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Infill Philadelphia's Soak It Up! Competition winners announced

This past Thursday at the Academy of Natural Sciences, three teams were awarded the top prize in Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up!, the widely publicized and much anticipated national green stormwater design competition. (Flying Kite previewed the contest in October.)
The event was a collaboration between the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), the Community Design Collaborative and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In all, 28 teams, 101 firms and 315 professionals from across the country submitted proposals that explored the potential of green infrastructure tools. Submissions came from places as diverse as Seattle, New York and St. Louis.  

Teams were asked to address the unique stormwater management challenges and opportunities at one of three Philadelphia sites. Each site embodied a different urban context and land-use challenge (industrial, commercial or neighborhood).

Submissions ranged from greening existing warehouse facilities to creating neighborhood-level EcoDistricts and tackling sewage overflow problems, to determining creative ways to green surface parking lots and large shopping centers.

Of the 28 entries, nine finalists were selected to present their entries to a jury and the public. The jury then selected three winners – one for each study area.
"We wanted projects that were innovative," explains juror Nathan Boon with the William Penn Foundation. "We also looked for submissions that could actually be implemented, ideas that can be replicated over many areas."
So many creative ideas came out of the exercise that PWD leaders plan to not only work with the winning teams but also the losing teams to make the designs a reality.
"Our expectations were far exceeded," says Joanne Dahme from the PWD. "It's given us so many new ideas for new ways to manage stormwater."
Over the next 25 years, PWD plans to spend $2 billion on green stormwater infrastructure improvements at varying scales across the city. Many of the competition’s ideas will be used as prototypes.

The three winners are as follows:
Industrial: "Leveraging Water + Plants in Zero Lot Sites," led by local firm Roofmeadow.
Neighborhood: "Greening the Grid," led by local landscape architecture firm OLIN.
Commercial: "Retail Retrofit," led by local firm Urban Engineers Inc. with Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects of New York. 

Source:  Nathan Boon, William Penn Foundation; Joanne Dahme, Philadelphia Water Department
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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