The Hydrological Schoolyard
Monday, February 15, 2010
Adding to the growing list of stormwater management projects posted on this blog is the Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden in Portland, Oregon, designed by Kevin Robert Perry with Brandon Wilson and built in 2007.
It is included in the American Society of Landscape Architect's recently launched website Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes, a sort of glossy brochure of 10 mothership-approved projects to showcase the ASLA and its members to a lay public and some allied fields that unsurprisingly are unfamiliar with what they actually.
“Through this site,” we are told, “you will learn how landscape architects improve your world through projects ranging from the large-scale sustainable master plans and housing communities to small-scale green streets, parking lots, and private yards. You will also learn how landscape architects, planners, architects, engineers, horticulturalists, and others work in interdisciplinary teams to create innovative models that outline a path to sustainable future practice.”
Here, most of the rainwater falling on the school grounds are captured and allowed to infiltrate the soil rather than piped away on aging sewers.
Quoting the project statement: “The 80-year old combined sewer pipes serving the Mount Tabor neighborhood are inadequately sized to effectively manage the amount of impervious area runoff generated from neighborhood buildings, streets, and parking lots. During intense rainfall events, the overload of stormwater entering the neighborhood combined sewer system will 'push' sewer water back into the basements of local residences. The City of Portland, dedicated to solving this problem, began working with Portland Public Schools to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of stormwater entering the combined sewer system from Mount Tabor Middle School.”
This depaved parking lot also has the added benefit of cleansing the water of pollutants, cooling the school's south-facing classroom and providing an on-site, real-world example of environmental design.
We won't say much more about the project, because the program is similar in many ways to others we've covered before, most recently the rain garden at Sidwell Friends School, though that is technically more complicated, as it also manages wastewater. We have also covered the environmental and aesthetic benefits of rain gardens with another project by Perry: Portland's Green Street Project. In that post, we also touched upon their potential economic and social benefits to places where local governments are fiscally unable to maintain basic infrastructural services. Finally, we once attempted to summarize for our mostly lay readers all the key concepts in our posts on Grasscrete®; simply substitute “Grasscrete®” with “rain gardens.”
Now if only someone were to make the hydrological Edible Schoolyard.
The Hydrological Playground