Daylighting the Saw Mill River

The last time I was living in LA, I was working for the architecture and planning practice, EEK. One of my projects was master planning downtown Yonkers, New York. Now, five years later, the NYTimes has an editorial extolling the virtues of daylighting Saw Mill River aka Nepperhan Creek – the centerpiece of the ‘new’ downtown  a la San Antonio’s Riverwalk with a twist. That twist is a Minor League Baseball Park nestled into a bend of the Creek on the site of a former municipal parking lot known as ‘Chicken Island’. I spent several days siting the stadium (designed by others) a few feet north, or west, slight rotation clockwise, then twist the other way, until the optimum balance was found. This project is an interesting bit of urbanism that will have a positive impact on Yonkers for generations to come.

Daylighting is the term used to describe the restoration of a culverted stream by removing the culvert and exposing the water to the ‘day light’ now that streams are seen as an urban amenity. Back in the 19th and early 20th century, many urban streams were enclosed in pipes and turned either into storm drains or sewers for both sanitary and real estate development purposes. The daylighting process may require adjusting the elevation of the stream bed out of the historic valley, may be a partial restoration where some of the stream flow is day lighted and the rest remains in the culvert, or may be completely artificial with recirculated water (see the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul).

more on the project here, here, & here.

Semakau eco-park

An amazing bit of multi-functional infrastructure is situated a few kilometers offshore from Singapore – their landfill. Pulua Semakau [pdf] as the island landfill is known, is officially an ‘eco-park’ that has been open to the public since 2005.

[marine buzz] Semakau landfill was opened for public in July 2005 with following sightseeing attractions:

  • Inter tidal Walk: during low tide visitors can walk around to see the vast mangroves, seagrass, coral reefs, crabs, starfishes, sponges, shrimps and many other interesting flora and fauna.
  • Bird Watching: as many as 66 species of migratory birds, shore birds and forest birds can be seen on Semakau landfill that live on abundance of fish in the surrounding waters.
  • Stargazing: Semakau landfill offers a clear view of the skies for stargazing in a refreshing sea breeze.
  • Educational/Recreational Outing: An educational visit to explain the design, operation and process of solid waste management in Singapore followed by a tour of the landfill. After the educational programme, visitors have the option to engage in recreational activities, including fishing, cycling, barbecuing and camping.
  • Sport Fishing: sport fishing enthusiasts can enjoy catch and release fishing activities and as many as 17 different fish species including barracuda and queen fish can be sighted.

Learn more about the intertidal tours offered by the Raffles Museum.

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Fracture Critical Sewershed – part II

Thanks to the NYtimes, there are pics from inside the fired damaged ‘engine room’ at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant/Riverbank State Park.

Ignoring the pyrographic aspects of the pics, they illustrate the brute force engineering solutions that our society has relied on for too long. Complex engineering of systems tends to create systems that are fracture critical, the space shuttle is a prime example, as cost (and other design factors) prohibits redundancy and resilience. In contrast,  ecological systems of sufficient  biodiversity have the amazing ability to keep on going and to regenerate itself after a disturbance. Unlike engineering, as ecological systems get more complex, they gain in resilience.


Fracture Critical Sewageshed – Part I is here.