Archive for the ‘ ADAPTATION ’ Category

neighborhood strategy // ground over figure

. . .a first pass.  there will be a series of diagram highlighting the different aspects of the strategy. (circulation, detention, metrics. . .)


marginy st. // existing and proposed

Stormwater benefits // Bald Cypress versus Long Leaf Pine

Cultural Landscape Foundation // tree benefit comparison

Stormwater benefits: In the coastal plain region Longleaf Pine and the Bald Cypress have the potential to intercepting similar levels of runoff.

Longleaf Pine (8″ D):  765 gallons / year of runoff

Bald Cypress(8″ D):   765 gallons / year of runoff


Adaptation (work in progress)

The unpredictable nature of climate change and the varied impact that it will have in different regions means that the ability to flexibly adapt will be important for our long-term survival. The terms climate change and global warming are often used interchangeably. Global warming, however, does not adequately describe the complex problems associated with climate change because it limits the discussion of the environmental crisis to increasing temperatures.  The most pressing problems for the built environment are consequences that flow from escalating temperature variation.  In a recent interview with the American Society of Landscape Architects, ASLA, Kristina Hill argued that “(c)ities need to recognize that it’s not about planning for an average of 2-10 degrees warmer summers; it’s the new extremes in rainfall, flooding, drought, and the duration of heat waves that will really challenge our infrastructure and affect our lives.” (Hill, Managing the Effects of Climate Change 2010) In re-imagining the infrastructure of our cities, an important first step is to begin a broader discussion on effective methods for confronting the potential impacts of climate change. Within each city, communities should work to identify the biggest threats from climate change and work towards developing methods for mitigating those issues.

With the intensification of environmental stress caused by either higher or lower precipitation levels, improving the overall function of water systems should be an essential component of sustainable design.  An integrated, ecological approach to urban water systems will require innovative interventions at multiple scales in urban communities.    Another critical issue in stormwater management is determining the highest functional priorities for the design.  The design of urban water systems can be designed to mitigate dynamic fluctuation in water levels or to improve overall water quality.   Ideally stormwater management designs would be able to mitigate fluctuating water levelsand water quality issues.  Unfortunately, insufficient funding can limit the scope of the design.

In New Orleans the development and maintenance of water management strategies are essential to the function of the city and its survival.  In the community of St. Roch more intense storms with higher precipitation levels will result in debilitating flooding levels that will impede the function of the community.  With the increasing threats from climate change St. Roch and the city of New Orleans should explore a framework for living that makes space for stormwater without compromising the safety of the residence.  Using the community of St. Roch as the site for the exploration, the thesis will explore methods for incorporating dynamic hydrologic fluctuations within the framework of a shrinking city.  Shrinking cities are characterized by an abundance of available parcels as a result of declining population levels.  The dispersed network of city owned properties provides the opportunity to develop a decentralized water network that can be integrated into the existing city infrastructure. The thesis will explore ways of aggregating available, underutilized parcels in St. Roch to create a large scale water management system.

Southern Louisiana // context research

Big Branch Marsh, Louisiana 2011/02

Context Big Branch March Refuge (BBM) comprises over 18,000 acres of managed lands (U.S. Fish and Wildlife) and it is located on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. I went to the BBM refuge because I wanted to experience a hardwood fresh water marsh (pine flatwoods).   The predominate canopy species were the Slash and Longleaf Pines.  The flatwoods lacked an understory. The ground plane consisted of saw grass, cord grass, bulltounge (tubers) and the Louisiana iris.  Many of the species in the wild life refuge are only found in Southern Louisiana.

While I was on the north shore of lake Pontchartrain I saw an American Bittern- a bird only seen every 2 to 5 years.  A rare sighting and it was amazing to watch it sneak back in to the safety of the dense grass.  Is birding in my future?

Synthesis I was seeking an alternative fresh water ecosystem because bald cypress ecosystems are difficult to adapt to an urban context.  Bald cypress is perceived by many residents of New Orleans as a mess species when it is grown in neighborhoods because it is deciduous.  I was struck by the interesting patterns and rhythms created by the Longleaf Pines.  The bark is coarse and intricate.   The trees grow in two formations- thinner smaller trees close together and wider, taller trees spaced farther apart.    The Longleaf pine is an interesting alternative to the bald cypress because it is not deciduous- which means there is no seasonal mess- and it is adapted to live in hydric soil conditions.

Inquiry How would Longleaf pines adapt to urban environment?  Are there any scientific studies analyzing the affect of lead toxin levels on the long-term health of Longleaf pines?  Do any of the grasses help to remove environmental pollutants like lead?

The pictures above are from my commute between New Orleans and the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.