Date of Award

12-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

Major

Landscape Architecture

Major Professor

Brad Collett

Committee Members

Gale Fulton, Jon Hathaway

Abstract

The relationship between cities and streams has historically been one of conflict. Streams are dynamic systems that do not conform to the rigid physical boundaries that characterize urban development. Past solutions to adapt streams to the urban landscape included altering stream paths and confining them to concrete channels and pipes to control localized flooding so that valuable land could be used for the construction of buildings and infrastructure. The increase in impervious cover and the rapid conveyance of stormwater to receiving streams typical to urban development has resulted in the “urban stream syndrome”, a consistently observed ecological degradation (Walsh et al. 2005). Past urban development style and associated surface water management engineering solutions have resulted in the loss of stream hydrologic and ecological integrity, as well as the loss of a public amenity.

Many cities are beginning to realize the environmental, economic and social value of restoring their streams. Across the globe, buried streams have been daylighted and become amenities to city residents, catalyzing adjacent redevelopment. However, a stream is just one part of the overall urban hydrologic system. Without restoring the encompassing watershed hydrology, the outcome of stream restoration may not provide the expected flood mitigation, water quality improvement and other ecosystem services. Green infrastructure is a holistic approach to water management that, when its practices are employed throughout a watershed, is effective in mitigating the harmful effects of urbanization on streams.

This thesis investigates how an urban stream renovation can be the impetus for a new redevelopment regime that redefines a city’s relationship with the hydrology of the urban landscape. A water-centric framework employing the practices of green infrastructure throughout the watershed of Woolen Mill Branch in Cleveland, TN illustrates ways in which this urban stream can become a focal point around which future redevelopment within Cleveland’s downtown is organized. Simultaneously, multiple layers of benefits are provided including flood and stormwater management, improved ecosystem services, recreation, cultural connection and education.

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