Making Hydrology Visible
Using stormwater management as the basis of the design solution, landscape architects integrated ecological intentions into the often-overlooked landscape of the rural factory.
By Vernon Mays
Ron Anton Rocz
Making an exemplary landscape was never an intention of Herman Miller Inc. when it decided to build a furniture factory in Canton,
Georgia, but it was no accident either. Call it a matter of fate, perhaps, that
a progressive company, a persuasive architect, and an insightful biologist-cum-landscape
architect collided in the rural South to create a place grounded in principles
that others would be wise to follow.
The company purchased a 70-acre parcel near a pool of
available labor and an interstate highway about an hour north of Atlanta. The
characteristics of the site, however, were contrary to almost every desire from
a design standpoint. For starters, it was a hilltopósimply the wrong place to
begin for a building type that demands a sprawling, flat floor surface. Added
to that was the fact that streams ran along either side of the hill, and the
factory would have devastated them with its runoff from 330,000 square feet of
impermeable roof and 10 acres of asphalt.
Using hydrologic management as the underpinning of its
design solution, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) integrated
ecological intentions into the often-overlooked landscape of the American
factory, thereby creating a new model for low-cost, low-maintenance,
environmentally sound manufacturing landscapes.
The approach was not an entirely original idea, notes Matt
Urbanski, ASLA, the New York-based principal in charge of the landscape design.
He readily acknowledges the precedent set by Frederick Law Olmsted, who in the
late 1870s expanded the purview of the profession by taking on Bostonís Muddy
Riverís chronic sanitation problems. Defying conventional engineering
practices, Olmsted made the hydrologic system visible, redirecting the riverís
flow and restoring the areaís original salt marshes. Urbanski maintains that
MVVA simply extended the tradition of Olmstedís work with hydrologic systems to
a new project type: the rural factory.
…To read the entire article, subscribe to LAM!
| Annual Meeting
Product Profiles & Directory