Back to the Land: Green Stormwater Design for the Village of Midlothian

This project creates a new understanding of design in flood-prone urban landscapes in the Chicago region through re-engagement with the land. Rarely is the native (pre-urban) landscape and its extant soils considered a design “input” in green stormwater infrastructure planning and regulation in the region. Yet, through an investigation of native soils--and their range of infiltration potentials--an interdisciplinary team of students created a series of connected design interventions to absorb, hold, sponge, and filter the largest rain events--through the land itself. 

The project unearths patterns in the landscape and community that reconnect rain with the forgotten soils underneath urban pavements and fallow ground, transforming existing urban land conditions into radically functional hydrologic systems that heal fragmentations and disconnections.

Sited in the Village of Midlothian, a community just south of Chicago that experiences recurring flooding, the team of landscape architecture, geology, urban and regional planning, environmental sciences, and civil and environmental engineering students creatively developed a neighborhood-scale rainwater design project that integrates an understanding of soils as an essential material in urban (wet) resilience.

This project is one of two community design projects accomplished through research funding from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program (NOAA) 2018-2019 # NA18OAR4170082.

Team Members
Xuejing Li, Landscape Architecture, graduate Xi Liu, Landscape Architecture, graduate Yan Liu, Landscape Architecture, graduate Yuanyu Li, Landscape Architecture, graduate Kayla Myers, Landscape Architecture, graduate Yan Guo, Landscape Architecture, graduate Shuyu Yin, Landscape Architecture, graduate, Student ASLA Moazam Hakim, Landscape Architecture, graduate Jinyu Shen, Landscape Architecture, graduate Tony Heath, Urban, and Regional Planning, graduate Avery Clark, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, undergraduate Piotr Szocinski, Geology, undergraduate Reshmina William, Civil & Environmental Engineering, PhD candidate Gabrielle Bethke, Civil & Environmental Engineering, graduate

Project Credits
Co-PIs Andrew Phillips & David Grimley, Illinois Sate Geological Survey; Ashlynn Stillwell, Civil & Environmental Engineering; Margaret Schneemann, CMAP, IL/IN Sea Grant
Village of Midlothian, Illinois, with special recognition to Karen Kreis, Joe Sparrey, and "Floodlothian" members Helen LaKavich and Chris Parker
Kristine Ryan and Sarah Smith, Natural Resources Conservation Service ,
Paul Labus, The Nature Conservancy
Tony Sinkosky, 110CDCO