” spaces Water shapes the earth around us. It literally forms the landscape through all conveying and transferring water from place toof cities, where presence and absence... place. This metaphor of landscape as threshold islandscape systems already exploited by people - traveling in elevatorsare broken down or work in isolation. Urban landscape of city building - as landscape infrastructure. Instead to skyscraper tops, descending to the subway. Waterdoesn’t present itself as a cohesive system until one of consuming landscape visually and literally, sensory literally mediates the urban surface as humans dorealizes that each vacant lot, pocket park or public and temporal experience reconnects us to nature in urban structures.square is connected by the movement of water, wind leftover places of the city, i.e. alleys, vertical surfaces, Alternatively, water can be a threshold, as a volumepatterns, animal migrations, etc. These often invisible roofs. Landscape as infrastructure becomes a means or edge. As the mythic River Styx or the Blue Lake,infrastructural systems frame our occupation of, and for knowing the city and world through multi-sensory water is seen as the threshold between life and within, the urban realm. and spatial tactics, where we can use systems of The River Styx of ancient Greece flows and is moved Landscapes have not been traditionally defined drainage or plant regimes as partners in a design across, like a thickened barrier, while the Blue Lake ofas infrastructure, but as places indicative of a set dialogue about occupation, place, time and making the Tewa operates as a door through which people cameof relationships (Jackson 1984, 3-8). Landscape to enrich the urban experience. Spatial and material to live in this world, like a limit. Some recent projectsrepresented what humans were not - wild, untamed, characteristics of threshold, time and scale are key have similarly exploited the barrier/edge/threshold ideauncultured. It was something to be consumed, factors for reinventing the urban landscape, especially but have been unfortunately considered one-offs. Dillerconquered and controlled. Landscapes are commonly in the design of water infrastructure. and Scofidio’s Blur building is a volumetric threshold,manipulated by us to suit us; modern agriculture and the where it is difficult to determine where exactly thebotanic garden are two of many examples of this. Such Threshold building begins or ends while the middle is evident.iiprojects are often large scale and strictly determine The material landscape infrastructure can Tadao Ando’s Church on the Water frames a pond behindthe function of landscape infrastructure within their best utilize to foster new conceptions of the city the altar as if to imply an infinity between the worshiperboundaries. Humans change soil profiles, modify is water. Water, which literally undermines and and the worshipped.iii Whether as the actor crossing thetopography and manipulate drainage patterns to make underlies our works of city building, has been threshold or acting as the threshold itself, water bothlandscapes more efficient for human uses, suppressing dismissed from considerations of sustenance and mythically and physically defines realms of occupation.landscape functions. survival as a species within the urban realm. It fills | theory & practice
  • 7. Time slowly eroded. Now, our connections to water happen If instead of choosing to build massive and Water shapes the earth around us. It literally forms in backyard pools, oversized bathtubs and local spas, expensive infrastructural pipe systems above and the landscape through presence and absence - as a completely divorced from the natural cycle of water. below ground, we started creating infrastructure at the gorge, a river delta, a massive waterfall. The primordial scale of a person, the efficacy of the water cycle could function of finding its level dominates; as icebergs, rain Scale increase. Decentralizing and deconstructing water or fog, it moves with gravity. It marks all that it touches, Water operates across all scales. Water follows rules infrastructure into human scale projects can specifically through erosion or deposition. These actions are which are not affected by the system it operates within. address recreational, drinking, cleaning, agricultural, violent, whether you live in a floodplain or on a mountain. Drainage systems repeat riffle and pool structures industry and other needs in situ. Infrastructural Gravity acting on water is never about a gentle touch. from backyard gardens to the Mississippi River. Water costs would decrease as each incremental water The constant tearing away or aggregation of material overflows a child’s pool similarly to breaching a levee. system disconnected itself from the urban whole and through the movement of water changes boundaries, It floods a bathroom the same as a city. Water is by no addressed only the urban proximity. Operating massive earth forms and plant communities. Water movement means restricted to the large scale for its additive and infrastructural systems is not economically or physically over time leaves traces of past occupation, a history of subtractive processes to be evident. feasible any longer in many places, is foolhardy in others the natural. In the last 100 years, the United States has built and impossible in yet others. If we can take any lessons Over time, the way we see water shaping the earth and then systematically ignored thousands of miles of from New Orleans, Nashville and Fargo, one would be shifts. Its sound, smell and taste uncovers memories stormwater and sewer piping. On average a water pipe that massive infrastructure tends to cause problems as and forms perceptions. The feel of water on our skin breaks every two minutes somewhere in the contiguous big as the solutions supposedly provided. can be both life affirming and terror filled, depending 48 states, a daily problem in larger U.S. cities (Powell on if one wants to be in that water. Flooding was once 2010, 43). Presently, water issues are tackled from A New Age of Infrastructure a gift from the gods in ancient Egypt where geometry an engineering perspective where what we build must Water is the defining and regulating element in the was first developed to re-mark agricultural plots after “withstand” natural and man-made problems.iv landscape with which we manipulate the ground to the annual Nile flood. The fertile waters left the fields The engineering perspective wants to garner more suit our needs. It is also the element with which we can and the people rejuvenated. In modern Cairo, divorced federal dollars to create “defensible” water control, in reestablish our relationship with nature, shifting from from the land, the construction of the Aswan Dam effect separating water further from the landscape. If one of open hostility to one of mutual benefit. Small precipitated the end of this vast natural cycle. Water instead we allow for change, modification and response water interventions inserted into the city to negotiate has defined realms of occupation through its presence according to the needs of the place as well as primary shifting realities of season and need is one solution or absence elsewhere too: at the Alhambra, the step human needs, major water disasters may be better to problems of pollution and availability. Incremental wells of Rajasthan, Shanghai and Venice (Duhigg 2010). prevented. For instance, Fargo, North Dakota might not deconstruction of traditional infrastructure reengages But with changing cultural standards, the simultaneous flood if the massive system of downstream levees on landscape architecture in the historic manipulation of occupation of people and water in these places has the Mississippi River were designed to allow for flexible site construction and disengages the engineering fields diminished. Our temporal connection to water has water control. from predetermined outcomes. The city becomes moreROOT v2 | p6
  • 8. RIGHT The 1888 Silver Lake ditch of Boulder, CO was the area’s final ditch to be built. It was constructed high above Boulder Creek in order to divert water across the rugged foothills to new residential developments in North Boulder. In 1955 the failing wooden flumes built into the canyon cliffs were replaced with steel pipe and rock-anchored bolts. Today the 835 ft irrigation ditch continues to source water primarily from just below therandom and yet more site specific.v Site Arapahoe Glacier in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, providing shareholders such as the City of Boulder Foothills Community Park and historic Long’sconsiderations move to the forefront of Gardens with the water to sustain their landscapes for most of the decisions. Experience of the city is Photo by Patsy Shaffer 2010.more meaningful. Two recent classes at the University of Colorado water and its place in urban situations. Often, theBoulder have pursued understanding of particular places chosen by the students were “sites out ofcultural systems dealing with water and the physical mind,” commonly ignored places one might pass byimplementation of accretive solutions for water daily. Two examples of this are 1. a green roof businfiltration, detoxification and control. The first class, stop and 2. a bioswale garden at a major pedestrian“HydroLogic,” explored the far reaching effects of water intersection.upon the development of human settlement, industry Each project endeavored to reveal the processand cultural production. “Water Measure” taught in of water moving through the site to engagethe spring semester of 2010, looked at reasons we people but were clearly interstitial sites that weremanipulate water systems and methods to insert water not treated as valuable landscape components.infrastructure into cities in experiential and effective Mapping studies and watershed calculationsways. Establishing some ground rules first about framed the specific conditions the urbanizednature, landscape and design, the classes endeavored landscape struggled to address. Then, criticalto produce work which valued site context as a complex designs tested whether the observed problemsframework within which water could be retrofitted to improve watershed functionIt was posited that all surfaces, all things can be and human use. These insertions into existingregarded as a part of landscape systems, to the point places allow the passing of time to be noted, peoplethat places are palimpsests of human and natural to interact with a natural system and re-enabledactions in the past. The interventions proposed did not the functions of the water cycle. Continuing workattempt to erase these traces but instead embraced on material possibilities and spatial characteristicsthose marks and revealed the latent possibilities of the of small-scale urban retrofits are part of on-goingexisting places. research efforts (Berger 2006, 44-45). Interventions ranged from interactive water human activity. Large-scale water infrastructure doescollection and filtration systems to complex Conclusion incredible damage to places both near to and far fromrealignment of water movement to promote infiltration Urban reinvestment and densification starts (in place and time) the dam, reservoir or flood controland conservation. Placing these interventions on the with water design. All moments in the city become project at which it is aimed, as well as creating no-man’sBoulder campus engaged the university community in opportunities to reinvest and reinforce natural systemsways that tested preconceived notions of the value of that support ecological function, which in turn supports | theory & practice
  • 9. BELOW An exposed pipe in the Asian Tropics renovation at the Denver Zoo. Photo by Jeramy Boik 2010. lands where occupation is difficult or impossible. “Like NOTES Technology: Water Supply (2007), 23-31; and Stan Allen, “Infrastructural a biological organism, the urbanized landscape is an i William Sherman, “Engaging the Field,” in Site Matters: Design Urbanism,” in Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City (New open system, whose planned complexity always entails Concepts, Histories, and Strategies, ed. by Carol J. Burns and Andrea York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998). unplanned dross… The challenge for designers is thus Kahn (New York: Taylor and Francis Books, Inc., 2006), 313. For further information on these and other projects developed in the vi not to achieve a drossless urbanization, but to integrate ii Philip Jodidio, “Blur Building: Expo .02,” Architecture Now! (2002): 3, two seminars and their effects on student design perspectives, please inevitable dross into more flexible aesthetic and design 170. This building was constructed for Swiss Expo 2002 located at Lake contact the author. strategies” (Berger 2006, 44-45). By scaling down the Neuchatel in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. infrastructural interventions in the city, we can minimize iii Francesco Dal Co, Tadao Ando: Complete Works (London: Phaidon REFERENCES wasted space and maximize user experience. Press Ltd., 1994), 282-287. The Church on the Water is located in Tomamu, Berger, Alan, “Coda: Urban Landscape is a Natural Thing to Waste,” Water is not just a resource, a right or a commodity. east of the city of Sapporo on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. in Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America (New York: Princeton Humans must reevaluate how we want to utilize nature, iv Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architectural Press, 2006), 44-45. instead of subsuming its products, in order to capitalize Architecture of Resistance,” in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Duhigg, Charles, “Saving U.S. Water and Sewer Systems Would Be on its processes. This design research on water and Culture=, ed. Hal Foster (Washington: Bay Press, 1983), 17-34. “Despite Costly,” The New York Times, March 14, 2010, U.S. Section, Toxic Waters landscape infrastructure is participatory in the ongoing the critical importance of topography and light, the primary principle series. narrative of landscape, available to human history but of architectural autonomy resides in the tectonic rather than the Jackson, John Brinkerhoff, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape not suppressed by it. scenographic…” p. 30. Also note the sixth section entitled “The Visual (Connecticut: Yale University, 1984), 3-8. “[T]he idea of nature contains an extraordinary Versus the Tactile” p. 31. Powell, Anne Elizabeth, “The Infrastructure Roundtables: Seeking amount of human history. What is often being argued, it v Raymond Williams, “Ideas of Nature,” in Problems in Materialism and Solutions to an American Crisis,” Civil Engineering: The Magazine of the seems to me, in the idea of nature is the idea of man; and Culture (London: Verso, 1980); Denis Cosgrove, “The Idea of Landscape,” American Society of Civil Engineers, April 2010, 43. this not only generally, or in ultimate ways, but the idea in Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (Wisconsin: University of Williams, Raymond, “Ideas of Nature,” in Problems in Materialism and of man in society, indeed the ideas of kinds of societies” Wisconsin Press, 1984); S.M. Karterakis, “The Hydrologic Cycle: A complex Culture (London: Verso, 1980), 70-71. (Williams 1980, 70-71). Now we have better methods, History with Continuing Pedagogical Implications,” Water Science & more information and new perspectives on how water supports city building through its flexibility and simple laws, nourishes both physical and emotional needs and re-engages nature in the on-going project of humanity.ROOT v2 | p8
  • 10. BELOW Pervious vs. impervious surfaces: Parking lot L, Auraria campus, University of Colorado Denver. Despite higher maintenance needs, permeable pavers are a low cost and more effective stormwater alternative to impervious paving. Photo by Katie McKain 2010. The United States situation as an obstacle to get around due to its many negative effects on the landscape, including reduced Environmental water quality, erosion and lack of groundwater recharge. The emergence of Low Impact Development (LID) Protection Agency (EPA) and effective stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs), the integral drivers in the LID and the Sustainable process, are changing designers’ perceptions of stormwater from a constraint into an opportunity for Cities Institute estimate designing with natural processes. LID eliminates the negative connotation of stormwater associated with stormwater runoff conventional practices because it is a new holistic development method that encourages stormwater to be is responsible for 70 incorporated into site designs using the natural process of infiltration. This reduces both the volume of runoff percent of all water and the harsh environmental effects of uncontrolled runoff. pollution in lakes, With our country trying to accommodate inevitable growth, stormwater BMPs will be important for rivers and creeks environmental, social and economic stability for ( Sustainable Cities Institute 2010). generations to come. This article: Urban runoff frequently contains litter, oil, chemicals, • Promotes the importance and need for LID toxic metals, bacteria and excess nutrients like nitrogen • Examines which BMPs are effective for and phosphorus. When developers use conventional consideration in design methods such as impervious surfaces, stormwater is • Reflects on current municipality methods often left uncontrolled. Designers treat runoff in this providing ideas for furthering the presence of stormwater BMPs at public and private levelsLO W I MPACT D E V ELOPMENT IN DE NVERControlling Stormwater at the Source to Naturally Reduce Destructive RunoffKatie McKain | theory & practice
  • 11. C O N V E N T I O N A L D E V E LO P M E N T SYST E M S Conventional stormwater systems treat precipitation as a waste product, directing it into storm drains and pipes and pouring it into receiving waters. Conventional development systems also cause undesirable effects in the landscape, such as reducing the water table and overall water quality, as well as forcing erosion, sedimentation and flooding issues. As the impervious surfaces that characterize urban sprawl development increase (roads, parking lots, driveways and roofs replace meadows and forests) rain can no longer seep into the ground to replenish our aquifers, forcing a lack of groundwater recharge. Groundwater recharge is a natural hydrologic process where surface water infiltrates downward into groundwater to maintain the water table level. The infiltration process filters runoff naturally through vegetation and soils. Not only do conventional systems prevent groundwater recharge, they also cause significant stress to waterways and affect water quality. When the natural process doesn’t happen, runoff spreads over impervious surfaces and gathers pollutants which wash into lakes, rivers and streams, contaminating the water. There is a negative financial connotation also: building impervious surfaces and evapotranspiration ground absorption (evaporation & transpiration) runoff concrete curb and gutter systems is expensive. Curbs and gutters and the associated underground storm sewers frequently cost as much natural environment 50% 40% 10% as $36 per linear foot, which is roughly twice the cost of a grass swale. urban environment 15% 30% 55% (75-100% impervious) When curbs and gutters can be eliminated, the cost savings and positive effects on the environment can be considerable. W H AT I S L O W I M PA C T D E V E L O P M E N T ? The negative effects associated with unnaturally high runoff volumes from conventional methods The ultimate destination of water after rainfall is divided into three of development have initiated the emergence of LID. The Low Impact Development Center, Inc. is a categories as displayed in the chart to the right.i There is a dramatic nonprofit organization in Beltsville, Maryland dedicated to the promotion of LID. The center defines difference between water movement on natural areas versus urban LID as “a new, comprehensive land planning and engineering design approach with a goal of maintaining impervious environments. and enhancing the pre-development hydrologic regime of urban and developing watersheds”ROOT v2 | p10
