In the Duke University Water Reclamation Pond, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects designed a five-hectare, multi-purpose project that reduced the school’s reliance on potable water. The project won a 2018 AZ Award for Environmental Leadership.
When Duke University faced an infrastructural problem, instead of opting for a short-cut solution, it took on a holistic vision. The school decided to reduce its reliance on potable water by commissioning Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects to create a resplendent, multi-purpose landscape featuring a stormwater reuse pond.
What I love about this project is that Duke University took a stand and said, ‘Landscape is part of our future, not a box to check off.’ ” – Claire Weisz
Today, Duke Pond delivers up to 380 million litres annually – representing a fifth of the university’s water consumption needs – to the campus chiller plant. But the pond accomplishes so much more. What could have been a hole in the ground edged by rip-rap was instead imagined as an idyllic five-hectare natural landscape of bald cypress trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, and featuring a pavilion, a boardwalk and a bridge all constructed with lumber salvaged from trees cut for the project.
The school is now using the pond as research, monitoring it for classes in environment, biology, and engineering. The project gives students a stellar example not only of biodiversity, but of how community building and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand.
Duke University Water Reclamation Pond
Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (Charlottesville, USA) and Duke University (Durham, USA)
Thomas Woltz with Warren Byrd, Alissa Diamond, Evan Grimm, Tom Hogge, Mark Hough, Addie Pierce-McManamon and Kennon Williams