In the pattern of tributaries, the blue roof gutters carry the storm water into the rain garden.


Springside School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


PVC pipe, glass pipe, native perennials, rainwater

32 feet tall x 41 feet wide

In collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society


This garden treats the storm water from the roof of the classroom buildings. The rainwater from each drain splashes into a stone or concrete runnel and flows down a graded bio-swale filled with native irises, creating a trail of blue flowers in the late spring. The water then flows into a planted infiltration basin and soaks into the ground. The swale slows the passage of the storm water, while the basin allows the water to seep into the ground. The art gives a place for rain to infiltrate and prevents the storm water from being expelled directly into the local creek. 

Every class from kindergarteners to seniors helped plant the native vegetation.

The rain garden slows the storm water and allows it to infiltrate into the soil rather than running directly into the storm sewer and eroding the local stream. Though rain gardens are difficult to perceive, the watershed pipe diagram catches the eye of people driving by.

The space was once an ignored pocket of eroded lawn, but is now an area for watching blossoms and seed heads and studying the ecosystem of a native wet meadow. It has created natural habitat for butterflies and other insects. The Springside Rain Wall and Garden celebrates the connection of rainwater to watersheds and makes rain an event to look forward to.

Stacy Levy_springside_diagram.png

This slow infiltration keeps the rainwater moving deeply through the soil, rather than running off the surface and flowing directly into the storm sewers. The project handles all of the runoff from the Science and Art wing of the building, allowing this part of the campus structure ‘to drink its own water’.

Some portions of the watershed pipes are clear glass to show the passage of rainwater through the system.

At the bottom of the wall, runnels carry water from the gutters to the ground. One runnel is cast concrete with blue and green broken glass from the bottles used during one of the project’s fundraisers. The other runnels are carved in repurposed architectural stones from the site.

The garden changes throughout the seasons.