  • 12. OPPOSITE Low Impact Development Case Study | Parking Lot K, The University of Colorado Denver, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and the Auraria Higher Education Center combined efforts to convert Parking Lot K on the Auraria Campus into a stormwater test site. The functioning parking lot is also a rainwater collection research station where engineering students and faculty study the effects of stormwater quality and quantity. Over the next five years students will test a variety of porous pavements, infiltration basins, vegetation beds, and detention basins to promote on-site runoff reduction. BMPs are not only being tested at this site but at many sites across the country. We now have effectiveness rates for BMPs and can compare costs to choose the most efficient BMP for a site. Investigations for discovering new creative methods and new engineering materials will be an ongoing process. Photo By Katie McKain 2010.(Low Impact Development 2010). LID promotes the lead respectively. Bioretention techniques include far from its place of origin, depleting waterways ofintegration of stormwater management into site and adsorption, absorption, volatilization, decomposition, their natural processes. The sewer system is not onlybuilding designs, controlling stormwater at the source phytoremediation and bioremediation. diminishing groundwater supplies but is also causingbefore it collects and deposits harmful pollutants. 2. Increase Ground Water Recharge significant stress to the waterways and affecting waterAnother crucial component is to minimize impervious General water infiltration is important for quality. When contaminated water runs off into riversareas and have buffer zones between them. Allowing for groundwater recharge (replenishing the water table). and water bodies, it poisons the water and aquatic life,infiltration and daylighting of runoff to the surface will Unsatisfactory groundwater recharge is becoming a and the majority of it evaporates, never making it intocontrol stormwater at the source. serious concern as cities continue to develop land with the groundwater recharge cycle. Some runoff actually Development of LID principles began with the impervious surfaces (see table below).ii leaks into sewage systems of fading infrastructure.introduction of bioretention technology in PrinceGeorge’s County, Maryland, in the mid-1980s (Urban loss of potential groundwater new development within population growthDesign Tools 2010). LID was pioneered to help Prince recharge each year 1982-1997 1980-2000George’s County address the growing economic andenvironmental limitations of conventional stormwater Seattle 10.5 to 24.5 billion gallons 141,000 acres 32%management practices, such as water quality concerns. Boston 44 to 102 billion gallons 403,000 acres 12% Atlanta 56.9 to 132.8 billion gallons 609,000 acres 46%A D VA N TA G E S T O U S I N G L O W I M PA C TD E V E LO P M E N T1. Improve Water Quality As the statistics are directly proportional, it is not When there is not ample ground water recharge, the Many BMP techniques involve bioretention, a surprising Atlanta earned a number one ranking in both water table is lowered and negatively affects all facetsprocess which uses the chemical, biological and loss of potential groundwater recharge and acres of new of nature, including the drinking water supply. BMPs aimphysical properties of plants, microbes and soils to development. These extremely high numbers should to promote infiltration to satisfy the necessary groundimprove water quality. Hyperaccumulators are unique take the population increase into account also, but water recharge.plants with natural abilities to degrade, bioaccumulate Seattle managed much lower numbers across the boardor render harmless contaminants in soil, water and despite having a relatively high population increase to 3. Reduce Erosion, Flooding, Sedimentation,air. There are many species of hyperaccumulators: correspond; perhaps this is due to their advances in Water Temperaturebarley (Hordeum vulgare), water lettuce (Pistia stormwater management. LID practices reduce rates, volumes andstratiotes) and Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) are When water is sent to a treatment facility instead temperatures of stormwater. By reducing volumecommon types and counter aluminum, mercury and of infiltrating to the groundwater, it is often taken | theory & practice
  • 13. RIGHT Conventional rooftop drainage directs runoff directly to the storm sewer. Alley in Downtown Denver off 15th St between Larimer and Lawrence Streets. Photo by Katie McKain 2010. and rates of runoff, phenomenon occurrences such as 1. Bioretention Swales erosion, flooding and sedimentation will also decrease. Bioretention swales, also known as bioswales and Pollutants increase the faster and farther runoff travels vegetated swales, are long, narrow landscaped channels on impervious surfaces, and the increase in speed which cleanse runoff using bioretention techniques causes runoff to warm up before depositing them into as well as infiltrate water and act as a conveyance lakes and streams and adversely affecting aquatic system. Vegetation in the swale must be flood tolerant, life. Interupting impervious surfaces with permeable erosion resistant, close growing and have good pollution alternatives is the best way to decrease flow rate and removal efficiencies, much as hyperaccumulators do. volume of runoff. Aesthetically, providing green space A gentle slope is used within a swale to move water and visual attractions in a usually less appealing area, through it slowly enough for the plants to respond. such as a parking lot, is always a benefit to consider. Swales can be wet, riparian areas or they can be dry areas only to be wet during large storms. Dry swales TYPES OF BEST MANAGEMENT are most common in Colorado. Irrigating a swale isn’t PRACTICES a good practice except for during the establishment Designing with LID principles and incorporating period of two to three years. Grassy swales, similar BMPs into site designs are responsible and affordable to vegetated swales in their design and activity, are ways of incorporating the land and its natural processes landscaped solely with a mixture of grasses. The into development. The EPA defines a BMP as a major difference is maintenance and form: the grasses “technique, measure or structural control that is used can be mowed regularly as a buffer strip, be mowed for a given set of conditions to manage the quantity occasionally depending on aesthetic and stormwater and improve the quality of stormwater runoff in the filtering requirements or be left to grow tall. Swales most cost-effective manner” (Stormwater Authority: are inexpensive compared to traditional curb and gutter Best Management Practices 2010). There are many techniques, and although maintenance is an increased types of stormwater BMPs to consider for a design. A concern, a swale is still less costly and provides more site analysis should be performed to note the size of benefits. Studies have estimated the initial cost for a the area and the amount of water the system needs swale ranges between $5 and $10 per square foot. The to accommodate. Each BMP has its own pros and maintenance cost for a 900 square foot vegetated cons and is site dependent. In many cases, BMPs are swale is estimated at $200 per year. cheaper alternatives to curb and gutter systems. The The Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Aurora, Colorado following are some basic types of effective and efficient incorporates a variety of advanced efficiency stormwater BMPs. technologies which includes a functioning bioswale inROOT v2 | p12
  • 14. the parking lot. Palmer Elementary School and Marrama a rain garden travels a long distance and picks up excessElementary School, both in Denver, were designed in pollutants and sediments, infiltration may not cleanse2009 with bioswales. Although these specific swales it enough. This will result in contaminated ground waterneed to be under drained for the safety of the children, or clogged systems. In addition, the type of soil neededthe majority of the site’s stormwater drains into to accommodate proper infiltration of half an inch tothem, and they are not only functioning as an effective three inches per hour is an extremely important designBMP but are an asset to the education of students. pretreatment. The soil should have no greater than 20The schools were designed as part of the Learning percent clay content, and less than 40 percent silt/clayLandscapes program at the University of Colorado content. Although vegetation within infiltration basinsDenver, which encourages outdoor learning, social is encouraged for optimal filtering, basins can also haveinteraction and community stewardship in the students. layers of sand and rocks in a type of soakage trench, without vegetation.2. Rain Gardens / Infiltration Basins Infiltration basins are cost-effective practices Collectors of runoff water, rain gardens are meant because little infrastructure is needed whento be a short-term dry detention area. Infiltration constructing them. One study done by the Southwestpractices are highly recommended in Colorado and Region Planning Commission estimated the totalother arid climates to recharge the ground water. construction cost at about $2 per cubic foot of storageTypically small areas, rain gardens usually only collect for a quarter-acre basin. An infiltration basin filtersabout two to three percent of total site drainage. Rain water at a minimal level, therefore water quality is agardens (usually grasses) should be planted to minimize concern for the area, considering a BMP with moreerosion and provide some plant and soil filtering filtering purposes would help prevent ground waterfunctions, but the main function of a rain garden is to contamination.allow the stormwater to infiltrate into the ground andrecharge the stormwater reserve. These gardens are 3. Detention Pondssited close to the source of the runoff, and different Detention Ponds are larger, less particular versionsfrom swales, rain gardens do not convey the water to of infiltration basins, designed to temporarily holda specific place; they promote infiltration in a smaller large amounts of storm runoff. This BMP is commoncontained area. It is important to position a rain garden in Colorado’s arid climate because they handle theclose to the runoff source. The water table should be at short but strong storms efficiently. These ponds haveleast five feet below the basin at its peak. If runoff into a forebay to allow particles and pollutants to settle | theory & practice
  • 15. and be treated while preventing them from clogging commonly seen adjacent to parking lots and streets. has a 20,000 square foot green roof. There is also a the entire pond. Generally, detention basins can be Sand filters that use sand layering to remove pollutants successful green roof on the parking garage of REI’s used with almost all soils, but the outlet where runoff are also options available for planter boxes, but are flagship store in Denver at 1416 Platte Street. enters the detention area needs to be large, or it can generally unvegetated. clog with sediment. With that in mind, the pond should 6. Buffer Strips be a minimum of ten acres, making it a difficult BMP to 5. Green Roofs A buffer strip located adjacent to waterways implement in urban settings. Unlike retention ponds, A green roof, also called an eco-roof, is a vegetated provides a physical barrier for protection from which are always wet, detention ponds by definition dry roof system consisting of lightweight soil and plants development. An adjacent strip of vegetation will help up and infiltrate relatively fast. Some pollutant filtering adapted to survive the area’s climate. A very efficient filter out pollutants before they can enter the waterway. is accomplished with this system; in addition, dry ponds BMP, green roofs intercept rainwater directly at the A buffer will also reduce the flow rate and volume of can help to meet flood control and sometimes channel source preventing most of the water from becoming runoff to mitigate flooding, erosion and sedimentation protection objectives in a watershed. On the basis of runoff. Since the rainwater is used by the vegetation, of the channel. The temperature of runoff increases as cost per area, detention ponds are the least expensive a major advantage to a green roof is its ability to it picks up speed traveling over impervious surfaces. If and most common stormwater management practice. decrease the volume of runoff, thus mitigating flow abnormally heated water moves directly into a body of There are numerous detention ponds in the Denver area, rates, flooding, erosion and sedimentation. Green roofs water it negatively affects aquatic life, reiterating the such as the Grant Ranch Residential Development in promote infiltration for the advantage of the vegetation importance to slow the flow rate with an intercepting Littleton, which protects Bow Mar Lake under the Grant on the roof but not the water table. Additionally, green buffer strip. Buffer zones adjacent to waterways will Ranch Stormwater-Quality Management Program. roofs provide wildlife habitat and attract birds. A not have infiltration features since the water table will green roof also provides energy-saving benefits to the be so close to the surface. Strips can be any variety of 4. Planter Boxes building, including increased roof insulation, mitigating vegetation, from a simple grassy strip to a forest area. Planter boxes are structural landscaped reservoirs building and roof temperatures and possibly doubling Buffer strips can be an aesthetically pleasing way to designed to catch water, filter it and then promote the roof’s lifespan. define the floodplain or to use adjacent to impervious infiltration to ground water. Different from a bioswale, There are two types of green roofs, intensive and surfaces such as parking lots while providing wildlife a planter box doesn’t convey water, and is situated in a extensive. Intensive green roofs promote human habitat and a location for snow storage. The flexibility significantly smaller, more structured environment. Due interaction where people are encouraged to connect of the strips keeps the costs minimal. A grassed buffer to the configuration, a planter box will usually require an with plant life through paths and gathering areas, strip adjacent to a parking lot can be seen at Wendy’s at overflow valve and is most effective when a filter fabric whereas extensive green roofs contain only vegetation. Ridgeview Commercial Center in Colorado Springs. is used within the base. Planters may be used to help A green roof is a relatively high cost BMP up front but fulfill site specific landscaping requirements in addition has energy-saving returns that are worthwhile down the to handling stormwater constructively and are most road. In Denver, the EPA’s newly built Region 8 officeROOT v2 | p14
  • 16. BELOW The Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Aurora, CO incorporates a variety of advanced efficiency technologies which includes a functioning bioswale in the parking lot. Vegetation in bioretention swales must be flood tolerant, erosion resistant, close growing and have good pollution removal efficiencies. Photo by Katie McKain 2010.7. Tree Plantings 8. Permeable Paving more natural alternative to impervious paving. One of the most underutilized BMPs, tree plantings Although permeable paving doesn’t have all the Around Denver there are many sites whereare effective at mitigating stormwater in urban settings benefits of most other systems, it is the alternative to installed porous pavements are being monitored fordue to their ability to absorb large amounts of water impervious paving, where runoff hits its peak damage effectiveness. Pervious asphalt and concrete are fairlywhile occupying minimal surface area. Trees provide point. Permeable paving allows for water to percolate new technologies (designed to infiltrate stormwatershade and habitat, which helps reduce the heat island through cracks in pavers and infiltrate directly to the runoff instead of shedding it off the surface) that tryeffect. Trees are also an important factor in cleansing soil, preventing runoff from occurring. Permeable to maintain the smooth and durable features thatand filtering the air. The branches and leaves of trees paving is one of the easiest ways to reduce runoff. asphalt and concrete provide. The Urban Drainage andhelp to soften rainfall speed, reducing stormwater flow Examples of permeable paving include paving blocks Flood Control District (UDFCD) is currently monitoringrates and decreasing erosion. Trees also help aid the of numerous shapes and sizes, plastic grids which allow pervious concrete at a test site in Lakewood (Lakewoodview shed, break up the impervious landscape, provide grass growth between the plastic, pervious concrete City Shops maintenance building at 850 Parfet Street).small but essential green spaces, linking walkways and and pervious asphalt. The numerous different types Many other pervious concrete examples exist buttrails and reduce the visual dominance of cars. Property of permeable paving materials provide flexibility in are not being monitored, such as Safeway at 14thowners in Denver are responsible for the care and choosing the most appropriate system for the usage. In and Krameria Streets in Denver and the Wal-Mart atmaintenance of their street trees (Denver Tree Laws arid climates like Colorado, permeable paving systems I-70 and Tower Road in Aurora (Urban Drainage andand Regulations 2010). work better than mortared paving systems due to the Flood Control District 2008). Both porous asphalt and intermittent freeze-thaw cycles. Although needing permeable concrete paving blocks are being monitored more maintenance, permeable pavers are a low cost and and tested at the Denver Wastewater Management Building located at 2000 West 3rd Avenue. S T O R M W AT E R A U T H O R I T Y P R O C E S S The EPA furnishes federal regulations on stormwater management. States can then choose to personalize their own stormwater policies, which are to be mirrored after the federal program or follow the EPA regulations and keep the EPA responsible for administering the state’s stormwater management plan. The Stormwater Authority gathers state stormwater information into one place. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is responsible for | theory & practice
  • 17. administering Colorado’s stormwater management plan. Colorado has an immense amount of stormwater resources including published documents, forums and a knowledgeable taskforce. There are many affiliated companies and public agencies, some nonprofit, that dedicate time to the promotion of LID in Denver. These include but are not limited to the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, the Colorado Association for Stormwater and Floodplain Managers, the Colorado Stormwater Council and the Cherry Creek Stewardship Partners. The Clean Water Act of 1972 aims to reduce pollutant discharges into waterways, finance wastewater treatment facilities and manage polluted runoff. The Clean Water Act authorized the EPA extent practical, the standard for a SWMP is not set adopted a similar concept while also using a variety of to implement the National Pollutant Discharge high to encourage the largest participation possible. In other techniques to calculate the charge. Today, even Elimination System (NPDES) program in 1972, which addition, infrastructure built before the law was set was more progressive ways of thinking are emerging. later included a permit program in 1990. The NPDES grandfathered in, and many existing storm drains are not program requires Municipal Separate Storm Sewer compliant with SWMP standards, meaning many drains ADDITIONAL INCENTIVES FOR Systems (MS4s) to apply for permits with regulations lead runoff directly into a waterway. In Colorado, there INCORPORATING LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT based on their population size. MS4s are publicly are no numeric requirements for stormwater pollutant In addition to credit opportunities to offset owned or operated stormwater infrastructure (which removal established at this time. monthly or yearly stormwater fees and decrease MS4 is not part of wastewater treatment), such as curbs, To help fund the SWMP, Denver implemented an infrastructure requirements, there are other ways to culverts and pipes. Common owners and operators of annual storm drainage service charge in January 1981. promote LID. Incorporating stormwater treatment MS4s include cities, towns and public institutions. The An earlier attempt in 1974 failed due to an apparent lack into parking areas and landscaped zones will reduce permits hold the MS4s responsible for establishing of public knowledge regarding the need for the charge. required detention volume on the site. This allows for a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP), which Denver currently uses a rate table with multipliers an increase in building area and the potential for further meets six minimum measures to educate residents ranging from $0.37 to $1.17 per 100 square feet of profitability for an LID educated developer. There is and control discharges.iii Although the NPDES program impervious area, and the rate is determined by the ratio liability associated with altering original hydrology requires stormwater to be treated to the maximum of impervious area to total area (American Public Works patterns, and since LID techniques are meant to Association 1981). Many other cities across the country, mimic predevelopment hydrology there is a reduced such as Billings, Montana and Tacoma, Washington haveROOT v2 | p16
