Water, Aquatic Ecology, and Land-Water Linkages

This course will provide students with an understanding of water that will inform their professional approaches to landscape architecture, architecture, and planning, and contribute to protecting, improving, restoring, and sustaining water resources. Emphasis will be placed on both the science and the application of this science in designs for projects involving a wide range of interactions with water including coastlines, inland rivers and lakes, and urban stormwater. With ongoing global changes in climate, urbanization, and the use of water for energy and food production, the relationship between humans and water will continue to grow and evolve. Students will come away from this course with a better understanding of this evolution and how designs can account for hydrologic change and adaptation.

The semester will be broadly divided into two sections covering topics from local to continental scales and illustrated with examples and case studies from around the world:

Part 1: Land-water interactions. Background information and broad overview of water on Earth. Lectures and exercises in landscape hydrology, geomorphology, and water quality, especially in relation to urbanization and design. Hands-on exercises include watershed delineation, and hydrologic calculations to estimate runoff and groundwater infiltration and flow. Design exercise developing recommendations for stormwater best-management-practices/low-impact design (LID) for neighborhood in Washington, DC.

Part 2: Aquatic ecosystems and design. A broad overview of the characteristics and biota of flowing waters, lakes and ponds, temporary waters, floodplains, wetlands, and nearshore coastal waters. Emphasis on ecosystem structure and function as related to services provided to human societies, ecological effects of urbanization and other human land alterations, and pertinent design concepts and approaches for aquatic habitat creation and restoration/remediation. We will describe and discuss in detail the process of designing, permitting and implementing a range of river and wetland restoration projects, stormwater management BMPs, coastal and inland resiliency efforts, in both urban and rural environments. Weekend field trip includes hands-on field sampling and analysis of habitats and biota to assess and compare designed restoration sites with relatively unaltered ones and to develop design recommendations.

Evaluation: Based on class attendance and participation, short written assignments, quizzes, focused design exercises, and an individual semester-long project.