City Creek Center

During a recent visit to Salt Lake City, I had some time to check out an upscale outdoor mall in the heart of the city. I typically dislike shopping malls, especially the indoor variety, but even many of the newer open-air types are trying too hard to duplicate quaint old urban streets (and failing). City Creek Center’s site, designed by the landscape architecture firm, SWA Group, has a different focus: celebrating a stream that historically ran through the downtown area, most of which is now buried underground. Each of two sections of this mall (divided by a city street) includes a recirculating water feature that represents a creek and flows along the middle of the shopping center’s walkways. The streams also meander in some places and turn to follow perpendicular entrance corridors, terminating with waterfalls at the connecting streets. A variety of fountains (including an interactive ground-level set of jets) can also be found along the pedestrian areas, combining with the creek to provide a pleasant water-centric experience. This is one mall that I actually enjoyed visiting – not to shop, but to hang out with an iced coffee and take in the sights and sounds around me.
City Creek Center 1
The streams include numerous footbridges, most of which are made of decorative metal, as shown.
City Creek Center 2
Native trout inhabit several areas of the creeks.
City Creek Center 3
The recirculating creeks flow along the center of the walkways. Narrow slot drains on each side of the stream catch runoff from rainfall (one of which is visible in this photo). I have wondered how the mall handles snow removal, however.
City Creek Center 4
A wider section of creek
City Creek Center 5
A fountain accents one of the central intersections of the mall. Water on its opposite side falls in a sheet off the rim, contrasting with the stepped edge on this side.
City Creek Center 6
Another interesting fountain at City Creek Center
City Creek Center 7
The site design takes advantage of the area’s sloping topography, with a waterfall flowing into the mall from South Temple Street.
City Creek Center 8
A recirculating waterfall also flows from the mall to the adjoining street south of the site.
City Creek Center 9
Nature-themed fencing and chairs adorn the sidewalks on either side of the street that splits the mall. These areas were designed as part of the project.
Photos by Alice Webb

An “Urban Glade” in Miami Beach

The Lincoln Road pedestrian mall in Miami Beach includes a relatively new addition: a block of water gardens that evoke Florida’s Everglades. The site was designed by the landscape architecture firm of Raymond Jungles, Inc., and construction was completed in 2010. The surfaces of the water gardens are raised above the surrounding pavement, and include many native plants such as Bald Cypress, Red Mangrove, and Pond Apple. The biomorphic shapes of the gardens and seats are juxtaposed with the bold linear pattern of the surrounding pavement, creating an interesting combination of urban and natural themes.
Lincoln Road Mall 1
The gardens include a variety of plants that thrive in or near water, with an emphasis on native vegetation.
Lincoln Road Mall 2
Islands in the water gardens – these ones include large Bald Cypress trees. I’m guessing that the surrounding water somehow infiltrates the soil in the islands from below.
Lincoln Road Mall 3
A “dry” garden with Live Oak trees
Lincoln Road Mall 4
The gardens are raised above the surrounding pavement – some more than others.
Lincoln Road Mall 5
Mosaic surfacing forms bold stripes in the pavement.
Lincoln Road Mall 6
Water flows over this pond edge into a drain for recirculation.
Photos by Alice Webb

RiverEast Center: A Sustainable Site

An example of a successful public-private partnership involving sustainable stormwater management is RiverEast Center in Portland, Oregon. The site includes numerous vegetated infiltration swales that filter and cleanse runoff from the parking lot, walkways, building roof, and adjacent public street. The swales were constructed at a gentle gradient to allow the water to readily soak into the soil, rather than be rapidly carried off to storm drains. Plantings, mulch, and stones cover all the unpaved surfaces; no high-maintenance turfgrass can be found on the property. The site also includes several recycled concrete slabs, set on edge, that serve as sculptural and functional elements. The office building is a renovated warehouse (with a new façade) that has achieved LEED gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

A vegetated infiltration swale is situated between a pedestrian walkway and the parking area. This walkway connects to a bicycle/pedestrian path along the Willamette River.

This infiltration swale is located between parking bays. A raised storm drain at the end of each swale takes in excess stormwater during heavy rain events.

Roof water from a building scupper is slowed by a gravel bed (edged with recycled concrete slabs) and is then directed through a slot in the taller slab to a vegetated infiltration bed on the left side of this photo.

During heavy rain storms, roof runoff that can’t entirely soak through the plant bed next to the building is conveyed through this walkway channel into an infiltration swale.

Stormwater from the adjoining public street is directed through several walkway channels into the adjacent infiltration swale on the RiverEast Center property.
Photos by Alice Webb