  • 18. OPPOSITE Green roofs like this one have become a resident-initiated practice in Sandy, Oregon in response to a municipal Stormwater Management Incentive Program. A small community of 5,800 people located 21 miles southeast of Portland, Sandy set the bar high not only with the launch of a monthly stormwater management fee, but they also have initiated a stormwater management incentive credit program to encourage the use of BMPs. Property owners are awarded credits based on the BMPs implemented, and the end result is a discounted monthly charge in addition to all the benefits of controlling runoff at the source. The town believes if the amount of runoff that enters their stormwater system infrastructure could be reduced so would their overall costs. This concept of attacking stormwater at the source not only mitigates infrastructure costs but also is the best way to prevent nonpoint source pollution. According to the EPA, many states report nonpoint source pollution as the leading cause of water quality problems. The town of Sandy encourages property owners to reduce runoff by decreasing impervious surfaces. While the city acknowledges it may be impractical to eliminate all impervious surfaces, it offers credits for the re-directing of runoff into vegetated areas on site, therefore reducing the effect of impervious surfaces. Locally, at Denver International Airport flow diversion techniques intercept 80 percent of the glycol used in airplane de-icing and prevent it from entering Barr Lake, the local receiving water body. MS4 administrators do control public stormwater pollution, but the responsibility of water quality should not solely be left to public officials. In addition, it is also up to private citizens to change their methods of handling stormwater. Incorporating public and private sectors into stormwater management systems, as Sandy does effectively, allows for optimum impacts throughout the entire MS4. Photo by Patsy Shaffer 2010.potential liability for the developer. Properly designed such affirmative outcomes emerging from creative lowlandscaped zones which are fed with stormwater reduce cost design ideas, LID has transformed conventionalrequirements for irrigation and lower building operation perceptions of stormwater as an obstacle, and it cancosts. Perhaps in the future, agencies can promote LID now be viewed as an opportunity to give back to thein the private sector by offering density bonuses to land. Rather than designing around stormwater we candevelopers who incorporate LID principles. This idea now embrace it by utilizing similar to the density bonus offered to developers indowntown Denver if they incorporate public spaces intheir designs. To “frost the cake,” many of the BMPs thatcan be incorporated into LID are already available and TA B L E S O U R C E S A N D N O T E S 6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations.can be built at a lower cost than conventional systems. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Water Quality Facts,” http:// i (accessed May19, 2010). REFERENCESCONCLUSION ii Smart Growth America, “Paving Our Way to Water Shortages: American Public Works Association. “Urban Stormwater The harsh effects of uncontrolled runoff have How Sprawl Aggravates the Effects of Drought,” http://www. Management Special Report No. 49.” Chicago, Illinois, 1981.made it necessary to change the conventional building (accessed May19, Denver Tree Laws and Regulations. Parks and Recreation (2010)methods we are so accustomed to in order to protect 2010). natural processes that ultimately govern the land. iii U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, “National Pollutant Discharge tabid/432237/Default.aspx (accessed May 1, 2010).LID stormwater management methods, with focus on Elimination System: April 2003” City and County of Denver. “Water Quality Management Plan.” http://handling stormwater at the source, will be important to stormwater/pdf/R8%20Small%20MS4%20Permit%20Fact% (accessed May 1, 2010).incorporate for the environmental, social and economic 20Sheet.pdf (accessed May 1, 2010). The six minimum measures are: City of Sandy. “Stormwater Management Incentive Program.” http://stability of the world’s future. Research is showing 1. Public Education and Outreach on Storm Water Impacts; 2. Public{A9D3CDDE-3BA0-positive results using LID to design for stormwater Involvement/Participation; 3. Illicit discharge detection and elimination; 42DE-BE30-4E321A155AA8} (accessed May 1, 2010).management at the source rather than ignoring it. With 4. Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control; 5. Post-Construction Colorado Association of Stormwater and Floodplain Managers. “Low Storm Water Management in New Development and Redevelopment; and Impact Development Photo Base.” | theory & practice
  • 19. BELOW Conventional parking lot drains allow parking lot pollutants to travel directly into rivers. Parking lot L, Auraria Campus, University of Colorado Denver. Photo by Katie McKain 2010.committee/LID-Summary.htm (accessed May 1, 2010). Nonpoint Source Colorado. “Reducing Stormwater DeLaria, Michelle. “Low Impact Development as a Costs through Low Impact Development (LID)Stormwater Management Technique.” http://www.npscolorado. Strategies and Practices.” (accessed May 1, 2010). reducingstormwatercosts.pdf (accessed May 1, 2010). Denver International Airport. “Aircraft Deicing Fluid Stormwater Authority: Best Management Practices. http://Collection and Treatment.” (accessed May 1, 2010).community/enviro/systemGuide.asp (accessed May 1, 2010). Sustainable Cities Institute. Stormwater Management. Denver Tree Laws and Regulations. “Parks and Recreation.” http// (accessed May 1,City and County of Denver. 2010).ForestryandTrees/ForestryRegulations/tabid/432237/Default. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Costs and Benefitsaspx (accessed May 1, 2010). of Stormwater BMPS.” Geosyntec Consultants and Wright Water Engineers, Inc., usw_d.pdf (accessed May 1, 2010).“Analysis of Treatment System Performance: International U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Denver, Colorado:Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) Database,” Region 8 Office.” denver-hq.htm (accessed May 1, 2010).Summary%20June%202008.pdf (accessed May 1, 2010). U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Storm Water Technology Fact Sheet: Bioretention.” Jojola, Katie. “Engineering Faculty, Students Seek Solution owm/mtb/biortn.pdf (accessed May 1, 2010).to Stormwater Pollution.” University of Colorado Denver. http:// U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. “What is source pollution?” (accessed May 1, 2010). (accessed May 1, 2010). Kula, Deborah, P.E. and Piatt Kemper, Jill, P.E. Interview-City Urban Design Tools. “Introduction to LID.” http://www.lid-of Aurora, Colorado: Water Resources Division, Water Quality (accessed May 1, 2010).and Environmental Programs. Urban Drainage and Flood Control District. “Urban Storm Low Impact Development Center. “Sustainable Design and Drainage Criteria Manual.” Quality Research.” http://www.lowimpactdevelopment. pdf/critmanual/UDFCD%20Criteria%20Manual%20Vol%20org/ (accessed May 1, 2010). 1,%202%20&%203.pdf (accessed May 1, 2010). ROOT v2 | p18
  • 20. BELOW Experimental fog collectors at Alto Patache: These are double the size of a Standard Fog Collector (SFC) but use the same principles of construction . TOP RIGHT Collection pipe: Collected water droplets are gravity-fed to the pipe as it descends to a connected storage tank. All photos by Ben Bookout 2008, unless otherwise noted. In the far north of (Ephedra breana) are just some of the plants that etch out an existence along with lichens and beetles Chile lies the Atacama in the harsh desert. They do not survive on scarce precipitation but on a continual cycle of fog called the Desert, part of the camanchaca, which blows in off the Pacific Ocean. By grouping together around the rocks and increasing greater Atacama their collective surface area these species are able to create small oases. Sechura ecoregion Because parts of the Atacama are inhospitable, this concentrates human populations to costal that covers a 1,300 areas or small river valleys that flow from the Andes Mountains. In an attempt to make life in the desert mile stretch of less difficult, humans have adapted the use of natural plant processes for their own survival through fog Peru and Chile. collection. Similar to lichens that use the rock’s The Atacama Desert receives an average of two surface area and plants that use their leaf surfaces, millimeters of precipitation annually, and during the the practice of fog collection uses relatively simple last 100 years the region’s largest city Iquique has not technology. Sheets of polymer-based fabrics received a single drop of precipitation 60 percent of the suspended between two anchors harvest the small time (Cereceda 2005). There seems to be little chance water droplets in the incoming fog. These droplets that life can survive in this moonscape environment. gravity feed to a piece of pipe cut in half so it Yet, amongst the rocks at higher elevations, life resembles a small trough. The water collects there seems to find a way to survive. Chañarcillo (Lyciunm and is again gravity fed to a holding tank nearby. At the leiostemum), Sosa (Nolana sedifolia) and Pingo Pingo Universidad Católica de Chile test site, Alto Patache,CA P T U R I N G T H E CAMANCHACADesigning Fog Collection Technology in the Atacama DesertBen Bookout | innovative design
  • 21. BELOW Specifications for a Standard Fog Collector. Robert S. Shemenauer 1994. these collectors are placed facing the southwest impression of snow but the heat, desolation and silence where the camanchaca comes every afternoon carrying of the place made you reconsider. As Rodrigo pushed varying amounts of water depending on the season. the overloaded truck up steep slopes and around Spring and winter historically yield the most; autumn corkscrew curves, we held our breath and clenched our and summer the least (Cerecede 2002). The cost for a fists. Having taught the class for the past five years, Standard Fog Collector (SFC) is $100 U.S. The water navigating the small truck around drop-off cliffs to the collection can average from one to three hundred liters camp site seemed to be just another day at the office per square meter of polypropylene material depending for our professor. on weather conditions (Schemenauer 1994). Fog Upon arriving at Alto Patache base camp, the collectors at Alto Patache average around eight liters first thing we noticed was the sculpture park of fog per square meter per day. collector interpretations installed by Universidad The excitement surrounding fog collection in the Técnica Federico Santa María based in Iquique. The Atacama Desert is twofold. The first is the technical installation stands alone in the desert as if waiting to be challenges of harvesting water in a harsh desert discovered. It offers no protection and seems to suffer environment and the resourceful ability to take the same feelings of loneliness and exposure that typify advantage of an untapped water supply. The second is the the Atacama Desert. One feels so vulnerable in such a innovative design of the fog collection device itself and its landscape with little protection from the sun and wind, aesthetic repercussions for landscape architecture. save a few boulders. It leaves most wondering how anything can survive in such an environment. There is Tr i p t o P a t a c h e / U S M F o g C o l l e c t o r s not much difference in looking at images from Mars and Universidad Católica de Chile offers a class each those of the Atacama Desert. Along with learning about spring called Paisaje Xerofito (Xeric Landscape) with the intentions of research at Alto Patache, we learned the intent of designing new, prosperous futures at its about the fog collection process, its potentials for research facility, Alto Patache. Each class visits the plant growth and potable water. We also learned about test site and groups create master plans and design the plant communities that survive on water droplets interventions. In October 2008 our Paisaje Xerofito class from the camanchaca. Constanza Caceres, Sarah Kutz, took a trip to Alto Patache to observe, analyze, sketch and Isidora Larrain, Thibaut Villiers-Moriame and I made gather ideas for an eventual master plan and proposal. group observations of the area we would eventually use Professor Rodrigo Pérez De Arce picked us up on the for our master plan at Alto Patache. side of a highway lined with salt from the nearby mine. The crusty white salt bound to North America gave theROOT v2 | p20
  • 22. BELOW LEFT The view from Alto Patache toward the southwest where the Camanchaca clouds originate. The Pan American highway runs along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. This photo is taken from an altitude of 800 meters above sea level where the fog contacts the tops of these coastal mountains every afternoon. RIGHT Plan view for Camping Oasis Bajo Niebla.Our Design: Camping Oasis Bajo Niebla Using our experience in the desert and building on previous ideas, we decided to plan a recreationarea between Alto Patache and Bajo Patache located on the hillside just above the ocean. Througha system of interlocking gabion walls, the project will protect users and plant life from the Atacamawind and sun, analogous to the way people have survived for centuries in deserts. Locating the gardens between Alto Patache and Bajo Patache allows for greater access fromthe Pan American highway that follows the coast as well as access to the beach. The location’s otheradvantage is it can be irrigated by a gravity system from Alto Patache, where we located all fogcollection devices to supply the project with water. We based consumption on an average of 30 liters per day per user with an average of 150 users perday and 500 liters daily for plant irrigation for a total of 5,000 liters daily use. Then we had to considerseasonal fluctuations of water supply. Thus we used a worst-case scenario in February where fogcollectors receive an average of two liters per square meter of material to calculate the installationof 52 fog collectors. Installing for the lowest flow from fog collectors at Alto Patache will allow fora surplus of water the rest of the year which can be gravity fed to nearby settlements. For example,high flow is in September when it is estimated the fog collectors can accumulate 18 liters per square meter. Consequently, our project can function on just six fog collectors in September—the rest becomes surplus water for export. The design group decided to celebrate this small surplus amount of water in such a desolate place. The irrigation system has a main collection tank at the top of the gabion wall system. This tank is fixed with a float allowing a valve to be turned on automatically when the tank is full. The tank would fill as fog collectors worked in Alto Patache and water can be gravity fed to the holding tank below. Excess water would then flow down the main canal at various moments and be collected in the lower holding tank for export. Potable water tap systems and drip irrigation would also be supplied from the main tank and dispersed throughout the site. | innovative design
  • 23. LEFT View from above Camping Oasis Bajo Niebla with access to adjoining Pan American Highway and Pacific Ocean. LEFT BELOW Sculpture park by third year architecture students from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (Profesors Ciro Najle and Jorge Godoy with collaboration from Pablo Barría, César González y Carlos Castro). The park was named Tardonaturalezas, Jardín de Niebla, or “Garden of Fog” and was constructed in a very desolate area. Specific project goals were to capture the camanchaca, allowing endemic species to take root near the fog collectors and to accumulate water for use by nearby settlements (Alumnos expusieron proyectos realizados en Desierto de Atacama 2009). These elegant interpretations of a simple SFC demonstrate the design and ecological potential of fog collectors at Alto Patache. With time we may see entire plant communities taking hold around these sculptures while water harvesting for consumption remains within reach. RIGHT BELOW Fog- collecting sculpture at the Alto Patache research site, designed using a combination of solid and perforated stainless steel tiles. The structure gains its shape from a series of metal ribs on the inside of the structure. The studio for this work took place during the first semester of 2008 (February - July). Photo by Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. The gabion rooms would have distinct uses such as camping and picnicking, as well as designated garden space. Rooms that offer a function are fixed with water taps. This water is then filltered through small gray water gardens, and along with water from the solar showers, it is collected in the gray water holding tank for export to the impoverished, nearby town of Chanabaya that currently imports water by truck. Water could be further separated into potable and non-potable sources with more infrastructure. Garden rooms use native plants found at Alto Patache, and by using gabions we hoped the walls would create their own ecology and begin to encourage plant and lichen environments similar to the process at Alto Patache.ROOT v2 | p22
  • 24. CENTER Upright sculptures at the Alto Patache research site. RIGHT Night rendering of strategically placed solar lights at camp Bajo Patache.There is also a plentiful supply of large cobble near thebeach, providing ready stone to form the gabion walls.Bamboo rods would be spread across the tops of somerooms for shade while the materials for wooden pathswould be imported.Conclusions The practice of fog collection in the AtacamaDesert offers unusual design opportunities. The abilityof this simple technology to alter the environmentin the desert to create more irriguous microclimateshas wide-ranging implications. More must be learnedto understand the most efficient means to use thistechnology. The team has just scratched the surfaceof design possibilities for fog collectors and the waterthey accumulate. Universidad Católica de Chile iscommitted to implementing a design intervention atAlto Patache, and with further academic studies byvarious universities we may see a thriving desert oasiscome from thin air, one that enhances local ecologies NOTES Desert of Chile.” Instituto de Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica deand local economies. All renderings are from the group studio work of Ben Bookout, Constanza Chile. (accessed Caceres, Sarah Kutz, Isidora Larrain and Thibaut Villiers-Moriame 2008. October 19, 2009). Schemenauer, Robert S. “A Proposed Standard Fog Collector for Use in REFERENCES High-Elevation Regions.” Journal of Applied Meteorology 33, (1994): 1313-1322. Cereceda, Pilar, Pablo Osses, Horacio Larrain, Martín Farías, M. Lagos, Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria. “Alumnos expusieron proyectos R. Pinto and R. S. Schemenauer. Radiation, Advective and Orographic Fogin realizados en Desierto de Atacama.” Tarapacá Region, Chile. Proceedings of the Second International Conference (accessed October 19, 2009). on Fog and Fog Collection, eds. Schemenauer, R.S. and H. Puxbaum, 2001, World Wildlife Fund. “Atacama-Sechura Desserts. 457-459. about_our_earth/ecoregions/atacama_sechura_deserts.cfm (accessed May Cereceda, Pilar, Raquel Pinto, Hoacio Larrain, Pablo Osses, Martín Farías. 26, 2010). “Geographical Description of Three Fog Ecosystems in the Atacama Coastal | innovative design
