At Wellesley College, the school planned a revitalization of an area called the Alumnae Valley. Over time, the valley had become the site for the college's physical plant, industrialized natural gas pumping, and a 175-space parking lot over a toxic brownfield.
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Managing the toxic soil involved several strategies: removing the most toxic soil, capping and collecting the mildly contaminated soil, and then reusing it as part of the landscape.
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The overall strategy for the Alumnae Valley included environmental remediation and sustainable stormwater management so the site could fit within the larger Wellesley campus.
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It took seven years of work bring the formerly toxic area back into a functioning landscape.
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Part of the design included the creation of wetlands around the former parking lot. The wetlands help manage excess stormwater, store excess carbon, and provide habitats for multiple species of plants and animals. Almost immediately after construction, meadows appeared and cattails sprouted along the water.
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Complementary to the paved walkways that connect key areas, a system of mown and woodland paths allow for meandering strolls along the marsh edge.
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The original landscape was shaped by ice-age glaciers. The mounds along the paths mimic the original sculpting of the land while storing remediated soil.
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The integration of topography, hydrology, and campus life brings Alumnae Valley back into harmony with its surroundings.
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