When I last covered the completion of the Nichols School Math and Science Building, the adjoining rain garden had not been completed. At the time, I was not aware of the significance of the feature, but upon a recent visit back to the school I discovered quite the eco-operation. The storm water diversion is brilliant. From the roof, the water flows to a downspout that empties into a gravel catchall. Due to the size of the roof and considerable amount of water that might normally be emptied into city drains, the rain garden is of substantial size. There is graduated land that creates a natural path for the water – taking it away from the building and into an eco-pond where it eventually seeps into the ground.
The rain garden incorporates a couple of neat and unexpected features. It is interesting to see that a sidewalk runs right through the water’s path (closer to the building). The water travels under the sidewalk – a feature that draws passersby right into the greenscape. Another feature that immerses people into the garden is the steppingstones that lead from one side to the other. This was the first rain garden that I have see that actually invites the visitor to come interact with the design, thus creating a learning experience that is taken away with the individual. Having an effective green educational component on a learning campus is key… in this case that key just happens to be green.
-Use of native plant materials, which require little more than natural rainfall to subsist;
-Use of roof-generated water to sustain the eco-pond;
-Re-use of existing trees and shrubbery in landscape design;
-Use of eco-pond feature to partially manage storm water.