Melissa Hope Matlins

Sponge Parks for Superfund Sites
May 7, 2009, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Design, Green, Sustainability, Urbanism

Brooklyn’s own Gowanus Canal is on the verge of becoming a Superfund site, pretty incredible since my friend was spotted paddling down the Canal in January, clearly at his own peril. The pending Superfund declaration has generated significant debate about how, exactly, the polluted waterway will be remediated. The industrial polluters that once lined the Gowanus are long-gone, but New York City’s own 19th century sewer system, which combines sewage from buildings with stormwater from streets, empties into the Canal and other waterways surrounding the city practically every time it rains. (It has been raining for almost a week straight here, so it’s on my mind.)

ARO Principal Stephen Cassell, and his friend Susannah Drake, Principal at dlandstudio, have a proposal for you – “Sponge Parks” along the Canal that will harness the incredible absorptive power of dirt and plant roots to capture water where it hits the ground, stemming the tide of stormwater that slicks our urban surfaces, building rooftops, sidewalks and roads. I have to admit, the term Sponge Park sounds pretty fun, a place that you might want to hang out in, enjoy the weather and such. It a significant improvement over the industry terminology of bioswales and rain gardens; the former sounding too technical and the latter sounding too age of Aquarius.

Via: WNYC Cityscapes project