  • 25. The “Bluehouse” was second year LA student Anthony Marshall’s conceptual answer to LA Design Studio3, also referred to as “The Impossible Studio”. By linking two or more bluehouses, contaminants are removed prior to crop irrigation, thereby eliminating the threat of tainted food products. This is accomplished through the use of phytoremediating flora such as sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) which are able to extract and metabolize heavy metals, releasing purified water that can be utilized for food production. Additional design opportunities may be realized through the exposure of this process: underground water movement has the potential to be brought to the surface temporarily before connecting with the next structure. As the sun glints off the the walls – and watch it disappear into small pipes and reappear at my feet below. Immediately after released pitched glass roof above, onto the soil, the water vanishes again, fading into the soil’s pores and pulled back up by the roots of an I twist a ripe tomato off awaiting plant. Expanding its leaves as if taking in a deep breath, the plant stretches skyward, and my eyes its emerald vine. follow. Sharpening my focus, beads of water become Tipping my hat to a neighbor as he bites into a similar visible as they build upon the underside of the ceiling crimson sphere but a few rows past, the overwhelming and slide down like the water that flowed between the reality of time floods all thoughts. Harvest season has glass panes before. From here, tiny water droplets slip arrived. The time when patient friends and strangers down into what appears to be a small gutter. Gravity join to reconnect, reflect and of course, feast. moves the liquid alongside the wall until allowing it to Upon studying the brilliant red colors of a tomato in escape to the outer world. hand, my eyes soon begin to drift. In all four directions Out in the late summer sun, people gather. I stretch craning their heads to the west to gather the last hours stand tall, clear walls inviting the sun’s powerful light and my hand outward and twist counterclockwise an of daylight. Pipes enter and leave the building, diving warmth inside. Above, light gleams through a layer of awaiting tap. Releasing the liquid and filling my glass below the ground’s surface and shooting to the roof flowing water, trapped between two panes of thickened with water drawn from a large barrel, I catch up with above where flowing water emerges. glass, casting rippling shadows in all directions. once unknown individuals that have become like-minded What becomes clear is the connection of flow The water overhead prompts curiosity – what friends. Beyond the jovial faces a similar structure between the day’s participants – water, buildings, plants purpose does it serve above? I follow the liquid from comes into view. Appearing as a greenhouse, this and residents. Water continues to enter and leave each the roof’s peak, down its angled sides – where it meets building also contains the unique flowing water within building, ultimately consumed by those who quench the its roof. Rooted within it stand bashful sunflowers, day’s thirst. As I finish my glass of water, the questionsTH E B L U E H O U S E A Conceptual Design to Cleanse Polluted Water andProduce Food in Resource-Ravaged LocalesAnthony MarshallROOT v2 | p24
  • 26. linger. Where can all of this water come from? This dry increased levels of stress, pushing environmental the clock, consuming vast amounts of energy to removeregion of the earth is rarely greeted by rain. No wells are systems to the verge of collapse. The most startling heavy metals, pathogens and various toxins. Thesenear to bring water from the underground to the surface. impact can be felt in our freshwater systems. systems require tedious maintenance, substantialResidents avoid the river below as it cumbersomely According to the Environmental Protection Agency monetary support and the warm effluent releasedcuts back and forth across the landscape, carrying with (EPA), water quality assessments show 40 percent of offsets riparian habitat downstream. However, untilit toxins and runoff from polluting sources upstream. streams and 45 percent of lakes do not pass quality preventive measures supercede reactionary ones, ourOnly water found miles away is potable. But piecing the standards (U.S. EPA 2000). In China, nearly 70 percent reversal attempts shall continue.surroundings together, the realization sets in. This toxic of all freshwater resources are polluted, as a result To adequately address our global water crisis andriver provides the very water used to grow the tomatoes 300 million rural Chinese residents lack access to clean supply of potable water, we need dynamic, inexpensivethat rest in the bucket below. water (Plafker 2005). and localized systems that can be used in widespread Polluted rivers, lakes and streams are growing so Heavily reliant upon freshwater for ecosystem parts of the world. Furthermore, we need to exposecommon in discovery that our minds grow numb to such health and human consumption, we must search for the treatment process to communities, reconnectingshocking news. As nations around the globe undergo new methods to reverse these trends. Conventional ourselves to the influences we make downstream. Therapid development and strive to maintain heightened methods focus less on prevention and are far too question of how remains.levels of prosperity, our natural resources endure reactionary. Wastewater treatment plants work around One alternative grew to conceptual fruition during an urban agriculture studio at the University | innovative design
  • 27. of Colorado Denver. According to graduate-level landscape architecture instructors Austin Allen and John Lanterman, the studio focuses on design issues that appear impossible, forcing students to expand their approach beyond common methods and push conventional norms. Attempting to produce localized food systems within the context of an arid climate and limited water supply played into this framework. With an elevation of 5,732 feet and nestled in the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the village of Eldorado Springs brings forth multiple challenges as our given site. Here, long stretching plains from the east collide with dynamic montane conditions of the west, bringing drastic differences of topography, climate and ecology. Here, South Boulder Creek emerges from its mountainous headwaters and meanders eastward through Eldorado Canyon State Park, divides the adjacent town, slices expansive brittle prairie and merges with its main stem on the eastern side of Boulder. It is here where clear skies make way channeled to serve places slightly off its natural course, of these rivers and streams have been termed “over for the sun to scorch this eastern slope over 300 days and most importantly it is owned. Colorado water appropriated,” or unable to satisfy a senior right most a year, prompting water to defy gravity and evaporate law implies the Prior Appropriation Doctrine. Most or all times of the year (Colorado Division of Water skyward, drying the earth’s surface and leaving the commonly described as “first in time, first in right,” this Resources 2010). To obtain a permit now involves the ground in a constant state of thirst. Intense heat, policy, following a court decree, grants persons who first economic obstacle of purchasing rights from those who drought and unpredictable winter snowfalls that melt claim beneficial use of a water source seniority over hold permits – a costly endeavor. and drain east create a fragile landscape of wavering any subsequent permit that is awarded. When water If the majority of water is spoken for, how is it scarcity. Introducing food systems heavily reliant upon flows decline, those permits that fall junior to older possible for new housing developments to emerge each water sources surfaced as an initial challenge. permits cannot remove any volume until adequate flows year? How are water needs met for domestic use? However, climate and adverse weather conditions rebound, ensuring the senior water right is satisfied. In In short, some water is taken from underground are only half the story when it comes to water scarcity. other words, the older the permit dates, the better the sources. This action can still have setbacks as ground Water is not simply a free-flowing natural element. chance of access. Some major Colorado waterways and surface water are intricately linked. Returning It is held back to fill void spaces in the land; it is re- have water rights dating back to the 1850s, and some groundwater to its aquifer, typically through soilROOT v2 | p26
  • 28. CENTER Within a relatively small plot of 15’x20’, plants with a high water demand such as corn (Zea mays), can produce the recommended daily intake of water for 53 persons per year. fashion. This water can be controlled and quantified. To all throughout the world inside greenhouses. In the obtain a consumptive use permit proves difficult, almost morning, beads of water can be found clinging to the impossible. Nonconsumptive use permits are far easier ceiling as the cold night air cools the roof. The ability to to acquire. collect this water and return it to its source is crucial to Herein lies the challenge – to promote agriculture the design’s success. for a community with an unobtainable water right. The source of water in this case is South Boulder Seems impossible. Creek, adjacent to a dry prairie landscape. With the Perhaps there exists a method to overcome such a process of condensation in mind, ensuring a constant constraint. Perhaps the ability to release the consumed temperature throughout daylight hours must be water back in liquid form could solve this problem. If maintained to induce condensate formation from plants are known to release water, then getting this the flora growing below. Using water to cool a roof vapor to condense back into liquid form on site, by structure not only allows for the pumped water to definition, would be a nonconsumptive use. become multifunctional but also more reliable given its What conditions provoke water vapor to condense? ability to hold temperatures more steadily than air. The answer involves temperature. Cold air cannot Water began to flow. Ideas began to flow. hold as many water molecules in comparison to warm Once dew point temperatures were found, a roof air. As evaporated water ascends into the upper temperature of 50 degrees F proved appropriate. When atmosphere, it encounters a much colder environment. the water from South Boulder Creek is warmer thanpercolation, is likely to be enforced. What differentiates This is the basic understanding of cloud formation. The 50 degrees F, pumping it underground approximatelydomestic use from agricultural use is the notion of cold air forces the molecules to stick to one another, four feet below the surface will cool it to the requiredphase change. Water that is provided to agriculture gain mass and fall in the form of rain or snow. Down temperature. To make certain, pipe layout needs to be inis considered a “consumptive use,” as water will be on the ground we can see this with a cold beverage on a horizontally coiled manner, allowing adequate contactconsumed by plants as a liquid and released as a vapor a hot summer day. Invisible water molecules cool and time with the cooled subsurface environment. Fromwhen they “breathe” – a term known as transpiration. condense on the outside of the cold glass, loosening our here the water can be forced to a roof, flow parallelAdding the water released by plants to the water grip and keeping the drink coaster economy alive. across its apex and release by means of a perforatedevaporating from the soil is collectively known as In order to sidestep water policy and promote pipeline. Capping the opposite end provides only oneevapotranspiration. This water must complete the irrigation of crops as nonconsumptive, the designed way out – through the sides – similar to simple driphydrologic cycle before being available again for use. system will need to essentially bring the cold irrigation systems used on ground. Domestic use – such as bathing, brushing one’s teeth, sky down to the ground. Immediately following Once released, the water will move down through awashing dishes – is considered a “nonconsumptive use” evapotranspiration, a cooled structure overhead must 60 degree peaked roof between two panes of thickenedas water enters in liquid form and leaves in the same be in place to promote condensation. This occurs glass. With constant flow, the roof will cool to 50 | innovative design
  • 29. degrees F. As the water reaches the juncture of ceiling consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen. When specific role to purify water. Envision water pumped and sidewall, small gutters will direct the water into plants clean soil and water, we learn the process of from a toxic river, making its way underground to cool, a single pipe. This will take place on both sides of the phytoremediation. The ability of a living system such entering a bluehouse with planted phytoremediators, greenhouse-like structure. as this to cleanse water in diverse landscapes provides such as sunflowers. As contaminants are either From here, the option arises to either direct the a unique opportunity. South Boulder Creek is much degraded or removed, pure water releases from the water down to where crops are planted or allow the cleaner than many waterways found globally, therefore sunflower’s stomatic cells and condenses on the ceiling. water to exit if saturation needs are met. After soil has applying alternate methods to combat contaminated From here the water is not returned to the river, but reached appropriate saturation levels for the growing water sources is necessary to meet water and food redirected to a secondary bluehouse where edible crop, a simple valve will redirect the excess water back demands elsewhere. crops are being grown. Depending on the magnitude of toward the creek. This can be accomplished by means For instance, bringing a polluted water source into a toxicity, severity of hazards and the diversity of toxins of overland flow to create a riparian zone or through greenhouse for crop application would suggest the ripe present in the water source, multiple bluehouses can be a conduit to ensure all remaining water returns to the red tomato in hand potentially contains the very toxins linked, each with specific plant species that can treat source as liquid. we should avoid. each contaminant. The last bluehouse receiving the Now the plants do their part. Herein lies the second daunting challenge. filtered water will be constructed for food production. Removing water from the soil, the plants pull out To overcome this hurdle, a deeper understanding Again, the notion of site specificity must be nutrients as the water flows up their stems, opening of phytoremediation unlocks potential. plants such as stressed. A water test will provide the dangers hidden stomata in their leaves to release water as vapor. The Western Wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii) have been within the water source. Turbidity, or the amount vapor rises until contacting the ceiling where it cools, found to degrade hydrocarbons. White Lupin (Lupinus of suspended solids, will drive decisions to make condenses, gains mass and slides down the inside pane albus) is known to remove arsenic and store the toxin use of sand filters. These large columns of sand, down to the wall. The same gutter installation can direct within its root structure. Indian Mustard (Brassica capable of filtering sediments, will remove soil-bound this water back to the creek. juncea), Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Hairy Golden contaminants and ensure optimal transparency for The system meets the goal of nonconsumptive use Rod (Solidago hispida) and Violets (Viola spp.) are solar penetration through the roof panes. No matter since liquid water enters and liquid water returns. capable of extracting, storing and/or degrading metals the constraints, designing with what ultimately But is there opportunity to further the system’s such as copper, nickel and zinc (Puget Sound Action become simple gestures of physics and botany can benefits? If the water source is not of irrigation quality, Team 2010). counteract the accumulation of toxins entering and can plants be chosen to adjust for various conditions? The list of species capable of cleansing our soil and exiting a bluehouse. Yes. water is continually growing and these observations What about evapotranspiration rates? How much As our understanding of natural systems becomes allow for site-specific treatment. In regard to design, “breathing” does each plant endure each growing season? explored to greater lengths, we can begin to observe imagine a linked treatment system of multiple fluid According to the Colorado Agricultural plants as living filters. From grade school we learn they structures, (or bluehouses as coined for the MLA Meteorological Network (COAGMET) “More than 99.9 studio’s final jury presentation) each engaging in a percent of the water used by an irrigated crop or turf is drawn through the roots and transpires through theROOT v2 | p28
  • 30. BELOW Sited within a dry upland prairie ecosystem adjacent to South Boulder Creek, this conceptualized bluehouse intends to achieve the goals of water purification, food production, social interaction and riparian creation.leaves. Only a small amount (0.1 percent) of the water lines and common rain barrels can be used to collect conventional methods by turning attention toward ourtaken up by plants is actually used to produce plant flowing water, irrigate crops and store the collected natural surroundings.tissue” (Puget Sound Action Team 2010). condensate respectively. Polymethyl methacrylate Reading the ladscape that we rely upon provides To investigate suggested output percentages one (Plexiglass ®) of various thickness will be pieced clues into ecosystem health and opportunities tobluehouse could produce, a hypothetical space of 15 by 20 together to construct the hollow roof and the sidewalls imitate for human experience. Exposing this knowledgefeet is used. Calculating this space of 300 sq.ft., planted of the building. Soil media will vary depending on brings others to live more consciously, connectingwith 200 stalks of Corn (Zea mays) and a water demand conditions on site. Therefore, soil testing should be the dots between human needs and environmentalof 22 inches per growing season, 9,750 gallons of water conducted to address porosity and overall media health consequence. Implementing systems like the onewill be applied and subsequently released. This equates prior to construction. described can cleanse water derived from pollutedto 53 servings of 64 ounces of drinkable water per day, This system is contingent on understanding local water sources, educate and unite communities throughper year from a space the size of an average living room. conditions. Thorough analysis is a must. However, the a visual, hands-on, transparent process and ultimatelyCopious amounts of water flow into the system and process of water treatment and food production share provide safe drinking water and food resourcesthe same amount flows out. When the growing season a simplistic approach. We are capable of expanding our simultaneously on site.terminates, the stalks dry and almost all water will beexpelled. (See supplemental chart on pages 26-27). Whether the plant species in use are slow or heavybreathers, it is known that almost all of the waterconsumed is lost through cellular respiration. Valvesthat either water the soil media or release excessback to the source offer control over input and output.Collection of condensate might be a longer process forthose plants transpiring at slower rates, but still thiswater can be collected and sent to the next system forfurther treatment and use over time. In terms of construction materials, the idea remainsto simplify. Common four-inch diameter pipes canbe used to move water from a river to the bluehouse.Solar-powered pumps can efficiently provide energyfor removing water from the river and to force water upto the roof peak. Small gutters, standard drip irrigation p29 | innovative design
