Urban Design and Rain Gardens

The phrase "The devil is in the details" has been attributed, most notably, to Mies van der Rohe.  What this is getting at is that whatever you do, do it thoroughly, and even the smallest detail contributes to the final outcome.  

This phrase popped into my mind as I was reading an article today on the atlantic cities website called 'Why Every City Should Be Planting Rain Gardens".

As urban designers, we need to be thinking about every level of design.  Getting the appropriate mix of uses, orienting them properly, making sure the scale of public and private spaces is correct, having appropriate traffic patterns, creating usable spaces, and a million other items pop into our minds, and occupy us as we get the big picture in place.  

That is all good, and we need to carry that down to the level of being sustainable, not only economically, but environmentally as well.  Great work is taking place in urban places regarding environmental sustainability, as the article points out. From Washington, D.C., to Portland Oregon and Seattle, great strides are being made to filter, re-direct, and get water back to where it belongs.

In Portland, their Green Streets program has reduced 80% of storm water runoff. That's a big number.  From the city, or the developers view point, rain gardens can also be very cost effective.  A Portland project discussed in the article had an initial estimate of $144 million for sewer upgrades.  Through a greener direction for the improvements, the city reduced the cost by $63 million.

By paying attention to the details, we can reduce environmental impacts, save money on public infrastructure, and to top it all off, create beautiful, green places for everyone to enjoy.

© tpg 2016