From Storm water Management to Artful Rain water Design

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    opportunities. As these new strategies are integrated into projects, they can either be concealed under-ground in pipes and vaults, or celebrated on the surface as site amenities that increase landscape attractiveness or valuethis is artful rain water design. Addressing the amenity aspect provides a useful strategy for ensuring that storm water management starts at the source, as so many experts have advised (Richman 1999; Ferguson 1991; Liptan 2005; Schueler, Kumble, and Heraty 1992; Coffman 2000; France 2002).

    This article offers a systematic analysis of the de-sign strategies used in 20 innovative ARD projects. Its purpose is (1) to clarify the goals and objectives of storm water management conceived as site amenity, and (2) to provide transferable knowledge to designers interested in creating ARD projects.


    The concept of storm water system as site amenity is not new. Skillfully designed detention systems (typi-cally naturalized ponds) have long been recognized for their aesthetic and community value (Bookout 1994a; Ferguson and Debo 1994; Tunney 2001). New storm -water management techniques such as bio- retention gardens that beautify the streetscape are taking hold in communities such as Maplewood and Burnsville, Minnesota (MPCA 2005). A few books and articles have identifi ed the desirability of addressing the amenity potential of storm water management (Gransson 1998; Wenk 1998; Niemczynowicz 1999; Thompson and Sorvig 2000; Dreiseitl, Grau, and Ludwig 2001; Dreiseitl and Grau 2005). In addition, Landscape Architecture has profi led many examples of ARD (for example, Leccese 1997; Thompson 1999, 2004; Brown 2001; Echols and Pennypacker 2006). However, only a few publications have tried to clarify what is meant by amenity in storm -water management. Two stand out: SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) literature in the United King-dom, and publications by Peter Stahre on efforts in the city of Malm, Sweden.

    ABSTRACT New storm water management techniques can use rain water to create amenities that enhance a sites attractive-ness or value. This conceptartful rain water designboth ad-dresses storm water management in environmentally responsible ways and creates expressive landscapes that celebrate storm -water. Through an analysis of 20 exemplary designs, the goals and objectives of storm water management as a site amenity, as well as specifi c design techniques for its accomplishment, are explained. Five amenity goals drawn from the case studieseducation, recreation, safety, public relations, and aesthetic richnessare identifi ed, categorized, and described. The paper concludes by discussing the future of artful rain water design.

    KEYWORDS Amenity, design, landscape, storm water tech-niques, urban drainage

    Rain falls on developed land and is drained away in various ways. It is one thing to divert storm water to underground pipes and concrete vaults, disposing of the water as a waste product with a high probability of degrading aquatic ecosystems downstream. It is an-other thing to address storm water in environmentally responsible ways through best management practices (BMPs) that control runoff rate, volume, frequency, duration, and quality to promote the ecological health of our waterways. But it is another thing again to em-ploy environmental BMPs in designs that call attention to storm water management in ways that educate and delight those who visit. This third approacheffective storm water management as art formis what we call artful rain water design (ARD).1

    Storm water management is an essential compo-nent of almost every land- planning and site- design project.2 Although many view industrial activity as the major culprit in water pollution, 70 percent of water pollution in our country comes from non- point sources such as urban runoff (USEPA 2005a). The re- appropriated Clean Water Act of 1972 and the subse-quent National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System now require thousands of municipal governments to implement storm water management programs that reduce non- point source pollution. Traditional end- of- pipe, out- of- sight solutions will not work. Instead, the new paradigm of small, safe, integrated BMPs that manage runoff close to the source creates new design

    From Storm water Management to Artful Rain water Design

    Stuart Echols and Eliza Pennypacker

  • Echols and Pennypacker 269

    fare are well established (Roesner and Matthews 1990; Tourbier 1994). Protecting or creating aquatic habitat has also become a leading goal (Coffman 2000; Hager 2001). Utilitarian goals commonly include promoting ground water recharge, reducing pollutant loads, pro-tecting stream channels, preventing increased overbank fl ooding, and safely conveying large fl oods (Schueler, Kumble, and Heraty 1992; USEPA 2005b). Common storm water management objectives (Ferguson and Debo 1994) and the varied techniques for accomplish-ing them (Hager 2001; Urbonas, Roesner, and Sonnen 1989) are presented in Table 1.

