By Josh West
For our Studio Design Project, located on the Westport site in Baltimore, Maryland, one of the biggest design issues is the northern part of our site is all under a flood plain and this issue is not one to just passover and hope it does not rain. The last thing we want in a design is for a heavy rain and half of our building we designed is under water. There are many different alternatives you can take when trying to design with a flood plain. Designers can elevate the building and the surrounding area, use a series of passageways to direct the water in other ways and can use the landscape to take in a lot of the water.
When elevating an entire building and the surrounding area, it can work to your advantage. While elevating, it can create a space underneath the building that can mainly be used for storage, services, the loading/unloading of material and can be uses for minimal parking for the staff working. This will also exclude traffic above ground and also around all of the pedestrains walking around. Also coming with this type of design, you can create some interesting things with your building and the surrounding spaces. Since elevating, you can almost create a beacon above ground level. This will not only create a lot of attention to everyone but it can be the driver in your design signifying to everyone that this is the place to be.
Another design strategy you can use is trying to distribute the water away from the site. This can be done a couple different ways. One way is to use a series of culverts to collect the water and in our case, push the water towards the bay area. This can help eliminate some of the water below ground and away from everything above ground. Secondly, you can design water to come through your site. This can create some design elements that can really push your design. By having the water come through your site, it can be a great interaction between the landscape, buildings and pedestrians.
Lastly, one could use the landscape to collect most of the water. By creating multiple green spaces and systems, it can create gathering spaces while also solving your flood plain issues. One of the best solutions is to create a rain garden with a holding tank to where pedestrians can use the space whenever they want and when it does rain, it will be collected through the rain garden system and then be distributed into the holding tank. Then later on the water can be used to water all of the plants and other reasons. By using this method, any site should be able to control the flow of water.