Currently Chicago’s water infrastructure is designed to export all combined sanitary/stormwater out of its native, topographic watershed of the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River watershed.
This research takes a look the soil systems of the City, mapping surface and subsurface conditions, to locate intervention sites for local rainwater infiltration.
The aim of the research is to provide an understanding and visualization of the relational correspondence between surface and subsurface conditions. Landscape surfaces and thick-3-d models will demonstrate how the urban surface conditions affect water movement, and of the potential to convert that surface to promote infiltration deep into the geologic substrata. Through mapping and modeling analysis, we will identify 3-4 Test-Plot sites that will serve as preliminary locations for design conversion of pavements and other obstructions of the urban surface contact layer. These future surface conversion projects (DEPAVE SITES) will serve as design experiments, demonstration and research grounds.
The project aims to address an under-explored area of ‘green stormwater infrastructure’, organizing a series of urban surface conversions to promote infiltration of rainwater into the geologic substrata of the Chicago coastal realm. Such a project would be the first, large scale landscape project that keeps water where it falls, diverts it from the combined sanitary-sewer system, and promotes groundwater recharge and restored water flow to Lake Michigan.
As Chicago comes to terms with rebuilding its infrastructure for this century, streets are the obvious candidates for conversion to green stormwater infrastructure as the primary tributaries to the existing grey system. The complex and ubiquitous network of their linear arrangement provide a logical design approach in which we can introduce a surface-based systems-rebuild approach to managing rainfall across the entire urban landscape.
An example of a potential water infiltration corridor is Stony Island Avenue running north-south in the 8th ward of Chicago. The site is replete with pavement and sandy soils exist beneath the paved surfaces. The era of 21st century linear landscapes, created through the conversion of historic artifacts to newly defined ‘constructed-nature’ urban spaces, is still relatively new for the public realm, certainly ones that prioritize hydrologic function. But this is a positive direction for us to head.