During a recent trip to Salem, Massachusetts, I visited a well-designed quadrangle within a new residence hall complex at Salem State University. A linear bioswale runs along one side of a large lawn area, collecting runoff from the complex, and cleaning this water before it enters a tidal marsh adjacent to the development. Stepped stone-filled gabions line the walkway along the swale, and are intermittently capped with wooden bench seating. Wooden ramps bridge the swale from the walkway, providing access to the lawn area. I think the juxtaposition of the linear architectural elements and the free-form planting design of the swale work well. Even in winter (unusually without snow on this visit), the grasses and other plantings provide visual interest.
Bioswale with adjacent gabions
Wooden bench seating caps portions of the gabions. A green roof sits atop the single-story dining hall (in background).
A row of ornamental grasses visually reinforces yet softens the line of this concrete wall, and attractive pavers complement the building colors.
Plantings along this building remain colorful in winter.
Photos by Alice Webb