  • 31. BELOW Graphic novel illustration by 2010 MLA graduate Kourtnie Harris. Part of a group entry with Stephan Hall and Amanda Jeter for the Van Alen Institute’s Manhatta 2409 Competition. The project “ELEMENTAL EXCHANGE’ proposes a future urban identity of intensified bonds between cultural + natural elements through adaptive design. The quotes are from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” For more information on this project please visit With these thoughts in mind and a hefty bucket of NOTES produce, the day’s questions become less intimidating All drawings and charts are by the author. Plafker, Ted. 16 Dec. 2005. “China, Parched and Polluted, Puts a Price to answer. Exiting the bluehouse, it is time to return on Water.” The New York Times Web. May 2010. http://www.nytimes. home. Looking skyward once more, sunlight penetrates REFERENCES com/2005/12/16/business/worldbusiness/16iht-rdevchin.html (accessed the flowing water and casts the day’s final shadows from Colorado Division of Water Resources, Office of the State Engineer. April 1, 2010). above, making the motionless plants below appear to History of Water Rights in Colorado. Denver, CO. Web. May 2010. http:// U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Aug. 2002. Water Quality sway against one another. I shake hands with friends (accessed April 1, 2010). Conditions in the United States: A Profile from the 2000 National Water outside as we begin to part ways, anxious to slice into McCutcheon. 2003. “LID Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound: Quality Inventory” Web. May 2010. today’s findings and prepare fresh summer meals. The Sampling of Plant Species Studied for Phytoremediation.” Web. May 2010 factsheet.pdf (accessed April 1, 2010). sun fades beyond the horizon and the cool night air sinks into the landscape. The once limited access to water (accessed April 1, 2010). and food becomes a thought of the past.ROOT v2 |
  • 32. Paul Lander, LEED AP, is an Instructor in the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Principal of the Dakota Ridge Partnership, specializing in urban ecology, specifically urban water systems. He has been active in conservation for 28 years, with program experience in energy, land and water conservation with the City of Boulder, City of Longmont, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District- Littleton, County of Boulder, Trust for Public Land-Seattle, State of Washington Scenic Rivers Program and Minnesota Energy Agency. Dr. Lander was the first Executive Director of the Colorado WaterWise Council, and for 16 years directed the award-winning water conservation program for the city of Boulder. He is a member of the AWWA WaterWiser editorial committee, the advisory board of Oregon’s Lane Community College Water Conservation Technician Program and the water conservation committee of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He received a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder, M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture & Planning from the University of Washington and B.A. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Photo courtesy Paul Lander. This text has been excerpted from the University of Colorado, College of Architecture and Planning’s Weekly News on November 6, 2009 announcing his lecture “Rainfall and Landscape: A Contested Commons” The lecture was conducted on Monday, November 9, before which I sat down with Lander to discuss his philosophy on landscape architecture as it relates to water conservation. - D.Goodwin beyond the oft-quoted excuse that larger environmental the ability to think abstractly, to represent possibilities and regional issues are simply “not my problem.” creatively and to consider the visual and ecological Instead, he argued, “design provides a unique set of impacts of critical decisions. It is true that landscape “[D]esign should be tools for addressing these issues that can’t be solved architects are, in many ways, artists and dreamers. But by engineers alone.” It provides the groundwork for we are also equipped with a palette of practical skills. understood as a way successful policies and education. It stimulates the Our guidance could be infinitely valuable in responsibly public’s imagination as they go about creating the future shaping the physical, environmental and aesthetic to approach problems,” of their physical and social environments. qualities of our communities. With this in mind, Lander offered three broad-scale Lander uses Australia as a case in point, where the said the energetic and recommendations on how landscape architects can existing water supply is far too low to support future change the way they think and practice: growth. Perth, for example, has a current population of passionate Paul Lander, 1.7 million that is growing by 3 percent annually; however, a Colorado landscape architect, geographer and political 1. Our visual and graphic skills can help communities the amount of water flowing into storage has dropped advocate for sustainable water practices. dream up new directions to take, new avenues to by 65 percent in the last ten years. Moreover, according Packing what seemed to be at least 100 words into pursue, which is an endeavor too often left to more to Land & Water Australia – a statutory research every minute spent with me, he insisted that landscape policy-minded planners. Even beyond G.I.S., SketchUp and development corporation within the Australian architects have to move beyond project-based thinking, and two- and three-dimensional renderings, we haveBR OA D E N I N G T H E DEFINITION OF DES IGNAn Interview with Water Expert Paul LanderDeryn Goodwin p31 | voices from the field
  • 33. Government – systemic changes in groundwater tables water does not fall on that site – or when evaporation, He went on to suggest, however, that ecological have left terrestrial ecosystems at great risk. transpiration and other natural processes are not restoration projects are only beautiful and educational Additional research is being conducted to better accounted for – more water is delivered downstream to those who understand the processes already. He understand these linkages between water allocation, than normal ecological systems could allow. As a argued that we also need interactive and engaging surface and groundwater, and water-dependent result, not only does water get apportioned unevenly designs that go further in connecting visitors to their ecosystems. However, in such dire circumstances, across a particular geography, but side effects environments – and to water - and he has seen very planners and designers must create alternative futures like flooding, erosion, sedimentation and habitat limited progress in that direction. While strategies for their communities. Among other possible solutions, destruction complicate the problem. However, like carefully zoning water use for large urban parks Lander indicated that Australia is taking a serious look collaboration among a handful of neighboring according to specific-use patterns can substantially at additional desalinization plants. There is one in landowners – and design approaches that embrace reduce water consumption, Lander would like to see Perth that supplies 20 percent of its daily water. Are stormwater originating beyond the boundaries of more design-based solutions that arouse visitors’ there other approaches to sustainable water use that a given site – could prompt incremental changes in curiosity. One of the underlying questions seemed can be coupled with the development of alternative regulations. Lander referenced an online community to be: How can landscape architects move beyond water sources? How can we as landscape architects of water conservationists that highlights some of interpretive signage as means for educating visitors design other solutions to water shortages in our own the most successful efforts of this kind. See http:// on water issues? “Design offers the groundwork for communities? for more information. policy and education,” Lander maintained, but he was mum on how specifically we as designers might go 2. If we look beyond our habitual client-focused, 3. If we were to seek out design projects for large- about achieving that end result. I suppose in some site-based approaches, we can discover more scale, high-profile civic spaces, we could effectively ways he was taunting our creative sides to come up collaborative, sustainable and cost-effective educate a broader audience than the one client with the answers. solutions to shared problems. Lander cited ways in group landscape architects typically address at a Throughout our interview, Lander stressed the which neighboring landowners can collectively adopt time. In a similar fashion, Elizabeth Meyer, a respected serious need for education and advocacy on water more cost-effective and sustainable approaches to theorist and landscape architecture professor at the issues, specifically in the arid west. In fact, leading stormwater management. Typically, a developer is University of Virginia, proposes a landscape aesthetic ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) on Water required to account for 100 percent of the rainwater that educates those who experience a site. Only then, Conservation, he insisted that landscape architects that has the potential to fall on a particular site and she asserts, only once individuals fully understand should be front and center in water advocacy efforts in to ensure that no less water reaches its respective and care about the impact they themselves have on their communities – and he sees a great need for that watershed. Such requirements are so shortsighted, the environment – only then can sustainability truly here in Colorado. As with any political issue, he noted however, that in effect, when the predicted amount of be achieved (Meyer 2008). When asked his opinion on that keeping regulatory systems up to date with shifting Meyer’s manifesto, Lander agreed with her assertion. cultural values and environmental conditions can amount to a full-time job. But in his experience as bothROOT v2 |
  • 34. “Flows” speculates on the natural alterations of landforms over time by way of geomorphic and hydrologic processes. Through experimentation with a garden hose and a sandbox model the results of dynamic upstream water conditions reveal erosive formations as evidence of the relationship of river behavior with existing geology. The work is suggestive of large-scale site potentials as channels migrate and gradually change the alluvial architecture of a landscape over time. The site explored through this drawing was a recently abandoned gravel mining pit in Longmont CO, adjacent to the Saint Vrain River. Student work by Patsy Shaffer as part of LA Design Studio 1, Fall 2009.a landscape architect and an advocate for sustainablewater policies and practices, he feels strongly thatdesign provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.To begin, he suggests checking out his newly-formedWater Conservation PPN: Thereare a number of resources there, including two bookrecommendations: Hot, Flat and Crowded by ThomasFriedman and Water Follies by Robert Glennon. Mostimportantly, he says in a letter to the PPN membership,“Whatever you do, please send us your ideas.” Landercan be reached at Goodwin, Deryn Ruth. “Interview with Water Expert Paul Lander, Ph.D.”(November 9, 2009). Land and Water Australia. “Canberra.” (accessedOctober 14, 2009). Meyer, Elizabeth. “Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance:A Manifesto in Three Parts.” Journal of Landscape Architecture (2008): 6-23. Sullivan, Michael. “Australia Turns to Desalination Amid WaterShortage.” National Public Radio. (accessed November 8, 2009). University of Colorado Denver, College of Architecture and Planning.“Weekly News.” (November 6, 2009). p33 | voices from the field
  • 35. Dressed in a high collared, shibori shirt of indigo blue, Anne Whiston Spirn sits in a small conference room of UCD’s Landscape Architecture share all that she has experienced. We soon learn that career based on her love of art, nature and people. She she has spent the last few days touring the dryland has used her time in practice and academia to inform a Department. farming fields of Kit Carson County and meeting with lifetime of research, resulting in a celebrated collection The noted writer and scholar has come to address Colorado water managers, as well as the engineering of articles, books and planning projects. Her first book, students and faculty about her insightful work, The firm involved with Denver’s Commons Park, Wright The Granite Garden: Urban Design and Human Nature Language of Landscape (Yale University Press 1998) Water Engineering. Spirn reminds us of the migration (Basic Books 1984), earned the American Society of and to discuss her most recent publication, Daring to of people from Colorado to the Northwest during the Landscape Architects’ President’s Award. Articles Look: Dorothea Lange’s Photographs and Reports Dust Bowl where large-scale federal irrigation projects such as “Vacant Land: A Resource for Reshaping Urban from the Field (University of Chicago Press 2008). promised a future of productive farming. Neighborhoods” (1991) and “The Poetics of City and Spirn’s demeanor is reserved, yet eager to engage and An accomplished author, professor, photographer Nature” (1988) have further developed a nature-based and landscape architect, Spirn has developed a rich urban design approach, fusing ecology and landscape with an intimate understanding of people and theirAN N E W H I STO N S PIRN communities. Spirn’s clear and poetic writing styleReflections on the Social Conscience of Landscape ArchitecturePatsy ShafferROOT v2 |
  • 36. OPPOSITE TOP House and Grove. Near Ault, Colorado. March 1989. From Spirn’s forthcoming book, The Eye Is a Door: Photography and the Art of Visual Thinking. BELOW LEFT Daring to Look (University of Chicago Press, 2008) won the 2009 Great Place Book Award from by the Environmental Design Research Association and the 2009 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies. BELOW RIGHT Prior to lecturing at UC-Denver, Spirn spent three days in the field with Ken Wright of Wright Water Engineering and water lawyer Ruth Wright to learn about Colorado water law and practice. Among the experts with whom they met was George Varra, District 3 Water Commissioner, seen here with Spirn in the Cache La Poudre watershed. Photo by Ken Wright.speaks of landscape aesthetics, social conscience and Gallery in British Columbia, Canada (2005), Vassar What I haven’t expected from meeting Spirn is thelong-term thinking in a way that promotes landscape College in Poughkeepsie, NY (2000, 2004) and Harvard pure storytelling quality of her presentation. Her gift ofarchitecture as an integrated planning movement. University’s Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, capturing the essence about people through their wordsWeaved through the many mediums of Spirn’s work, MA (2006-2007). Her color images primarily focus on gives us the ability to remember them too, without everfrom writing and research to photography and teaching, capturing the pairing of natural processes with traces having met them. Daring to Look also paints a pictureare telling landscapes that are inspired creations of of human life without utilizing people as subject. Spirn of the individuals who manage the reservoirs andboth natural and human collaborations. explains, T h r o u g h photography, I try to discover irrigation ditches of today, like Allen Brown, ditch rider Photography has long been a t o o l of discoveryi what is there, hidden and real, to understand for the Owyhee Irrigation District in eastern Oregon.for Spirn’s research and visual exploration, why and how things come about and to imagine She details for us her conversation with Brown and hissupplementing conceptual drawing and the vivid what they might become. I want to inspire family’s resilience, “It takes three generations to makepoetic language of her writings. Through the camera’s others to see the extraordinary in the everyday, a go of it...” he said. “I’m standing on two generations’lens, she discovers new and changing relationships to pause and look deeply at the surface of shoulders” (Spirn 2008, 288).within landscapes and between people and their things, and also beyond that surface to the Later that evening, Spirn addressed a standing roomenvironments. Spirn’s work has been exhibited on stories landscapes tell (Spirn & White 2003). only crowd of students and faculty of UCD’s Collegenumerous occasions, including at the Kamloops Spirn’s most recent publication, Daring to Look, of Architecture and Planning. She read for an hour documents the life-struggle and vigilance of Dust Bowl from The Language of Landscape, a text now included refugees in the rural landscapes of Oregon, Washington as required reading in many graduate landscape and California, as well as North Carolina. She architecture programs: retraces the steps of photographer Dorothea Lange’s Landscape is loud with dialogues, with story prolific 1939 documentation of the Farm Security lines that connect a place and its dwellers. Administration’s programs as part of the New Deal. The The shape and structure of a tree record an book is a collection of Lange’s photographs and field notes, accompanied by Spirn’s essays and contemporary photographs of some of the same landscapes. The title is inspired by a comment Lange made later in her career: “No country has ever closely scrutinized itself visually. … I know what we could make of it if people only thought we could dare look at ourselves.” Like Lange, Spirn’s journey through these forlorn landscapes that were the source of hope and heartbreak for a displaced population, is one of discovery and visual thinking through photography. p35 | voices from the field
  • 37. evolutionary dialogue between species and environment: eucalypt trees turn their edge to bright sun, deciduous leaves that fall off during seasonal heat or cold. Each species has a characteristic form from which individuals deviate, as true of human body shape as of trees. A coherence of human vernacular landscapes emerges from dialogues between builders and place, fine-tuned over time. They tell of a congruence between snowfall and roof pitch, between seasonal sun angles and roof overhang, wind direction and hedgerows, cultivation practices and dimensions of fields, family structure and patterns of always inserting a human role within that context (NPR heavy construction that have dominated our approach settlement. Dialogues make up the context of 2008). Her hopeful attitudes about our relationship to public works, it is possible to work within nature in individual, group, and place. The context of life with the environment have been a force for viewing urban areas to enhance human life” (Bender 1984). While is a woven fabric of dialogues, enduring and humanity and nature as inseparable. this approach is common practice today, many cities are ephemeral. Spirn’s first book, The Granite Garden, uncovered still bandaging the infrastructure design problems of Her voice, firm, her writing, a how-to narrative the workings of nature in the city and shed light on the 19th century. disguised in rhythmic verse. With each line and projected how this information may be used to create a more photograph, Spirn describes to the audience an holistic, integrated approach to city building. Prior to Action and Reflection interpretation of the landscape that begins with the roots this research, little had been done to analyze the vast Born in 1947, Spirn grew up among the deciduous of a tree and bridges a connection to the West Philadelphia amounts of information relating urban infrastructure forests of northwestern Connecticut, eastern Landscape Project that became her touchstone, in the problems to planning practices that ignored the natural Massachusetts and suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. She underserved neighborhoods of West Philadelphia’s forces of local ecology. After the book’s initial release, credits her father as being a prominent mentor, admiring Mill Creek. She speaks of a visual literacy of landscape Richard Bender, then Dean of UC Berkeley’s College his ability to synthesize material from all of the five that is as essential to informed design as it is to a child’s of Environmental Design wrote in a NY Times Book different disciplines in which he has degrees. Spirn understanding of the streets where they live. Review how Spirn “shows us that urban life can be set describes this influence: It never occurred to me Through Spirn’s work we understand the artful in a garden. Spirn demonstrates that the tools and that you couldn’t cross boundaries. I thought skill of precise communication about landscape. Spirn techniques that are available to us now are much more you could always change your field at any point points out to us the connotations that are attached powerful than those that formed the basis of the 19th- in your life (Spirn 2003). This view would serve her to certain words and how they assume values that century’s explosion of public works. By recognizing well in her career, allowing her to knit an art background influence attitudes about nature. She chooses to use that the best of these new tools may be the ‘soft’ with science, research and social service. the word “landscape” in place of “nature” as a way of techniques of ecology, rather than the hardware andROOT v2 |
