landscape architecture HOME
Subscribe | Magazine Index | Advertise | Subscribe | Search | Contact Us | FAQs
Land Matters
Editors Choice
Product Profiles
American Society of Landscape Architects


February 2005 Issue

Where the River Came Last
In San Jose, landscape architects were hired to do downtown flood control. The rest is history.

By Lisa Owens Viani

Where the River Came Last
Lisa Owens Viani

Larry Johmann and I watch as a long-armed excavator drops buckets of rock into terraced concrete steps along Contract Reach 3 of the Guadalupe River Flood Control Project. Contract Reach 3 is the last stretch of a costly—$234.6 million so far—and controversial project designed to protect downtown San Jose from 100-year floods. Begun in the early 1990s and to be completed this winter, the project was derailed in the mid-1990s when environmental groups rose up against the plan for the river—a plan originally designed by San Francisco’s Hargreaves Associates, adopted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and later added to by a succession of other landscape architecture firms.

Johmann, a civil engineer, canoeist, and director of the Guadalupe Coyote Resource Conservation District, and I are standing on the Coleman Avenue overpass in downtown San Jose looking north, or upstream, where we can see the river coming out of its twin underground bypass culverts. The river channel is a mass of concrete and gabions, from the low-flow channel cut by the Corps to the top of the bank. Johmann shakes his head and says, “This project was done without any thought to river form and function. Absolutely none.”

…To read the entire article, subscribe to LAM!

What's New | LAND | Annual Meeting
Product Profiles & Directory
ASLA Online



636 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001-3736 Telephone: 202-898-2444 • Fax: 202-898-1185
©2004 American Society of Landscape Architects. All Rights Reserved.