Reimaging the Future with Green Infrastructure Innovations
As we reimagine urban stormwater as an opportunity rather than a challenge, continuing to overload sewage treatment plants and polluting waterways, more cities have turned to green infrastructure innovations to effectively manage water and climate challenges. We have the opportunity to draw upon nature by mimicking the way nature collects and cleanses water. Advocates say going green is eventually a far more cost-effective method than constructing large wastewater treatment plants. Green infrastructure cost-effectively reduces sewer system overflows and manages storm water runoff, improves local water quality, decreases the use of potable water, reduces heat-island effects, improves public health, enhances recreational opportunities, increases employment, and stimulates economic growth—all at a lower cost than gray infrastructure solutions alone. The infrastructure process represents a major shift in the way we think about and deal with stormwater in Georgia, the Southeast Region and around the world. We’re recreating the living landscapes that once slowed, filtered, and consumed rainfall by adding green to our streets, sidewalks, roofs, schools, parks, parking lots and more—any impermeable surface that’s currently funneling stormwater into our waterways is fair game for greening.
You’ve likely come across green infrastructure without even realizing it. Green roofs and bioretention naturally absorb rainwater to reduce gray infrastructure’s load. Our unique green infrastructure techniques and experiences are creating environmental, social, and economic benefits that our neighborhoods and communities would otherwise miss out on. As landscape architects our role is growing in the current climate to aid nature and its systems in integrating and adapting to our urban environments, helping our cities flourish and become more resilient as well as empowering our communities towards better public health.
HGOR has long embraced green infrastructure approaches and our forward-thinking philosophy (SEE PhilosophySM) integrates social, economic, and environmental benefits while addressing water and climate challenges. Following are highlights of some of our recent developments.
Lowes Corporate Headquarters
The master plan for the Lowes Corporate Headquarters site revolved around a seven-acre lake that serves to support stormwater management in the form of a reservoir, as well as the creation of a space for wildlife to seek refuge. The lake was formed by the reimagining of an existing stream that ran through the site prior to construction. The creation of a lake from the existing stream delivered an opportunity to build a small dam, including surrounding waterfalls and wetland settings. The lake is stocked with fish and skirted by wetland plantings that help to improve the quality of the water through natural filtration processes. The implementation of natural systems such as wetland plantings mixed with stylized design in the courtyards and structured areas gives the site a natural feel, with the slightest formality given through open social spaces. The series of stormwater management and irrigation systems through water courses and bio-retention runs and basins all work in harmony to link the open courtyard areas with the outdoor spaces on the site.
City Place/Marie Sims Park
The complete rethinking of City Place/Marie Sims Park’s master plan - from product based to place based - transformed not only the surrounding site, adding substantial economic value, but has resulted in a positive influence on existing properties within the area and the larger community. The park design utilized a multi-tiered approach to storage - capturing the two-year storm and water quality within the lower wet pond and allowing major storms to spread out over otherwise usable space. Streetscapes throughout the development provide gracious walks and biodiversity of trees from street to street and surrounding the park.
We collaborated with the civil engineers and architects to shape the site plan and present a solution which greatly reduced the use of underground storm systems worked at Franklin Park. Design attention to stormwater resource management incorporates strategies that include fore bays, infiltration and bio-retention as both aesthetic and key environmental features. The site plan presented a solution which greatly reduced the use of underground storm systems. An interactive water feature between the first building and parking deck, designed to fluctuate between a series of interconnected pools which receive storm water from the surrounding buildings’ roof, parking deck and storm drains. The central pond collects all of the storm water from the surrounding road system and park, mitigated through designed collection forebays. The pond, designed to accept intermittent fluctuation in water level, is surrounded by a boardwalk, an event stage, casual moveable seating moments, and an interactive cascading water wall.
The 10- story office product and the resultant site density factors have allowed Franklin Park to deliver an urban transition in site development, creating a strong sense of place by which the development is built upon and establishing a civic-minded series of pedestrian features which improve the greater surrounding fabric.
Spring@8th – NCR Headquarter
NCR’s green roof is set between two towers on the sixth floor, which is packed with amenities. Access to green space improves peoples wellness and productivity. In a corporate environment – employees get a little reprieve, release their stress and feel stimulated and activated. As we plan our growing city it seems wise and forward thinking to take advantage of every part of our outdoor environment, on and around our buildings. Any planted medium on top of a building is a green roof. Initially, they were built to reduce rain runoff, cool the building to provide energy savings, or for aesthetic beauty. Their recuperated savings more than offset the higher initial cost than a traditional roof. And nowadays, we see the potential to design green roofs as an amenity for those in the building. More and more companies to be competitive in attracting talent and retaining their own talent are finding large value in creating flexible work arrangements, which is really about taking your culture and expanding it outdoors. To encourage more of these sustainable amenities, cities are implementing tax incentives, grants, density and zoning bonuses, fee reductions and expedited permitting.