  • 38. LEFT The Mill Creek Sewer under construction at 47th and Haverford, 1883. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Water Department Historical Collection. After earning an undergraduate degree in art McHarg’s groundbreaking work utilized natural processes subsidence and, ultimately, to vacant lands alonghistory from Harvard while pursuing her own drawing as a foundation for the design of new communities, Spirn the line of the sewer on the buried floodplain. Theand photography, Spirn changed her course of study to asked herself, W h y can’t we apply these ecological city’s poor planning and neglect in addressing thislandscape architecture. As a graduate student at the principles to the city as well? problem, along with economic disinvestment, ledUniversity of Pennsylvania, she encountered Department The Granite Garden became the fruit of the research to an increasingly racially segregated, low-incomeChair Ian McHarg’s book Design with Nature that formulated to answer this question. At the time, community. By 1990, the formerly racially integrateddescribed a field of study bridging art with science and Spirn was also mindful of her fellow students’ career neighborhood was primarily African-American,utilizing ecology as a foundation for the planning of new paths. She witnessed many of them spending years and the area became a patchwork of vacant lots.development. Spirn was hooked. struggling to establish their own firms by taking Sulzberger Middle School is on the buried floodplain The social justice movement of the 1970s was a commissions for design they did not want to be and, by 1990, was surrounded by vacant lots.force that shaped Spirn’s views of the environment: doing, like designing parking lots and bollards. Today the rain has ended in Philly but the heavy greyPrior to the environmental justice movement, Spirn opted to follow in McHarg’s footsteps instead. By clouds and oppressive humidity remain as the soundenvironment was something for everyone…it was writing The Granite Garden with the general public as of rushing water resonates from the sewers. The noisea h e a l t h a n d s a f e t y i s s u e , she explained. Both Boston the audience, she was able to communicate her design might be louder if some of that water wasn’t beingand Philadelphia suffered from similar infrastructure ideas to potential clients. While the opportunities detained by one of Philadelphia’s newest stormwaterissues; combined sewer and stormwater systems for work flooded in, a path of a c t i o n and reflection strategies, the watershed garden. These earthproduced hazardous and polluted living environments awaited. Spirn opted to pursue a career of research and depressions have been dug out at low points withinafter severe rain events. Nineteenth century city teaching at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania community gardens and vacant lots. Such strategiesbuilding buried streams and their floodplains below (Spirn 2010). support wetland plantings such as sedges, cattails andimpervious surfaces, ignoring the natural processes that ferns while reducing the volume of water that reachesexisted in the landscape. Over the course of a century, The Family of the the storm sewer.the low-lying neighborhoods began to crumble, both West Philadelphia Landscape Project As Chair of the Landscape Architectureliterally and figuratively. House vacancies rose while the In 1987, Spirn launched an integrated planning Department at the University of Pennsylvania (1986-unsustainable infrastructure and building foundations effort of research, teaching and community 2000), Spirn applied her research to the Mill Creeksank (Bennett 2000, 69). Spirn’s thesis question became: service in the West Philadelphia Landscape Project Neighborhood, correlating the vacant urban lotsHow do you integrate environmental restoration (WPLP). This project incorporated the University of of West Philadelphia with buried floodplains. Thiswith an economically distressed community? Pennsylvania’s new desire to focus on the greening research was applied to studios where students were Spirn completed her Masters Degree in 1974 and spent of West Philadelphia with safety and ecological able to develop a database of spatial informationfive years with McHarg’s firm Wallace, McHarg, Roberts concerns for the Mill Creek watershed. Since the about the neighborhood that would later informand Todd (WMRT), primarily working on projects that she late 1800s, the brick-encased Mill Creek sewer would design alternatives for stormwater management.describes somewhat dismissively as e c o l o g i c a l l y well- overflow into the Schuylkill River during heavy rain Through these efforts, the project has grown todesigned resort communities and new towns. While events, causing a health and safety dilemma. Homes become an archetype for the ecological renovation were built on the buried floodplain, which led to of spaces on vacant lands as a means of regenerating urban neighborhoods and promoting community p37 | voices from the field
  • 39. development. The venture eventually led to new Best of the West Philadelphia Landscape Project from the i n o n e ’ s n e i g h b o r h o o d . To f e e l b o t h a t h o m e i n a Management Practices for stormwater infrastructure point of view of the people involved in the project, place and ashamed of it is harmful. It saps self- on city redevelopment projects. Over the last 23 including herself, Hayward Ford (president of Aspen esteem and can engender a sense of guilt and years, the project has expanded exponentially, Farms Community Garden) and one of her University of resignation. Without an understanding of how involving over 500 people, including Sulzberger Middle Pennsylvania students, John Widrick, whose design for the neighborhood came to be, many believed that School teachers, community members, University Aspen Farms was chosen for construction. She speaks the poor conditions were the fault of those who of Pennsylvania students, Aspen Farms Community of the time dedicated to the project by each individual lived there, a product of either incompetence Garden organizers and the City of Philadelphia Water as experiential memories that were about more than or lack of care. Once they had the skill to read Department. The most recent success of the project building a garden—these memories are about building the landscape’s history, they began to see occurred in 2009 when the City of Philadelphia relationships with the people involved and the success their home in a more positive light and came to developed a citywide “green infrastructure” program of the project as a result of those fruitful interactions. appreciate the effort and vision that places like designed to reduce the combined stormwater and I’m not an armchair theorist…for me, ideas Aspen Farms represent (Spirn 2005, 413). sewer overflows. While still being reviewed by the come out of the act of observing and engaging, While Spirn continues to direct the WPLP, she Environmental Protection Agency, the project is a $1.6 not just through reading or abstract thinking. speaks of how difficult it was to leave the day-to-day billion endeavor over the span of 20 years, estimating a The West Philadelphia Landscape Project operations of the project after deciding to move to reduction in stormwater runoff by 80 percent through w a s m y l a b f o r ‘ T h e L a n g u a g e o f L a n d s c a p e .’ Boston to teach at MIT: The West Philadelphia the use of rain gardens, porous pavement, green roofs I wanted all people to be able to understand Landscape Project became very personal, and additional tree plantings (Markham 2010). t h e i r e n v i r o n m e n t , n o t j u s t d e s i g n e r s (Spirn 2010). Spirn says. Her father, an economist, incorporated H a v e y o u s e e n ‘ Yo u J u s t D o n ’ t L e a v e F a m i l y ’ Spirn pursued this goal through the cooperative mathematics into the curriculum. He helped the …on my website? Spirn asks. She is referring to a development of programs with Mill Creek’s Sulzberger students of Sulzberger Middle School write a business six-minute digital film on her site which tells the story Middle School. Curricula included urban watersheds, local history and social studies, math and economics. By teaching children how to read their own landscapes, Spirn was able to inform parents of local health and safety concerns. The children soon became adept at understanding the hazards of having cracked and sinking foundations and envisioning solutions. Te n y e a r s a g o , I t h o u g h t t h a t t h e w o r s t effect of landscape illiteracy was to produce environmental injustice in the form of physical hazards to health and safety. There is an even greater injustice than inequitable exposure to harsh conditions: the internalization of shameROOT v2 |
  • 40. OPPOSITE LEFT The West Philadelphia Landscape Project Web site, which launched in winter 1996, is a forum for research, teaching, and community development and an archive of the WPLP database, reports, teaching materials, student work and news stories. Both images from BELOW The redesign and reconstruction of Aspen Farm Community Garden in 1988-89 was a collaboration between the gardeners, students and faculty from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning,plan for a miniature golf course to raise income for the skills (Spirn 2010). ephemeral ones, and to imagine how to join theneighborhood. And her son, Sam, worked as a research To p l a n p r u d e n t l y i s t o t r a n s f o r m p r o b l e m s conversation. Like literacy, urban planning andassistant and webmaster for the project site, teaching into opportunities and liabilities into resources, design are cultural practices that can servethe kids web authoring. T h e p r o j e c t , Spirn says, w a s a n d t o i n t e r v e n e a t a n a p p r o p r i a t e s c a l e . To either to perpetuate the inequities of existingmore than just research (Spirn 2010). design wisely is to read ongoing dialogues in social structures or to enable and promoteOn the Future of Landscape Architecture a place, to distinguish enduring stories from democratic change (Spirn 2005, 413). It is Spirn’s stories about the people she has workedwith over the years that provide us with a telling impact NOTESof her work. The larger lesson is the underlying ethics Editor’s note: All quotations by Ann Whiston Spirn are italicized. Spirn, Anne Whiston with Robert Cheetham. The West Philadelphiaof a life spent investigating and reflecting on the value REFERENCES Digital Database: An Atlas and Guide. Graduate School of Fine Arts,of human design for the enhanced understanding of Bennett, Paul. “Landscape Organism: The West Philadelphia Landscape University of Pennsylvania, 1996. Spirn offers no predictions for the field of Project. “ Landscape Architecture Magazine 90 (2000): 66-71, 82. newfront/book/pdf/phil_digi_data.pdf (accessed April 24, 2010).landscape architecture but offers up a compelling view Bender, Richard. “Making the Metropolis Green.” The New York Times Spirn, Anne Whiston. The Language of Landscape. New Haven. Yaleof what the field has the potential to become: Book Review. January 22, 1984. University Press, 1998. The strength of landscape architecture is Leach, Susan Lewelyn. “A Look at Landscape Puzzles.” Christian Spirn, Anne Whiston. “Restoring Mill Creek: Landscape Literacy,that we bridge design and planning… We are Science Monitor , Environmental Justice and City Planning and Design.” Landscapethe profession that acts in the world, in the html (accesssed June 8, 2006). Research 30 no. 3 (July 2005),, and that also has grounding in both Markham, Derek, “Philadelphia’s Stormwater System Overhaul.” http:// newfront/2005/SpirnMillCreek2005.pdfnatural and cultural processes…the world is Spirn, Anne Whiston. Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange’s Photographsin desperate need of professionals with these 16-billion-storm-water-infrastructure-overhaul/ (accessed May 14, 2010). and Reports from the Field. Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 2008. NPR Interview with Anne Spirn. “All Things Considered: Daring to Look: Spirn, Anne Whiston. “Anne Whiston Sprin.” www.annewhistonspirn. Dorothea Lange’s Photographs and Reports from the Field.” June 30, com (accessed April 2, 2010). 2008. Spirn, Anne Whiston with Laura Muthler White. “Tensions of Change: Platt, Harold L. “Book Review: The Granite Garden.” Technology and A Conversation with Anne Whiston Spirn.” Culture 27. (1986): 332-334. (accessed April 12, 2010). Shaffer, Patsy and William Rawlings. “Interview with Anne Whiston Spirn, Anne Whiston. “Daring To Look: Dorthea Lange’s Phtographs & Sprin.” (April 19, 2010). Reports from the Field.” (accessed April 14, 2010). Spirn, Anne Whiston. The Granite Garden. New York. Basic Books, 1984. West Philadelphia Landscape Project. Spirn, Anne Whiston with Daniel Marcucci. Models of Success: www/wplp/index.html (accessed May 20, 2010). Landscape Improvement and Community Development. A Publication Zaltzberg, Keith. Profile: The West Philadelphia Landscape Project. of the West Philadelphia Landscape Plan. Graduate School of Fine Arts, Green Urbanism and Ecological Infrastructure University of Pennsylvania, 1991. greenurb/2006/kzaltzberg/index.html (accessed May 6, 2010). p39 | voices from the field
  • 41. LEFT An angel with a broken arm and rust-stained cheek adorns the top of Richard Whitsitt’s grave marker. Whitsitt (b. 1830, d. 1881) was a director of the Colorado City Town Company, which founded Denver City on August 12, 1859. Photo by Bryan Ganno March 2010. BELOW Locator map of Riverside Cemetery There is little sound downtown and nestled between East Brighton Boulevard and the South Platte River, is an alien save for the magpie’s space among the otherwise industrial stretch. Dating back to 1876, it houses over 67,000 former song. It echoes softly citizens, is Denver’s oldest operating cemetery and in 1994 was designated a National Historic District. as the bird who sings This landmark, once known for its lush park-like design as much as its pioneer inhabitants, has been it perches atop a dead in a rapid state of decay for many years. Each passing year sees more tree stumps, less ground stump – a prominent cover and a continually approaching dusty haze in the distance. But how can this trend of decline end remnant of a once and a culturally significant landscape be returned to former glories without access to the one thing mature Elm that that made it flourish? In 1981 Riverside Cemetery lost its free water thrived in its place and rights, which dated back to 1879. A state employee identified a paperwork discrepancy which revealed stretched more than legal water rights belonged to local florist and nursery 60 feet overhead. It is but one of many such blemishes that pepper Riverside Cemetery’s expanse – a sea of ornate tombstones cast out among dead and dying foliage. Riverside Cemetery, a 77- acre span located two miles north of Denver’sRIV E R S I D E C E M E TERYThe Death (& Revival) of Historic PlaceBryan GannoROOT v2 |
  • 42. RIGHT Harvey Lowrie’s plan view of original Riverside design. Image courtesy of US Department of Interior Nationl Park Service. BELOW The Burlington & Colorado Railroad tracks are the first to greet Riverside’s visitors prior to entering the cemetery, while the backdrop is encompassed by three refinery smokestacks. Photo by Bryan Ganno March 2010.owner Marion Elliott, his cousins and a woman who further and allow for consumption to be focused onowned adjacent farm land (Student 2007, 24). Appeals specific areas, not saturated across all 77 acres. Testreaching the Colorado Supreme Court were upheld, plots have been in motion since summer 2008, andand Riverside then began a yearly contract with Denver these native grass and wildflower mixes may provide aWater Company. This lasted until 2003 when Fairmount glimpse into Riverside’s future.iCemetery Company – which purchased Riverside in However, the test plots’ current conditions are1900 – stated it could no longer afford the monthly weak. The grasses are sparse and the weeds are plenty.dues, which topped $1,500. Shortly thereafter, the It is not possible to expect native plants to outgrowwater was turned off. invasive weeds. Compared to native species, weeds To turn it back on would be costly. In addition, are heartier, faster growing and spread like brushRiverside Cemetery’s irrigation system was stolen fire. To establish prominence across the landscape, a In addition to a myriad of plantings, the city mayaround 2002, and the cemetery lacks a water hookup strategic, costly maintenance plan would need to be need to eventually step in. But there are issues with(Kass 2009). A 2009 Denver Magazine article titled implemented. And, native plants, at least in a swath this this approach as well. Economic times are less than“The Cemetery is Dying” stated that “a one-time ‘tap large, would require watering and massive amounts of booming, and it’s a nearly impossible sell to increasefee’ to buy into Denver Water for lower-priced, recycled weed plucking for the first three to five years to have resident’s taxes for a place many don’t know exists.water could cost a little over $450,000. Denver Water a chance at full establishment. There is no doubt a Also, Riverside straddles two counties – Denver andthen estimates it would take 20 million gallons to water naturalistic prairie setting is in Riverside’s future, but Adams. Neither seems to be jumping at the opportunity77 acres of less-thirsty native plants [an option to creating it is a lot more difficult and expensive than to take over. The red tape involved in procuring a weedredesign the existing landscape]. The yearly bill would people may realize – even with donated seed. Other whacker is typically thicker than a brick wall whenalmost reach $18,000...” Riverside’s water needs are options do exist. dealing with multiple city jurisdictions.similar to a moderately sized subdivision or a nine-hole,par-three golf course. To counteract the fact there is no money to payfor water coupled with an average annual rainfall ofabout 15.4 inches, which could barely fill a Kool-Aid jug,it seems a multitude of creative responses workingin concert would provide the greatest potential tosucceed. Fairmount Cemetery Company has begunwork on an answer. Native plantings – low on water useand evolved to the high-altitude grasslands ecosystemof the eastern slope – will extend water capacities p41 | place over time
