PROJECT TYPE

  • Campus
  • Brownfield
  • Re-development plan
  • University

Environmental Benefits

  • Captures Water
  • Cleans Water
  • Cools Air Temperature
  • Creates Habitat for Wildlife
  • Improves Soil Health
  • Prevents Soil Erosion
  • Protects Water Supply
  • Reduces Site’s Carbon Footprint
  • Reduces Urban Heat
  • Removes Toxic Chemicals

Links

From Brownfield to Greenfield

Wellesley, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
  • From Brownfield to Greenfield
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    At Wellesley College, the school planned a revitalization of an area called the Alumnae Valley. Over time, the valley had become the site for the college's physical plant, industrialized natural gas pumping, and a 175-space parking lot over a toxic brownfield.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Photo: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.)

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  • From Brownfield to Greenfield
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    Managing the toxic soil involved several strategies: removing the most toxic soil, capping and collecting the mildly contaminated soil, and then reusing it as part of the landscape.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Image: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.)

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    The overall strategy for the Alumnae Valley included environmental remediation and sustainable stormwater management so the site could fit within the larger Wellesley campus.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Image: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.)

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    It took seven years of work bring the formerly toxic area back into a functioning landscape.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Photo: Landslides Aerial Photography)

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  • From Brownfield to Greenfield
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    Part of the design included the creation of wetlands around the former parking lot. The wetlands help manage excess stormwater, store excess carbon, and provide habitats for multiple species of plants and animals. Almost immediately after construction, meadows appeared and cattails sprouted along the water.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Photo: Michael Lutch Studio)

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  • From Brownfield to Greenfield
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    Complementary to the paved walkways that connect key areas, a system of mown and woodland paths allow for meandering strolls along the marsh edge.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Photo: Paul Warchol Photography, Inc.)

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  • From Brownfield to Greenfield
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    The original landscape was shaped by ice-age glaciers. The mounds along the paths mimic the original sculpting of the land while storing remediated soil.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Photo: John Mottern)

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  • From Brownfield to Greenfield
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    The integration of topography, hydrology, and campus life brings Alumnae Valley back into harmony with its surroundings.

    ASLA Award of Excellence Recipient, From Brownfield to Greenfield: A New Working Landscape for Wellesley College Wrenched from its
    Toxic Past by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Photo: Michael Lutch Studio)

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Project Facts

  • The Alumnae Valley landscape represents the reworking of 13.5 acres of Wellesley College’s campus over a seven-year period.
  • The project transforms a 175-space parking lot that covered toxic dirt into a functioning wetland.
  • The original landscape was shaped by ice-age glaciers. Earth mound designs along paths mimic the original sculpting of the land while storing remediated soil.
  • Almost immediately after construction of the wetland area, meadows appeared and cattails sprouted along the water.