    In contrast to the extensive publication on storm -water management utility goals, no methodical study of the goals, objectives, and techniques for the ame-nity component of ARD exists. The few current publi-cations that address amenity issues are limited to de-scribing or critiquing specifi c designs. Our intent is to move beyond this descriptive work to bring specifi city to amenity goals and objectives related to storm water management and to identify design techniques used to achieve those goals.

    In the United Kingdom, policies introduced ame-nity factors as a facet of storm water management in the early 2000s through new concepts such as the urban drainage triangle (Figure 1). Sustainable urban drain-age regulations in the United Kingdom now require quality, quantity, and amenity to be considered equally in evaluating new drainage plans (CIRIA 2001). Al-though the SUDS defi nition of amenity focused initially on providing open space and wildlife habitat, SUDS in-cludes community value, resource management (e.g., rain water use), multi- use of space, education, water features, habitat creation, biodiversity action plans (National SUDS Working Group 2003, 60). Peter Stahre has taken a similar view: The characteristic feature of the new approach to urban drainage is that quantity and quality issues are handled together with amenity (Stahre 2005, 2). Stahre also identifi es the positive val-ues of open storm drainage as shown in Figure 2 (Stahre 2006, 13).

    Abundant literature addresses the utility goals, ob-jectives, and techniques of storm water management. Though the goals and techniques are evolving, the basic principles of protecting public health, safety, and wel-

    Figure 1. Development of more sustain-able urban drainage systems and the urban drainage triangle (CIRIA 2001).

    Figure 2. Positive values of open storm drainage (Stahre 2006).

  • 270 Landscape Journal 27:208

    attractiveness or value in terms of mainstream West-ern aesthetics. Second, for practical reasons the proj-ects studied herein are all in the United States. The true substance of this studyarticulation of amenity goals and objectives, and exploration of the design tech-niques used to achieve themis presented by parsing goals, objectives, and techniques into discrete catego-ries. This simple presentation format is intended to provide a clear explanatory system, but undoubtedly readers will categorize these differently and surely de-velop a more nuanced ARD outline for their own use.

    A small number of design fi rms have pursued the innovative approach that we call artful rain water de-sign. The results are precedent- setting designs that em-ploy new storm water management strategies in artful and expressive ways. We developed a list of ARD projects from around the nation by reviewing the past ten years of ASLA and AIA awards for designs whose clear intent included storm water management systems devised to create site amenities, namely increased attractiveness or value focused on the experience of rain water. We then asked the project designers, as well as experts in storm water issues, to recommend other designs rep-resenting the best in ARD. We reviewed the most fre-quently recommended projects and arrived at a list that represents a diversity of setting, project type, and runoff treatment methods.

    We acknowledge that this selection process was infl uenced by the exposure and relative popularity of specifi c ARD projects nationwide; admittedly, many exciting projects were omitted simply because they were unknown to us or to our informants. We have chosen to accept this as a necessary limitation of in-vestigating a new and evolving design subject. Hence, this selection process used information- oriented sam-pling as opposed to random sampling because we were interested in investigating current ARD projects with the richest design information. A glance at the list also reveals that most of the case studies are located in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Clearly this geographic restriction poses another limitation to this study, but it is not surprising that 18 of 20 consis-


    We begin our analysis by offering our own defi ni-tion of ARD amenity: In the context of ARD, amenity is understood as a feature focused on the experience of storm water in a way that increases the landscapes at-tractiveness or value. The rest of this paper identifi es and clarifi es the specifi c amenity goals, objectives, and desi