  • 43. LEFT Denver’s downtown skyline, which is 2 miles south of Riverside Cemetery, can be seen in the background - past the tombstones, weeds and trees. BELOW Remnant tree stumps are abundant throughout the cemetery. Photos by Bryan Ganno June 2010. only the interred individuals but also the ecologies Downtown has reconfigured the blighted space it present. Riverside needs greater visibility and had become. Such an undertaking requires time, and introducing future leaders to it has merit. Could this Riverside is somewhat of an afterthought in the grand garner money in some fashion? Potentially. scheme. Potential outcomes listed in the plan are The green burial movement is another option, “desirable recreation facilities, [a] botanic garden, [or which places emphasis on maintaining a natural a] history museum.” Interestingly, the Denver Botanic environment. It seeks to curb costs and maximize Gardens themselves were once a cemetery. space and profits by utilizing eco-friendly burials, Riverside Cemetery, plotted by landscape designer void of embalming and metal or hardwood caskets. and civil engineer Harvey Lowrie, was not always that They are also devoid of elaborate tombstones, the way. Yes, prior to its inception, Riverside was likely It is not out of the question to turn Riverside into notion of which seems adverse to the cemetery’s a sprawling golden prairie, devoid of bluegrass and something akin to a museum, which would garner state original principles. But they require little money and towering trees. It was, however, shaped into a grassy funds. This has been done in the past – Civil War battle no additional upkeep. This would once again give expanse with shaded comfort among meandering sites are among them. people the choice to be buried at Riverside and could carriage routes. Riverside’s founders, among them Dr. Tying Riverside into the South Platte River trail potentially boost the endowment enough to turn John H. Morrison, realized the cemetery had potential could potentially have value as well. Hugh Graham, the water back on in a minimized capacity (McGhee beyond traditional interment; they saw value in the living president of the non-profit Friends of Historic Riverside 2008). There are currently 14 cemeteries in the U.S. as an active participant of the place.ii After all, history Cemetery, discussed a natural history and educational utilizing this burial approach, according to the Centre stretches vast distances on a single breath. To invite component the cemetery could utilize as well as for Natural Burials. Prairie Wilderness Cemetery, leisure into a space typically devoted to grief and the potential to establish a working precedence for a burgeoning green burial ground in Denver (which remembrance can only breed understanding and similarly plagued landscapes. He said, “Riverside has is still seeking space) would be the first Colorado the opportunity to serve as a touchstone or sounding cemetery to embrace the practices. Their board for these types of landscapes.” History is rich at mission seeks “to establish a low cost, low impact Riverside and its proximity could also be advantageous. cemetery with natural landscaping and restore a A boardwalk meandering from a re-envisioned Riverside prairie wilderness ecosystem” (Prairie Wilderness as a native prairie down through a riparian ecosystem Cemeteries). and meeting the South Platte River and corresponding Currently, a massive project along the South trail system is ripe with ecological intricacies that could Platte River is underway. It is called the River be exposed to the passersby. Placards detailing the North Greenway Master Plan, which stretches wildlife and habitat have educational value. At the least, from Prospect neighborhood adjacent Coors Field elementary through high school classes could make to Riverside’s northern edge. The plan calls to Riverside a field trip destination to learn about not resuscitate the area in much the same way LowerROOT v2 |
  • 44. RIGHT As the Burlington and Colorado Railroad extends along Riverside’s eastern boundary, the horizon to the north morphs into a second set of refineries. Photo by Bryan Ganno March 2010.knowledge. Those who live on will inevitably read barley fields of the mid-1800s, the Riverside Cemetery borders, 450 graves with flowers planted around them,about those who came before, and this intersecting Association covered the grounds in bluegrass and and 142 iron, terra-cotta, or rustic wood vases containingrelationship has provided Riverside with a cultural white lawn clover (U.S. Environmental Protection flowers”), mostly water hogs, were also fed by a 540 footimportance throughout history and into modern times. Agency). Two on-site nurseries grew about 3,500 trees, artesian well that supplied 418,000 gallons of waterFathers, mothers, sons and daughters shaped this city a multitude of shrubs, vibrant flowers and climbing every 24 hours (Student 2006, 25-26). That’s roughlyand state; aren’t they worth knowing about? vegetation to be transplanted to the grounds or sold to two-thirds of the water volume in an Olympic-sized These days though, Riverside is a solitary patrons (Student 2006, 25). According to a March 29, swimming pool. However, this water reliance at the timeexperience. Few frequent the place. Immediate views 1879 Rocky Mountain News article, a 16,000 gallon tank was not a concern. The cemetery was sited specificallydisplay sandstone and granite molded into crosses, was emptied twice a day during summer to irrigate the with regard for its proximity – less than 300 feet – to theanchors, harps, scrolls and angels, which are awash outdoor grounds. The plants, grounds and greenhouses South Platte River. To fulfill watering needs, Riversidewith names such as Evans, Elbert, Morrison, Drake and (including “70 flower beds, about 500 feet of flower Cemetery Association sunk wells into the river bottomZang. The first two have 14,000 foot Colorado peaks iiinamed after them. Pioneers, politicians, war heroesas well as an untold number of unknown masses are allsubterranean residents.iv There are over 67,000 storiesat Riverside Cemetery. Few landscapes can reach thosebounds. The names depict a story, and the tombstonessuggest a love left behind. One such tombstone – thatof Marion G. White, who was born in 1857 and died in1907 – summarizes simply what so many feel after aloved one has passed. “Love is a short word that says sovery much.” City Councilwoman Judy Montero, who presidesover District 9 (encompassing Denver County’s portionof Riverside), believes in the cemetery’s significance.When asked about the importance of saving thecemetery, she said, “The art alone is one huge reason topreserve this lovely, historic area. However, the primaryreason is to respect the families who have loved oneslaid to rest there.” To achieve its distinct appearance adjacent ariparian zone and among the winter wheat, corn and p43 | place over time
  • 45. additional funding, the water can never be turned back on and the above ground residents, anchored to shriveling roots, will continue to decay at a much faster clip than their subsurface counterparts. It must be stated though that Fairmount Cemetery Company is a business. According to a 2009 Denver Magazine article, “[Kelly] Briggs [president of Fairmount Cemetery Company] expects Riverside to lose more than $100,000 this year with the Fairmount company making up the difference” (Kass 2009). This difference is primarily made up through burials at Fairmount Cemetery, which currently range from $5,733.68 for “simplicity” single burial packages to $11,803.84 for “prestige” single plots (Fairmount Cemetery). An unfortunate fact of business is that profitable ventures endure while those that lose do not. and conveyed the grounds’ lifeblood through 2,000 feet crowded in around it during the first half of the 1900s and However, cemeteries are emotional landscapes. of pipe utilizing steam-powered pumps. by the 1950s was commonly used as storage for bodies Fairmount Cemetery is maintained in this vein. Its Even with access to water over the subsequent 100 awaiting autopsy (Student 2007, 26). Industry blanketed website describes the surroundings as such. It states, years, Riverside was not free of problems. Four years after Riverside and left a ravaged, grime-slicked remnant in its “The peaceful, well maintained 280 acres offer families Riverside’s inception, in 1890, the 280-acre Fairmount wake, but it was not the only factor to play into Riverside’s of any religion or walks of life a dignified surrounding in Cemetery, located at the modern intersection of Alameda decline. In the 1970s, Elm beetle infestation required v which to honor the lives of loved ones.” Cemeteries deal Avenue and Quebec Street, opened its doors. Within one extensive removal of trees at Riverside (Student 2007, 26). in memory, in life and in death. This fact alone beckons year, the number of interments declined from 2,169 in 1890 Today Riverside exists on a $2.1 million endowment. involvement and response from community members to 1,259 in 1891 (Student 2007, 26). This decline was partly This provides for about $62,000 per year, which covers and politicians alike. attributed to the new cemetery and partly attributed to two caretakers’ annual pay and minimal upkeep. Plots In 2007, the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery the difficulty in crossing the Burlington & Colorado railroad are no longer for sale, although open land still exists. (FHRC) was founded in response to the dust choked tracks which spurred the construction of slaughterhouses, The last burial site was sold in 2005, but people who weeds and the lifeless trees that had long ago stopped smelters and other industry (Student 2007, 26-27). These own plots can still choose Riverside as their final resting stretching toward the sun. A non-profit, volunteer group compounded facts seem to have been the impetus for place. Whereas decline by locale association and natural of roughly 75 community members and presided over Riverside’s merger with Fairmount. Riverside became selection took their toll in years past, today Riverside by Graham, a local designer, the FHRC is dedicated to a by-product of the industrial wasteland that feverishly continues to perish for a different reason. Without “increasing awareness and promoting preservation ofROOT v2 |
  • 46. OPPOSITE LEFT and RIGHT Colorado native grass and wildflower test plots exist throughout the cemetery. The photos to the right depict a few of the marked test plots. Most, however, are overrun by weeds and are often surrounded by cracked dry earth. Photos by Bryan Ganno June 2010.Denver’s oldest cemetery.” Organized solely to ensure Riverside Cemetery may never again own a lush C o m p l e t e L i s t o f Te s t P l o t s :Riverside’s continued existence, the group is conducting bluegrass skin, but its landscape will once again thrive. Planted Summer 2009research to support a long-term vision called Riverside People will continue to visit and be affected by the Riverside Custom Flower Mix2020 (findings are not yet available). In addition, place. And they may one day soon stand among golden Hairy false goldenaster, Bigelow’s tansyaster, Rockycommon duties include maintenance and prioritizing grasses and native wildflowers as the magpie’s song mountain beeplant, Purple prairie clover, Upright prairiemonuments for restoration. But Graham knows the drifts along the breeze. Landscapes such as Riverside coneflower, Stiff goldenrod, Hairy clematis, Westernincreasingly difficult battle the cemetery faces, which should never die. As with memories, they are too wallflower, Tanseyleaf tansyasterhas been exacerbated by the urban environment’s important to lose. Experimental Native Grass Mixcrushing grip upon it. Buffalograss, Blue grama, Green needlegrass, Indian Of its position in space, Graham says “Riverside ricegrass, Saltgrassis on the other side of the tracks in the wrong side of Native Wonder Mixtown.” With regard to the tracks, this literally is the case: Buffalograss, Blue grama“The Burlington and Colorado Railroad was granted NOTES Sharp’s Sandy Soil Pasture Mixright-of-way access across the southeast corner of the See adjacent sidebar for specific plants. Donors include: i Arizona fescue, Sideoats grama, Western wheatgrass,cemetery grounds in December 1881” (Student 2006, Beauty Beyond Belief, Pawnee Buttes Seed, Arkansas Valley Seed Switchgrass, Little bluestem, Annual ryegrass, Yellow25). Sandwiched between East Brighton Blvd. and the Solutions, Sharp Brothers Seed, Western Native Seed Company, Chem Indiangrass, Blue grama, Big bluestem, Prairie sandreedcemetery and raised ten feet above the former and Way John Deere Landscapes, and Alpha One, Inc. Riverside Native Wildflower Mix15 feet above the latter, the broad mound halts views ii Morrison aided in establishing Colorado Seminary (now Shell leaf penstemon, Blue flax, Prairie coneflower,in but becomes the only view out, at least toward the University of Denver). On April 1, 1876 Morrison sold his sprawling 160- Leadplant, Chainpod, Prairie larkspur, Silky golden aster,east. As Riverside was modeled after Massachusetts’ acre ranch to Riverside Cemetery Association, and two months later, Tansy aster, Stemless evening primrose, Dotted gayfeather,Mount Auburn Cemetery to be experienced as a park, on June 1, Henry Walton became the redefined space’s first permanent Wand beardtongue, White prairie clover, Purple prairie clover,its new, prominent shoulder – grown five years after its resident. Morrison has the distinction of being the fifth resident. Black footed daisy, Green thread leafown formation – hardly befits its idyll of sun-washed iii Lester Drake was a founder of Black Hawk, CO, and his Custom Colorado Native Grass Mixbluegrasses and statuesque shade trees. grave marker is one of the most distinct at Riverside. A miniaturized, Blue grama, Sideoats grama, Little bluestem, Sanddrop seed, Extending outward from the cemetery’s interior, five-foot tall sandstone replica, it is supposedly an exact match to his Buffalograss, Green needlegrass, Indian ricegrass, Sheepin addition to the train tracks, gazes are greeted by Black Hawk cabin – complete with a shovel and pick axe, which rest at an fescue, Wild ryegrass, Slender wheatgrass, Perennial rye,smokestacks and decrepit chain link fences twisting angle against the building’s front edge. Philip Zang, one of the largest Western wheatgrassover on themselves. With the exception of the South stockholders of Vindicator Gold Mining Company in Cripple Creek, CO, W e s t e r n Tr a i l s N a t i v e G r a s s S e e d M i xPlatte River and its floodplain, industry engulfs was a brewer by trade. He owned Philip Zang & Company (formerly John Blue grama, Little bluestem, Indian ricegrass, Sideoats grama,Riverside, itself a precursor to any of the current Good’s Rocky Mountain Brewery – Denver’s first established brewery), Galleta, Alkali sacaton, Western wheatgrass, Sand dropseed,incorporated surroundings. In an ironic sense, the very and the grounds are still accessible today. However, they now house Buffalograss, Sheep fescue, Green needlegrass,thing that has maligned Riverside over the years has Elitch’s Six Flags and the Denver Children’s Museum. Perennial rye grassbeen the thing that gave rise to it – its location.   p45 | place over time
  • 47. A dying tree stands branchless as a train rolls by. Photo by Bryan Ganno June 2010. iv Nearly 25 percent of those buried at Riverside were Hutchinson, Julie. “Seeking a Lifeline for Historic Cemetery.” Rocky considered “welfare cases” because they were too poor to afford Mountain News, February 7, 2009, Local News section. traditional burials. Riverside accepted these individuals over the years Kass, Jeff. “The Cemetery is Dying.” Denver Magazine, September 24, but did not catalog them or provide descriptive headstones. See Annette 2009. Student, Denver’s Riverside Cemetery: Where History Lies (San Diego: McGhee, Tom. “Some Cemeteries Dig Green Burials.” The Denver Post, CSN Books, 2006), 27. August 26, 2008, Denver and the West section. v Annette Student, Denver’s Riverside Cemetery: Where Prairie Wilderness Cemeteries. http://www. History Lies (San Diego: CSN Books, 2006), 30-32. (quoting an article by (accessed May 11, 2010). Olga Curtis, which was published in Denver Post Empire Magazine on Smiley, Jerome. History of Denver. Denver: Old Americana Publishing November 22, 1970). Company, 1901 (reprinted 1971). Student, Annette. Denver’s Riverside Cemetery: Where History Lies. San Diego: CSN Books, 2006. REFERENCES The Centre for Natural Burial. “Natural Burial in the U.S.A.” The Centre City and County of Denver. “The River North Greenway Master Plan.” for Natural Burial. City and County of Denver. (accessed May 11, 2010). documents/RINO.pdf (accessed April 30, 2010). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “The South Platte River in Fairmount Mortuary & Cemetery. “Fairmount Cemetery.” Fairmount Colorado.” EPA 908-F-98-002 (1999): 7. Cemetery. (accessed April 16, 2010). Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery. “Supporting Awareness and Preservation of Denver’s Oldest Cemetery.” http:// (accessed March 25, 2010).ROOT v2 |
  • 48. BELOW Pioneer plant aesthetic captured by fine art photographer Joel Sternfeld 2000. From the 1930s until the last train delivered three carloads of frozen turkeys in 1980, Manhattan’s High Line transported rail freight to warehouses and factories 30 feet above the city’s busy industrial district. Soon after the abandonment, wild seeds began to take root in the elevated rail ballast. The story of the High Line’s 2009 rebirth as one of Manhattan’s most significant urban landscapes since Central Park originates with that abandoned, self-sown garden.TH E P O W E R O F P LANT AESTHETICSSelf-Sown Gardens, Naturalistic Planting and the High LineAmanda Jeter p47 | place over time
  • 49. LEFT Historic High Line. Author unknown 1934. the 70-year-old structure. In response, community members Joshua David and Robert Hammond formed the non-profit, Friends of the High Line, to preserve the elevated “garden.” Strategically using artist Joel Sternfeld’s color photographs that documented the High Line’s spontaneous landscapes, the organization raised millions of dollars and announced a high-profile design competition. In October 2004, the landscape architecture firm of Field Operations and architecture firm of Diller Scofido + Renfro won the commission to turn the 22-block long structure into an official park that preserved the qualities of the pioneer garden. The first section of the High Line opened in 2009, and the second section, from 20th to 30th streets, is projected to open Despite popular belief that neglected spaces are an entrance, the riveted black steel columns and girders in 2011. Famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf eyesore and limitation on redevelopment, the accidental are cut to expose a profile of the hybrid infrastructure: created the planting plan that included mossland, aesthetic of the wild High Line made financial and the repainted steel supports a cast-concrete platform meadow, woodland and wetland communities inspired regulatory change possible in one of the country’s topped by grey birch (Betula populifolia) rustling by the emergent aesthetic of the linear garden. most competitive cities. The story evolves with the behind sleek glass fencing. Neutral concrete stairs and The current High Line is celebrated, well-used and High Line’s reopening in 2009 and the new dynamic stainless steel railing ascend to tawny weathering steel costly—The New York Post reported the yearly High planting aesthetic that helped create one of the city’s planters. Just months after the park’s 2009 summer Line operations and maintenance budget to be $671,641 most popular and expensive parks. A pressing question opening, a visitor could see lush plantings of purple per acre. In comparison, Bryant Park costs $479,166 engaging the power of both plant aesthetics is how can aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’) per acre, and the average New York City park costs the initial transformation of abandoned infrastructure and violet fall crocus (Crocus pulchella) beaming $9,555 per acre to maintain. The High Line expenses be maintained through space and time? amongst the powdery grey birch bark and verdant cool include the operations of Friends of the Highline, which The southern tip of the High Line rises above the season grasses. acts as conservancy charged with maintaining the park. corner of Gansevoort and Washington streets in the In 1999 (encouraged by local property owners who Conservancies have helped maintain urban spaces Meatpacking District and soars north to 20th Street claimed easements under the abandoned High Line) including Central Park and Bryant Park, but according and Tenth Avenue in Chelsea. At the Gansevoort the city of New York announced plans to tear down to Vice-President of Horticulture and Plant Operations,ROOT v2 |
