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Amenity potential of stormwater management

The "'amenity potential' of stormwater management" is the subject of an essay by Stuart Echols and Eliza Pennypacker in Volume 27, Issue 2 of Landscape Journal which landed in my mailbox last week. Echols and Pennypacker have identified a new type of stormwater management design which they term "artful rainwater design" or ARD. ARDs provide non-utility functions or "landscape attractiveness"-boosting value. One example, featured in the essay, is Growing Vine Street in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. I photographed the runnel/ cistern steps during a 2007 visit to Seattle. The photograph was taken in the summer so the runnel was dry, but the physical design is very engaging. The runnel is adjacent to the Belltown P-Patch; p-patches are Seattle's community gardens. (Aside: This is a great strategy for combining ecological service and food production.)

Another ARD featured in the essay is Melrose Edge Streets, also in Seattle. The authors did not include a photograph of the site. The street might be a SEA (Street Edge Alternative) Street developed by the Public Utilities Commission "to provide drainage that more closely mimics the natural landscape prior to development than traditional piped systems." Portland State University's green street of "sunken basins" is featured. Local ecologist has written about the project here. The green street design achieves "aesthetic richness" by creating "an experience of beauty or pleasure focused on the stormwater."

Although it is not one of the case studies presented in the Echols and Pennypacker essay, the rain man sculpture at New Seasons Market in the Seven Corners neighborhood of Portland is fun (a form of pleasure). The site of the market used to be a mini-shopping mall. In addition to the rain man, there are several bioswales in the parking lot. Finally, I would nominate Lawrence Halprin's Ira Keller/ Forecourt Fountain in downtown Portland. While the fountain was not designed to manage stormwater, and so technically cannot be considered in Echols and Pennypacker's framework, it enables interaction with water (recreation amenity) and is beautifully designed (aesthetic goal). The fountain was designed to mimic cascades of the Pacific Northwest. The remaining three goals in the Echols-Pennypacker study are safety, public relations, and education. View Walt Lockley's incredible photographs of the fountain here.


D.Y. Wiley said…
I found this while searching for pictures of the Belltown P-patch. I try to get to Seattle every year, and found the Belltown garden a couple of summers ago.
Finding these pictures and this blog post was great, since I work as a stream monitorer, and on watershed management. I have a big interest in rain gardens, and innovative storm water management. This was a neat find.
local ecologist said…
Thank you, Yvette. You are welcome to submit a guest post on urban watershed management!