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 will be discussed throughout the semester, the course content will be discussed in the context of four primary project and research areas:
• Don River, Toronto – ~$1 billion urban redevelopment planned along the mouth of the Don River. Project involves stormwater, river flooding, lake fluctuations, aquatic ecology, river restoration design, native planting and invasive plant management.
• Water in Asia – through Nick and Tim’s experience in China and India, this will include the study of water resources, water conservation, stormwater/wastewater, urban rivers, loss of wetlands to farms and urban areas, flooding, hydropower, and ecology
• Washington, D.C. – low impact development, green design, stormwater
• Plymouth, MA – regional leader in urban river restoration and large-scale wetland restoration.

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.

Classes will be lecture-based with each class also including opportunities for discussion and hands-on exercises. 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. This ‘Ecological Seminar’ will be an opportunity for students to cross-pollinate with other studios and departments and receive critical and helpful feedback for their projects.  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 neighborhood in Washington, DC, and research and design exercises for river restoration projects. Attendance at two fieldtrips with hands-on field sampling will be mandatory:
• Weekend fieldtrip to Plymouth, MA – this two-day field trip will be early in the first half of the semester and will focus on dam removal and river restoration on the historic Town Brook in the heart of Plymouth. It will also focus on the award-winning river and wetland restoration projects at Eel River and Tidmarsh Farms. Field research techniques such as stream discharge, surveying, and grain size distributions will be completed at these sites.
• In-class fieldtrip to the Alewife stormwater facility – this will be later in the second half of the semester and will include a general introduction to the stormwater system as well as an investigation of water quality and the macroinvertebrate (bug/insect) life within the stormwater basins.

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