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Giving a home to the rain in a sea of asphalt— this artwork makes an urban prairie in a parking lot.

Topo Swale

Webber Court Public Parking Lot, City of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 2022

Funded by the City of Cuyahoga Falls, Mayor Don Waters and the National Endowment for the Arts, with essential and enthusiastic support for installation & maintenance from the City of Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Department.

Special thanks to Diana Colavecchio, Community Development Director, and Mary Spaugy Deputy Community Development Director, City of Cuyahoga Falls.

Support from Courtney Cable, Creative Director of Curated Storefront, Akron OH.


Excavated asphalt, soil, native plants, coir wattles

A series of swales cut into the pavement of the parking lot. These curving topographical lines were then dug out to a depth of two feet and filled with soil and planted with native grasses and perennials.


515 linear feet of swales, 30" wide and 24" deep in the southwest corner of the parking lot

So much of our urban flooding due to climate change is due to this simple problem: we have taken away the rain’s home. We have disconnected the rain from the ground with parking lots and buildings and even turf grass. This project creates an onsite art work that make a home for the rain. Rain-based artwork supports the need for infiltration in places like parking lots. Topo Swale for the City of Cuyahoga Falls is a project making the link between rain and the ground by opening up the asphalt of a city parking lot and making the surface rougher with vegetation and more connected to the soil below the pavement. These vegetated ditches create a micro-buffer for urban rainwater to infiltrate into the ground under the parking lot.


My art addresses the needs of rain. Though the art is not on a big enough scale to solve the problem, these rain projects bring to people a sense of how this issue could be resolved in their cities. Cities need to consider these small changes and make them part of the political design of infrastructure and honor the sanctity of the rain.

Photo: Tim Fitzwater

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