Drylands Design Conference Presentation, March 2012

The basis of both my design philosophy is that we need to cut our dependence on imported drinking water to create the scenic vistas that we see in Silver Lake. Soon, these bodies of water will be reservoirs in name only, as the Headworks Reservoir will make the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs obselete (for more information see the links/resources page).

We should start thinking of our community as a mini-watershed, or "microshed" in order to cut our dependence on outside water sources, like Owens Lake and the Sacremento Delta. In my original competition entry, I proposed gathering stormwater runoff and greywater to fill the reservoir basins, which would become a site for a native landscape. As rainfall varied, so too would the level of the water in this landscape, much like in a traditional arroyo, like Eaton Canyon in Pasadena.

As I developed my design, I realized that rainfall alone could not guarantee the vast expanses of open water that are an integral part of Silver Lake's environment. Concurrently, I realized that having open water in Silver Lake year round is a unique and precious quality that we should seek to preserve. By using a mixture of recycled water, rainfall, and groundwater, I propose a new hybrid landscape that preserves open bodies of water while enhancing wildlife habitats and open spaces.

Relating Silver Lake to the hydrology of the entire region is another aspect of my design. Before the development of Los Angeles, a network of rivers, streams, wetlands and meadows linked our neighborhood with Ballona Creek and the Pacific Ocean. If water from the reservoir basins could percolate back into the ground -- without impacting existing developments -- this project could be the catalyst for a sequence of parks and open spaces that would stretch across Los Angeles.

I am excited by all of the potential impacts of this research and design, but there is much more work to be done. I look forward to more opportunities to share my ideas and further develop my designs in the coming months and years.