Water, Land-Water Linkages, and Aquatic Ecology

GSD 6333 covers water across the globe in relation to (1) land-water interactions, emphasizing hydrology and water quality, (2) aquatic ecology, and (3) human activities, including design questions and methodologies. While the course will focus on fresh waters, there will be limited coverage of near-shore coastal waters and coastal wetlands.

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. We will learn about environmental and land justice issues and think about their relationship to our design work. We will learn from members of the Indigenous communities about the importance of land, water, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Students will come away from this course with a better understanding of our evolving relationship with water and the environment and how designs can account for hydrologic change and adaptation while also considering the local communities in which we work. While many varied case studies from around the U.S. 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, MA; and stormwater and low-impact design in Washington, D.C.

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 projects/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 best-management-practices/low-impact design (LID) for a neighborhood in Washington, DC, and research and design exercises for river restoration projects. Multiple classes will have outside activities or visits to nearby river, wetland, and water-related sites, including the Alewife stormwater facility, Alewife Brook, and the Charles River. Attendance at a 2-day weekend fieldtrip with hands-on field sampling will be mandatory. A semester long group project will focus on the sites visited during this weekend fieldtrip and will culminate in a conceptual design of restoration and revitalization.

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