  • 50. BELOW The textured concrete walking surface meanders through tall plantings in the Chelsea Thicket (Section 2, 20th to 30th strets). Design by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Courtesy of the City of New York. RIGHT Photo on the newly constructed Highline Park. Photo by Amanda Jeter 2009.Patrick Cullina, Friends of the High Line is unique in that the rail maneuvered between painted brick warehousesthe conservancy took part in the initial conception and tagged by graffiti of the park. He also adds that Friends of the High Sternfeld’s photos show that the original HighLine raises all of its own operating income (Cullina 2010). Line bloom list included five-inch tall colonies of grapeThis scale of ongoing fundraising may be plausible in hyacinth (Muscari racemosum) in the spring, fall clustersthe affluent West Side of Manhattan, but could it be of purple aster and in winter a small pine tree wrapped inrepeated in the poorer landscapes of New York’s Lower white Christmas lights. According to ecologist RichardEast Side or Denver’s Riverside Cemetery? Stalter, the original High Line landscape consisted of over 161 species of plants. Stalter performed anInvaluable Pioneer Plants assessment of the High Line during early planning During the 1980s and 90s, tenacious perennial and meetings and states that the “largest plant familiesannuals appropriated the High Line corridors to create represented were Asteraceae, Poaceae and Rosacea,”a secret, marginal garden appreciated by intrepid urban or plants in the aster, grass and rose families (Ulamexplorers. Often, Manhattan residents adopted the 2009, 103). Rooting in a planting medium of less thanspace for art installations or their own garden project. a few inches, pioneer plants including little bluestemAdjacent resident Patty Heffley tossed over water grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) and purple lovegrassballoons filled with seeds in an attempt to start a garden (Eragrostis spectabilis) made a home on the abandonedon the High Line from her West 20th Street loft (Green railway with no irrigation (Darke 2007, 168-169).2009, 3). Photographs from Sternfeld and other artistsreveal isolated landscapes hidden from the pedestriansbelow. Wispy grasses emerge from the rusted rail andballast. Woodlands of gangly sumac converge where p49 | place over time
  • 51. CENTER Gansevoort Slow Stair, corner of Gansevoort Street and Washinton Street, looking North. Photo by Iwan Baan 2009. In the early 2000s the haunting aesthetic portrayed New Wave movement that promotes ecologically in Sternfeld’s photos became an integral part of saving inspired garden design. In Planting Design: Gardens in the High Line from demolition. At one fundraising event Time and Space, Oudolf and co-author Noel Kingsbury fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg presented a define naturalistic, ecological plant design as a series of $10 million challenge grant that was immediately met principles: 1) use of plants with wild character, 2) nature- by rising socialite Lisa Marie Falcone. In addition to the inspired planting patterns, 3) pragmatic synthesis of massive fundraising efforts, New York City regulation native and non-native plants, 4) biodiversity, 5) ecologic had to be changed. From 2002 to 2005, the New York fit to site and 6) dynamic, perennial plantings. Oudolf City Planning Department rezoned the industrial area also looks for plants that have an “elegance in their around the High Line to be a mixed-use area with special decay” that adds to the psychological journey through design guidelines for adjacent development (Ulam the seasons. Field Operations founder and lead 2009, 100). Titled the West Chelsea/High Line Rezoning designer James Corner stated that Oudolf composes Law, the regulation won the 2006 American Planning plants in a way where “all 12 months are interesting” Association’s Outstanding Planning Award. All this (McGrane 2008, 1). This aesthetic is translated into the originating from a bewitching pioneer plant aesthetic. High Line maintenance regimes where seed heads and grasses are allowed to decay and persist through the A Dynamic New Garden winter before spring trimming. Compared to most of Manhattan’s sparse Oudolf’s New Wave philosophy and the High Line streetscapes, the new High Line is an abundant sky pioneer plant aesthetic join forces in the new garden garden of over 40,000 grasses and perennials grown design. Working with Field Operations one year in an 18” to 36” deep growing medium. In The Sundance before the competition, Oudolf remembers that “from Channel’s “High Line Stories,” Piet Oudolf states that the beginning we believed the planting design should the design is “a journey section by section” and that he have the same feeling of the wild garden” (Oudolf sees his “work as process, how you start something 2010). No plants were salvaged, however, due to the that performs…a performance in place.” Lauded as toxic chemical pollution from leaking freight trains one of the leading authorities in perennial plant design, and lead paint. The new design became a metaphor Oudolf is often called “gutsy” for his strong focus on for the original garden that differed in its intention structure and form rather than a monotheistic color and maintenance strategy. Oudolf states that 95 allegiance. He is also associated with the European percent of the new plants are natives precisely chosen for their ability to grow well togetherROOT v2 |
  • 52. BELOW Washington Grasslands, aerial view of the High Line over Little West 12th Street. Photo by Iwan Baan 2009. TOP Image showing the rusticreality of the highline before it was turned into a park. Photo by Joel Sternfeld 2000.throughout their lifespan: American bittersweet buildings designed by famous architects including(Celastrus scandens) replaces Oriental bittersweet Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban(Celastrus orbiculatus), an invasive. Inspired by the and Neil Denari - all empowered by a dynamic hybrid ofrail ballast, grey gravel mulch keeps weeds out and garden and infrastructure.reduces irrigation needs. Linear cast-concrete plankstaper into verdant planting beds to create a transitionbetween urban and green infrastructure and alludeback in time to the aesthetic of spontaneousvegetation emerging from the abandoned rails. Behind this new beauty lingers that costlymaintenance regime—$671,641 per acre. Graphics fromField Operation’s winning entry show the maintenanceof the plantings decreasing over five years withbiodiversity increasing. Thanks to Oudolf’s design, plantmaintenance regimes will decrease in intensity overtime, but yearly costs that include 17 operations staffwill remain. Due to popularity, items like crowd controlconsultants have become additional expenses. In thesummer of 2009, roughly 20,000 people per day visitedthe park, and staff must limit the visitors to the 1,700legal capacity set by the park’s unique elevated location.With estimated operating costs to be $3.5 million to$4.5 million a year by 2011, Friends of the High Lineproposed a High Line Improvement District (currentlyon hold due to community concerns) and concessions tohelp cover costs (Kovaleski 2009). In contrast to costs,the intense investment in the High Line has yieldedprofitable development for the community as evidencedby the flurry of new hotel, residential and museum p51 | place over time
  • 53. BELOW Image showing the rustic reality of the highline before it was turned into a park. Photo by Joel Sternfeld 2000. Repetition and Resiliency REFERENCES Kovaleski, Serge F. “With Success of High Line, Dual Rewards for If the rejuvenation of aging infrastructure and Bowring, Jacky. “Lament for a Lost Landscape.” Landscape Executive.” The New York Times, August 25, 2009, http://www.nytimes. abandoned spaces are to be repeated and maintained Architecture Magazine 99 (October 2009). com/ (accessed May 15, 2010). over time, what can be learned from the High Line? Calder, Rich. “Sky ‘High’ Costs.” New York Post, August 3, 2009, http:// McGrane, Sally. “A Landscape in Winter, Dying Heroically.” The New Cullina, from Friends of the High Line, underlines the (accessed May 15, 2010). York Times, January 31, 2008, (accessed May importance of “framing value” to engage interest, Darke, Rick. The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes. 15, 2010). much like Sternfeld’s photographs framed a haunting Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc. , 2007. Oudolf, Piet and Noel Kingsbury. Planting Design: Gardens in Time and narrative of the threatened High Line garden. Themes Green, Penelope (June 25, 2009) “West Side Story Amid the Laundry.” Space. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2005. of community action, regulatory reform, alternative The New York Times, June 25, 2009, Section D. The Sundance Channel. “High Line Stores: James Corner and Piet funding mechanisms and designs that integrate plant Friends of the High Line, Editor. “Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Oudolf.” (accessed on April process and cultural adaptation emerge as well. In Street to 30th Street.” January 2008). 30, 2010). times of government austerity measures and shrinking The High Line. http:// / (accessed April 12, 2010). Ulam, Alex. “Back on Track.” Landscape Architecture 99, (2009): budgets, non-profits like Friends of the High Line are Jeter, Amanda. “Interview with Piet Oudolf.” (May 5, 2010). 90-109. becoming more essential to funding the maintenance Jeter, Amanda. “Interview with Patrick Cullina.” (May 20, 2010). of public space. While the new plantings are abundantly beautiful with seasonal bloom interest, the original plantings had a powerful appeal as a wild garden thriving in the density of Manhattan. Biotic and abiotic processes like wind and anonymous gardeners tended the abandoned High Line for little or no expense. In less affluent neighborhoods, the growth processes of the wild High Line could inform designs that cost less to maintain while still providing a garden experience. Communities and designers have much to learn from the resiliency of plants to grow, decay and re-emerge through obstacles of space and time.ROOT v2 |
  • 54. A muddled mess red truck points diagonally toward the ground, its bed solutions. His work, with the joined efforts of UCD sticking up like the tail feathers of an ostrich whose faculty and students, ultimately led to the creation of a of debris sits in the head is buried. Green grass peers out from under the simple platform. piles that stretch beyond the truck in disintegrated The platform project evolved out of multiple foreground of a photo mounds of rubble. Full-sized trees lie across the mid- semesters of landscape architecture design studios, ground, their branches reaching barrenly up into the years of research and extensive community discussion. from February 2006. gray white sky. Through this screen a red industrial scale Through this extended process came the realization barge sits on solid ground, marking the place where a that reconnecting the neighborhood to the Bayou Amidst this pile of cloth, levee once held back the water of the Industrial Canal Bienvenue wetland was a top priority. Identified as a from the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood district of prime location for wetland restoration that could help cinder blocks and pieces New Orleans, Louisiana. manage stormwater for all of New Orleans, the Bayou The image shows the neighborhood’s devastated also offered an opportunity for perspective away from of a place dissolved landscape four months after Dr. Austin Allen, Professor the difficult work of recreating homes amidst the of Landscape Architecture at University of Colorado destruction left by Katrina’s wake. are multiple metal Denver (UCD), arrived to document the situation and The platform’s success can be measured by the find ways to direct the resources of the university to degree to which it has been and continues to be fully structures twisted rebuilding the neighborhood. Though one of the first to accepted and utilized by the neighborhood. Outside of arrive, many others followed to represent institutions this embrace, it serves to host prestigious guests who and broken. and universities offering service and ideas. His take was stand on the wooden planks to experience the unique They look to have been fences and gates at one unique in that he focused all his immediate attention on perspective offered while they explore discussion time and show evidence of wrought iron artistry. A listening to the community without offering immediate about wetland restoration and/or how to help rebuildLISTENING TO THE PEOPLEReconnecting the Bayou to the Lower Ninth Ward, New OrleansSera Sibley p53 | place over time
  • 55. PREVIOUS The original platform structure as seen from the neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward. LEFT Railroad tracks at base of platform. BELOW Panoramic view of the Bayou Bienvenue taken from the platform. Photos by Brian Stuhr April 2008. to the community. The structure is made of wood planks a perspective that was unavailable to the many not that stretch out parallel to the wetland expanse that willing or able to climb the 15 foot wall and wade into had so far been isolated from view and immediate the swampy waters. Now the viewpoint is offered experience. Connected to the structure is a stairway equally to local residents, students and visitors that drops down over a 15-foot steel piling wall. This wall from other areas. As reconnection on a local scale acts as a levee put in by the Army Corps of Engineers increases, the national discussion intensifies. after Hurricane Betsy flooded the neighborhood in 1965. Nancy Sutley’s visit led to a press release from The stairs drop into a mostly abandoned strip of land the White House identifying the Bayou Bienvenue that houses a low-use railway. A packed dirt pathway as a project that “…integrates sustainability with offers passage across the tracks along Florida Street mitigation measures and will restore approximately to the mouth of Caffin Street - a core artery of the 10,000 acres of critical cypress wetlands using neighborhood. wetland assimilation of wastewater effluent.” These In 2009 Nancy Sutley, Chairwoman for the White words directly reflect extensive research coming House council on Environmental Quality visited the from such institutions as Louisiana State University, platform. As she stood and spoke to a small crowd, University of Wisconsin and the Sewage and Water President Obama addressed people blocks away at Board of New Orleans. Studies have shown that Martin Luther King, Jr. school. Their combined visit wetland restoration will be an important step the Lower Ninth Ward. The platform has burned, been marks an important moment for discussion of wetland in creating stormwater management that could rebuilt and is now claimed by so many that the credit restoration and for national attention to the extreme increase safety for all of New Orleans. due to the original builders is somewhat lost. difficulties that continue to inundate the Lower Ninth The platform itself offers an established The built design of the platform was finally realized Ward. nexus for these groups to conduct research, in in January 2008. The design, though structurally simple, This local and national attention has been directly turn increasing interaction and exposure of this came from the complexity of many minds – particularly supported by the platform. The creation of a place work to the neighborhood residents. Though these those who followed Dr. Allen’s lead in listening closely for study, conversation and an expansive view offersROOT v2 |
  • 56. Both photos by Brian Stuhr 2008. MIDDLE The destroyed neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward in February 2005. In the background is the barge that was parked in the Industrial Canal and broke through the levee after Hurricane Katrina brought heavy rain and rising water. Photo by Ya King Masani February 2006.connections are ultimately of proximity, they cigarette in a plastic garbage can) burned a 25-foot When it comes down to it, helping the neighborhoodshow how important the access over the levee is hole in the platform’s center. The fire happened on a through their devastation is where the project the many that could be affected by restoration Friday night in 2009. By Monday morning the rebuilding The embrace of the platform by the people of the Lowerefforts. process was underway. With the help of the “Make It Ninth Ward – that they have painted the structure, John Taylor is one such person. A local, Right Foundation,” the community not only recreated the brought garbage cans and mowed a path to its stepslife-long resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, platform, they added a shade structure and a lower level all in the midst of the complete rebuilding of their ownlovingly referred to as “swamp man,” Taylor access to the Bayou. homes – is true evidence of a project that has served itsoffers a unique knowledge base and acts now The word from Dr. Allen and other involved students greatest an informal interpreter at the platform. In and faculty members who have visited in the last fewan intriguing photo from 2009, the Ecumenical years is that the platform is now a destination place forPatriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox those who continue the struggle to rebuild and live in theArchdiocese of America stands in full religious Lower Ninth Ward.dress, the wooden shade structure of the rebuiltplatform rising above his head. Reaching to apleasant handshake is the extended, tattooed NOTESarm of Taylor (link here). This interactionreflects one example of many that are part of Thank you to Dr. Austin Allen, Jeramy Boik,connecting local intelligence and lore to larger Lori Catalano, Charlie Chase and Brian Stuhrnetworks. The adoption of the structure and its for the interviews that created this article.happenings by Taylor is a powerful indicator of theneighborhood’s embrace. Further evidence of this appears in howquickly the structure was rebuilt after a fire(started by the burning ember of a discarded p55 | place over time
  • 57. There are some places that cling to life through decay. They exist, not as they once did, but rather in a suspended state where neglect andtime has displaced their former purpose. These spaces include, but are not limited to, those in contest, areas lacking a communicative presence,interstitial go-betweens, post-industrial landscapes and post-crisis places removed from prominence in favor of the grandiose, the highly visibleor the acutely popular. These stretches are peppered throughout the urban landscape and beyond, are quite likely undesirable and assuredly haveuntapped potential. We call on students and professionals alike to participate in ROOT3 . Submissions are requested to address the above topic or to fill ROOTdepartments including: book reviews, landscape critiques, thesis research, scholarly papers, travel projects, design work, photo-essays orinterviews. All submittals will be reviewed by the ROOT editorial staff and faculty advisors. Deadline for submissions is January 14, 2011.RO OT 3 CA L L F O R SUBMISSIONS FORGOTTEN SPACESFor information on submitting, please visit or email
  • 58. In places of ruin, that are forgotten and abandoned by human interaction,an exchange begins to take place. It is an exchange of energy, and of culture and nature, where thecontrolling hand ofa human is removed and the latent potential of the earth is realized. In this vein, this rendering exhibits the very essence of this poetic and delicate exchange. - Erin Devine, Studio I, Fall 2009 Landscape Architecture
  • 59. ROOT3 CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: F O R G OT T E N S PAC E S There are some places that cling to life through decay. They exist, not as they once did, but rather in a suspended state where neglect and time has displaced their former purpose. These spaces include, but are not limited to, those in contest, areas lacking a communicative presence, interstitial go-betweens, post-industrial landscapes and post-crisis places removed from prominence in favor of the grandiose, the highly visible or the acutely popular. These stretches are peppered throughout the urban landscape and beyond, are quite likely undesirable and assuredly have untapped potential. We call on students and professionals alike to participate in ROOT3 . Submissions are requested to address the above topic or to fill ROOT departments including: book reviews, landscape critiques, thesis research, scholarly papers, travel projects, design work, photo-essays or interviews. All submittals will be reviewed by the ROOT editorial staff and faculty advisors. Deadline for submissions is January 14, 2011. For information on submitting, please visit or email bganno@root-land.orgOur mission is to encourage the discourse of landscape architecture by highlighting the designs, challenges and inspirations of students, faculty and professionals through print and digital publications.