Policy and Place: A studio method to understand, evaluate and implement place-appropriate stormwater best practices to satisfy Clean Water Act requirements
Collett, B. P.  2012.  Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2012, Urbana-Champaign, IL, March 28-31, 2012 – Juried Abstract + Conference Presentation.

In a development marketplace and regulatory environment that is increasingly attentive to stormwater quantity and quality, it is advantageous for landscape architecture students to develop an evaluative process to identify appropriate, effective site stormwater management (SM) methods. In professional practice, decisions to implement low impact development (LID) SM methods such as rainwater harvesting, green roofs, permeable pavements, bioswales, bioretention, constructed wetlands and urban forestation are based on qualitative and evidence-based performance criteria. These criteria include relevance to regional and site stormwater issues, applicability given inventoried opportunities and constraints of a site, measurable quality and quantity management performance, code compliance and cost-effectiveness. This is consistent with the decision tree and performance matrix included in cited resources. The researcher believes students can recognize interrelationships between the sustainability of regional water resources and site SM that enables them to develop an informed evaluative process for selecting appropriate stormwater BMPs, and subsequently exercise that process to design multi-functional landscapes compliant with federal policy. To test this hypothesis, a studio was developed to foster students’ ability to understand and react to policy and place. The studio began with an exploration of watersheds as multi-scalar, nested landscape systems and a comprehensive inventory of hydrologic features, processes and cycles on native and post-development sites in East Tennessee. Special attention was paid to regional terrain characteristics, soil properties and native sub-surface geologic features, in addition to observed, documented and measured anthropogenic impacts of typical urban, suburban and rural sites within the Knoxville MSA. Subsequent research assignments focused on developing an understanding of hydrologic cycles, management capabilities, performance metrics, construction details, suitable plant species, common regulatory impediments, product technologies and costs of select LID SM methods. The inventory and research phases of the studio provided students with an understanding of place and toolbox of SM methods to retrofit urbanized sites. Clean Water Act quantity and quality requirements for the Knox County and City of Knoxville MS4s were used as required performance metrics for the design study in addition to addressing observed opportunities for enhancements to site program, function and aesthetic. Outcomes of the studio’s process-driven approach, including a BMP performance matrix consistent with research, multifunctional site designs that enhance landscape function, aesthetic and performance of existing urbanized sites, an understanding of the connection between site and region and policy and place-oriented recommendations for enhanced regional and site SM, in addition to researcher’s observations will be presented.