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.

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