A Post Industrial Somerville: Urban Development with an Ecological Infrastructure

Presenter: Benjamin Greer

Research Category: Humanities and Arts
Student Type: Undergraduate
Faculty Advisor: Benjamin Greer
Award: Scholarship
Award Winner Category: Humanities and Arts

Statement: A new sustainable model of coastal urban development for mitigating urban runoff and storm surge events. æWith the incremental rise in sea level each year, waterfront cities must seek an alternative to the corrugated steel and infill condition flanking the majority of urban coastlines, and embrace a softer and more dynamic system of water control. This project proposes a new model for urban coastal development that couples natural ecological strategies with infrastructural elements to counteract storm surge and urban runoff contamination. This proposal uses the urban context of Assembly Square in Somerville, MA as a testing ground for this new model. æThe key move of the project is to eliminate existing harmful combined sewer overflows and reclaim more than 50 acres of derelict industrial lowland and convert it back to its original form as salt marsh. Salt marshes not only provide some of the most diverse populations of marine species in the ecosystem, but also act as a filter for runoff pollutants and a drainage system for the collection of storm water. The streets contain permeable paving and act as drains that carry contaminated runoff water to the marsh, which is then filtered and expelled into the river as clean runoff. æThe architecture is designed as a porous and working edge condition between the existing development and the proposed marsh, allowing the marsh to take on a new roll as an occupiable public green amenity while celebrating itself as an urban entity, rather than a hidden and introverted necessity.