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Parking lots take up a great deal of the real estate in our built world. Most of the time, these expanses of concrete or asphalt remain unused by cars. Can we design parking lots to better job at sharing the landscape with nature?

Arkansas Rain Garden

Fayetteville, Arkansas, 2014


Thermoplastic, line striping paint, trees and shrubs, excavation



Here in Northwest Arkansas, a parking lot gives a home for the rain and a place to park.

A proposed project for The Walton Center for the Arts, Arkansas Rain Garden improves the relationship of urban grey to wetland green by slowing down runoff and allowing it to soak into the ground. Each year 46 inches of rain falls on all surfaces of Northwest Arkansas. Because the grey surfaces of roofs, parking lots and roads cannot absorb their own portion of the rain, they must quickly discharge the liquid. Through drains, pipes, and culverts, the rainwater is directed towards green, sponge-like streams and wetlands. Our gray areas are poorly connected to the green ones. Landscapes that depend on a slow supply of rainwater are instead given a feast and famine approach. They are overfed by huge amount of flow at each storm and then starved. This wreaks havoc for our local streams and urban landscapes. This garden captures the rain with plants and proper grading to allow the rainwater to slowly soak into the soil.

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