Urban Canopy: An Integrated Approach to Stormwater Management

Presenter: Avery Watterworth

Research Category: Humanities and Arts
Student Type: Graduate
Additional Authors: Van Vivian Nguyen
PI: Michelle Laboy
Faculty Advisor: Ang Li
Award: Innovation
Award Winner Category: Humanities and Arts

This project proposes a prototypical building type designed to mitigate and redistribute storm and flood water through an integrated structural system. The proposal operates in conjunction with a master plan created in collaboration with a group of environmental engineers for an interconnected stormwater management system that could provide a new coastal building typology for the South Boston waterfront district. By codifying building practices that emphasize water control, the project seeks to provide a resilient infrastructure for managing the emerging challenges presented by climate change such as catastrophic storm events and extreme sea level rise.

Drawing inspiration from the formal and biological composition of trees, this prototype consists of concrete umbrella columns designed to capture and channel rainwater into surrounding swales, channels, and marshes. While most buildings displace rainwater and create runoff, the funnel-like structures that make up the roof of the building are specifically designed to capture rainwater and direct it down through the columns into surrounding stormwater channels on site. The building aims to create a new urban edge embedded within the existing networks of green infrastructure already on site, thereby reinforcing the resiliency and value of its surrounding structures. The project proposes to restore and reinforce natural ecologies within the Seaport floodplain while at the same time generating new sites for public recreation for Bostonians.