El Camino Verde: Emily Lorenz, Heather Schmidt, Irene Pineda, Austin Young and Jordan Lawson MLA
El Camino Verde is a project addressing the hottest land plot in Tucson. It is so hot because the majority of the site is covered in impermeable surfacing, mostly asphalt and concrete. This causes serious runoff problems in the area including flooding and contaminating the Rillito River, located just north of the site. This site is massive, so Master of Landscape Architecture students Emily Lorenz, Heather Schmidt, Irene Pineda, Austin Young, and Jordan Lawson wanted to include options for the future, based on financial restrictions.
First, they divided the site into five zones, assigning each zone to a team member. In each zone, the student team implemented as many green infrastructure designs and elements as possible. The goal was to reduce runoff and keep water onsite and therefore increase tree canopy and decrease the urban heat island effect.
The first phase was the simplest and least costly and will reduce runoff by 10 percent. The design elements include curb cuts into green areas from the parking lots and streets, adding cisterns to collect roof runoff and water green areas during drought and adding more vegetative areas and terraced rain gardens to collect and purify water.
The second phase will reduce runoff by an additional 10 percent but is more expensive. These elements are creating pedestrian buffers between major roads and sidewalks to increase sense of safety and add more vegetation and create a place for the street runoff to go, building check dams to slow down runoff, replacing sidewalks with permeable surfacing, and adding solar panels to the roofs to produce energy as well as create shade for potential roof gardens.
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All images are by Emily Lorenz, Heather Schmidt, Irene Pineda, Austin Young, and Jordan Lawson and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission of their creators.