Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)

Legacy Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Ellis, Cliff

Committee Member

Dyckman , Caitlin

Committee Member

Putman , Bradley

Abstract

Among the hierarchy of motivations, Maslow identifies the social as one of the levels that generates drive in individuals (Maslow, 1970). The urban environment is a place that has great opportunity for social interaction with design and planning of public spaces. Public spaces serve an important function in society and the design of these spaces can attract or repel a population. As specific elements are incorporated in public space and especially public hardscape design, designers should not neglect the issue of sustainability. According to the Brundtland Commission, sustainability includes the 'policies and strategies that meet society's present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' (World Commission of Environment and Development, 1987). Implementation of public spaces can provide for the current and future population's need for social interaction. In planning and designing these spaces the protection of natural resources must be considered for posterity. The urban built environment has had enormous impacts on the natural world. Multiple cities across the United States operate with a combined sewer and wastewater system. Use of this type of combined system creates the risk of overflow of polluted stormwater and untreated sewage into local rivers and streams during heavier rains (Paul & Meyer, 2001). Pollution alone due to runoff can be detrimental to the ecosystems that depend on local water bodies, but the additional risk of combined sewer systems and the dangers that can result in larger storms presents the question of what steps can be done to reconcile the urban environment with the preexisting natural world? Designers must consider factors such as stormwater runoff when creating buildings, streets and public spaces. Through water quality policies, enacted by the EPA, regulations have been written and implemented to reduce the pollution that is discharged into local water bodies. Stormwater management practices have been developed to not only reduce runoff, but treat the water as well. However, there is more than can be done with public spaces and their design to recreate natural hydrological conditions while creating an attractive and vibrant place. The impacts of impervious surfaces and stormwater have eye-opening consequences. According to the King County, Washington stormwater services, stormwater impacts include contamination of local water bodies, killing fish and harming wildlife, flooding, and potential groundwater shortages due to impervious surface (King County, 2010). Technology has improved and impervious surface materials have become porous pavements. This literature review will attempt to identify the state of the art in respect to public hardscape design, building materials and stormwater management practices. It is the goal of this research to discover how a new, more sustainable public hardscape can become the standard for design through the integration of stormwater management practices, effective use of permeable materials and thoughtful design.

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