URBAN DESIGN STUDIO II: The Regional Studio Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

[4]Group14 – Saturated Contours


The water that defines and surrounds New York is polluted due to the City’s constant fluctuation in
population and industry coupled with a dated and rigid wastewater infrasturcture. A striking and visible
portion of this pollution (“Waste”) is due to Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), which is the willful pol-
lution of bodies of water when the combined sewer system is overwhelmed after a heavy rainfall.


There are over 70 CSO events per year, each totaling approximately 1 million gallons of water.The storm-
water that contributes to these events flows to the rivers across bridges and streets, through residential
and industrial land.


While the City is making efforts at the policy level by integrating pilot programs and design initiatives,
the key to success for the alteration of the CSO situation is at the execution level with the focus on filter-
ing water at its source. We propose the introduction of constructed wetlands on underused land through-
out the City. Coupled with other sustainable stormwater initiatives, these systems will intersect with
existing flows of Water, People, and Use to engage the daily urban life of New York Residents. These new
systems will also soften the threshold between New York’s land and water as well as creating new areas of
activity, wildlife, and recreation.

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