Dendritic Decay Garden
Washington Avenue Green at Pier 53 on the Delaware River,
In collaboration with Biohabitats Inc. Supported by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation
The destructive power of plant roots is harnessed to create different ways to breakdown the remnant industrial hardscape of the park. Removal of the entire surface of the concrete and asphalt would have used up the entire design/build budget for the park, so we used the freeze & thaw cycles and the power of roots to do the job of decaying the concrete and asphalt over time. The native plants took three seasons to really grow in, supporting the adage for plants growth patterns during the first few seasons after planting: sleep/creep/leap.
The patterns of hardscape removal and planting depicts the watershed of the site and functions as a raingarden which allows the stormwater runoff to be captured and then slowly infiltrate the raingarden landscape, preventing it from entering the river.
Washington Avenue Green is the first of a long line of parks planned for the bikeway running along Philadelphia’s side of the Delaware. It is the beginning of restoring the shoulders of the river —bringing back the verdant biodiversity that once shrouded them before industrialization. This project does many things: it brings native riverine plants back to the shore, creates better stormwater management through rain gardens and swales, prototypes a series of floating wetlands; and as it grows, it will make a shady respite along a rather hot urbanized bike trail.