Historically land development projects were designed with the objective of maximizing the built space within both the building footprint and the parking area, with little consideration given to much else. As the built environment has grown over the history of our country we have seen urban flooding events grow in both regularity and destructiveness.

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Now that land planners, engineers and architects have learned the negative repercussions of what too much impervious surface can do during a storm event, much care is being taken to ensure proper ecological storm water management tools are implemented in most new building projects.

Passive storm water capture systems like rain gardens, bio-retention basins, bio-swails and tree pits are all tools that prevent surface run off from leaving a site.  At the same time these features filter and clean the water and infiltrate it back into the natural ground water system.

These biological storm water capturing tools can actually enhance the aesthetics of the landscapes for the buildings and even qualify the builder for LEED Certification Credits.

Stormwater Basin containing custom designed Laurel Valley Soils at Philly’s Central Green at the Navy Yard

Central Green at the Philadelphia Navy Yard

The steady and methodical reinvention and redevelopment of the Philadelphia Naval Yard is at the center of Philadelphia’s burgeoning tech economy.  While the beautiful turn of the century campus provided a great canvas for new buildings and landscapes it also proved to have a host of challenges.

First, the entire landmass is man-made, built from river dredge and mainland soil spoils.   Mix in concern over soil contamination from the years the naval base was in full wartime operations, and the fact that below this less than desirable ground is a high water table containing brackish water, and the challenges of this site would have made many developers take a pass on the project.  But not Liberty Property Trust!  They saw the vision of this site, knew the potential and acted boldly.

In order to ensure a successful and functional landscape for the Central Green public landscape project, Soil Scientist Tim Craul was brought in.  He determined that higher quality functional soils were needed and would have to be imported to the site.  He specified a two-layer soil system containing a course drainage layer located below a finer, slightly more organic surface/planting layer. Together the soil layers work to support plant life, while also maintaining optimum soil moisture and filtering and infiltrating storm water.   Working closely with Tim Craul through a rigorous testing process, we were able to create and manufacture soils that met these criteria.

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Before and After by C. Caramanico and Son at Central Green at the Navy Yard

Our longtime client C. Caramanico and Sons performed the installation.  Over 3,000 yards of Laurel Valley custom soil was spread to create a six acre park-like setting integrated with a state of the art storm water management system.  This area, referred to as a “social space” is used daily by employees of the various Naval Yard businesses.  The landscape is a beautiful sanctuary for people to enjoy, play in, and unwind amongst aesthetically pleasing yet functional bio-swales and rain gardens seemingly hidden right before your eyes. The award winning landscape was designed by James Corner Field Operations, most recognized as being the Project Lead on NYC’s famous High Line, and is a wonderful example of what the future of urban storm water management is all about.

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