Water, Land-Water Linkages, and Aquatic Ecology

This course will provide students with an understanding of water that will inform their professional approaches to landscape architecture, architecture, and planning, and contribute to protecting, improving, restoring, and sustaining water resources. Emphasis will be placed on both the science and the application of this science in designs for projects involving a wide range of interactions with water including coastlines, inland rivers and lakes, and urban stormwater. With ongoing global changes in climate, urbanization, and the use of water for energy and food production, the relationship between humans and water will continue to grow and evolve. Students will come away from this course with a better understanding of this evolution and how designs can account for hydrologic change and adaptation. While many varied case studies from around the United States and internationally will be discussed throughout the semester, much of the course content and assignments will involve hydrology, stormwater, and sea level rise in the Charles River and Boston Harbor, river and wetland restoration in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and stormwater and low-impact design in Washington, DC. 

Discussion of these focus areas will include design challenges, social issues, permitting, and the implementation process. Students will come away with a better understanding of how projects go from conceptual design to a constructed site. Students will be encouraged to bring water and ecology-related challenges from other courses, studios, or projects to the class for an open discussion. Hands-on exercises include watershed delineation, hydrologic calculations to estimate runoff and groundwater infiltration and flow, design exercises developing recommendations for stormwater management best practices and low-impact design (LID) for a neighborhood in Washington, DC, and research and design exercises for river restoration projects. 

Attendance at two field trips with hands-on field sampling will be mandatory: a two-day weekend field trip to Plymouth and an in-class fieldtrip to the Alewife stormwater facility. Assignments focused on the restoration sites in Plymouth will culminate in a conceptual design of a river and wetland restoration project. 

Evaluation: Based on class attendance and participation (including field trips), short written assignments, quizzes, focused design exercises, and a semester-long project.