Form Based Code and Recovery of Hydrologic Function in Urbanized Watersheds

drbork's picture

We are a research team from Virginia Tech.

Our postulates:

Building more sustainable cities is a good thing
Much new re-development and densification is being based on NU principles
therefore,
NU principles should be capable of producing some form of environmental/ecological benefit

Question:

Can implementation of NU principles help recover/improve the critical functions of urbanized watersheds?

We are conducting an investigation of the ability of redevelopments based on form based codes to recover critical hydrologic functions in urbanized watersheds. Our interest in the subject was sparked by the Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan and related engineering studies stating that a 50% reduction in impervious surface would be needed to substantially improve the Accotink Creek corridor as it runs through the master plan area.

We have modeled the runoff from one portion of the site covered by the Boulevard Master Plan. Comparing the footprints of existing ground cover conditions to those proposed in the illustrative plan, no improvement in the function of the watershed is achieved by using a form based development footprint. That means that, in the Fairfax proposal, any watershed benefits would need to come from the internal detailing of architecture and site features.

We would like to compare the Fairfax proposal with some constructed NU developments to see if:

1) there are any significant differences in the characteristics of development footprint

2) NU redevelopment has changed the hydrologic characteristic of the resulting sites for better or worse

3) if for better, what adjustments or strategies, that may be transportable to other locations, have proved to be effective and cost feasible

So, who knows of medium to high density NU projects undertaken in former strip commercial or big box areas that have dealt with hydrologic functions of the site in some purposeful fashion?

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