Imagine a smoldering late-August day on campus. The pavement radiates heat and you struggle to find a place to take cover from the sun. The walk from the Marriott Library to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts seems nearly impossible. You wonder what will come first: the museum doors or your poor body in a puddle on the walkway. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see something breathtaking: a tree, shrubs, greenery! The space is alive with color and excitement. And behold – a rock to sit on. You take the scene in. An oasis, a refuge.
It does not take long for you to realize that you are not the only creature taking refuge in this assemblage of habitat. Bees buzz around you, busy transferring pollen from flower to flower. Birds and insects swoop in and out. There are even a few other humans enjoying the space. A growing community of plants, pollinators, and Utahns.
And the best thing about it? It is not imaginary! The Green Infrastructure Pollinator Garden came to campus this spring. In addition to providing beautiful plants, habitat, and spaces for taking a break during a busy day, this space serves as an innovative solution for water management. A winding bioswale channels and retains stormwater as it runs off from neighboring sidewalks, alleviating pesky flooding in the basement of Planning + Architecture. Water-wise plants reduce irrigation needs while still providing benefit to humans and other species alike. Altogether, this garden is the ultimate package and a welcomed asset to the University of Utah.
The Green-Infrastructure Pollinator Garden has been featured in @theU.
For more information about the project and its impact at the University of Utah, please check out this video.
Concept and Design Details
A team of students and faculty applied for funding from the University of Utah’s Sustainable Campus Initiative to replace the lawn shared by the Architecture Building, School of Business, and University Museum of Fine Arts with a green infrastructure and a pollinator-friendly garden. Stormwater management in this area has been a challenge in the past, leading to flooding of the southwest corner of the Architecture Building during large rain events. With Campus Facilities tearing up the lawn to replace utility lines, the timing was perfect to propose a new design which could simultaneously improve the ecological, economic, and cultural impacts of the site.
For more information about the garden concept and proposal, please click here.
The Green Infrastructure Pollinator Garden mixes innovative green infrastructure and engineering techniques with the best in landscape design. This is a space that is not just beautiful, but also functional.
For more about the design of the garden, please check out this link.
The garden will undergo scientific monitoring which can help students and staff understand the successes and failures of the design. Since the University has been working to introduce more water-conserving fixtures and native water-efficient vegetation, the garden can help to inspire and guide future projects around campus.
PROJECT UPDATE: October 16, 2019
Be sure to check out the video posted above to hear from students and faculty who were involved in this project. Catch the garden in action! And learn more about how the garden came to fruition, as well as how it could inspire future ecological planning initiatives on campus and beyond.
Many thanks to all who were involved in bringing us the Green Infrastructure Pollinator Garden, and to those who helped to create this video.
The garden is already a great asset to this campus. But keep in mind that more changes are on the way. Check back often for updates!