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景观中国 2020-12-30 来源:景观中国网

The Tidal Basin at Its Lowest Tide


Nature Based Solutions: An Ode to Yu


文章翻译自:Francis McGuigan from greensoap 




S: We leave a mark on places and those places leave a mark on us.

Of the grand and moving places in Washington, the Tidal Basin, more nature than monument, was always the place for me. I remember:


the first warm spring day in 1978, skipping high school classes for the day with a foreign exchange student, and meeting President Jimmy Carter on the banks of the Tidal Basin;a moonlit evening near midnight during medical school in 1984, parked in my old mustard-yellow postal jeep on the seawall with a girlfriend, who just returned for a few days from her work on a presidential campaign trail, looking across at the Jefferson Memorial and listening to Springsteen on the radio (won’t talk about the Cop);and one of numerous picnics during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival sitting under the trees with my three small children, Shannon, Kieran and Anlon, and Teresa our Polish nanny, everyone bundled in blankets while petals of cherry blossoms swirled like pink snow and the setting sun painted the sky in shades of orange and red over the Potomac.


The Tidal Basin left her mark on me.

Now, that beautiful body creates a very different impression; in part, because of the mark we left on her. Her infrastructure is crumbling. Flood waters, no longer controlled, overflow her banks at high tide and storms, leaving muck, debris and strangled cherry trees. Concrete barriers hastily installed after 9/11, still surround the Jefferson Memorial like blocks arranged in a half circle by a toddler. During the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, millions of tourists and Washingtonians unintentionally overload her with love marring her natural beauty.

Built by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding in the late 1800’s, the Tidal Basin was part a solution. The solution tried to control nature. Now, nature is making the solution a problem.






O: In 1912, three thousand cherry blossom trees, a gift of the Mayor of Tokyo, were planted under the guidance of first lady Helen Taft on the banks of what was then called Twining lake.

The present day Tidal Basin seawall and bridge were constructed in the 1940’s by the Iowa engineering firm of Alexander and Repass using an integrated workforce, an unusual situation in Washington at the time.



The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in 1943. The FDR Memorial opened in 1997. The Martin Luther King Memorial graced the banks of the basin in 2011. The Tidal Basin, part of the National Mall complex is under the direction of the National Park Service. The National Mall and its monuments are the crown jewel of the national parks with 29 million visitors annually.

The Tidal Basin and its monuments sit in a floodplain. Fill obtained from dredging the Washington Channel form its southern and western borders. Just like oceans, the Tidal Basin and the Potomac river experience high and low tides.




According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change in this region will generate higher levels of precipitation, more frequent and severe flooding, and a sea level rise of between 4.5 to 11 feet by the end of the century. The land itself is subsiding. During high tide and the swell from storms, water from the Potomac River submerges the walkway just west of the Jefferson Memorial. When the water subsides, it leaves silt and waste behind. Cherry trees in this area have already withered and died. Nature is re-exerting its supremacy.


Dr. Kongjian Yu, a Harvard trained architect, specializes in handling flooding problems in Chinese cities with nature based solutions. He believes in working with nature, not overcoming her with concrete. His concepts manifest in reality through hundreds of projects in cities throughout the world. He is redefining the space where land and water meet:


This October, the Trust for the National Mall and the National Trust for the Historic Preservation released the design concepts to the public for reinventing the Tidal Basin and its surrounding monuments. The Tidal Basin Ideas Lab contains the visions of five architectural firms for the future of the 107 acre site. It is worth taking some time to review the different interpretive, ecologic and creative processes behind each firm’s proposal(s). The estimated cost of the preservation is $500 million dollars, part of $11.6 Billion in deferred maintenance plans for the entire National Park System. In July, Congress passed H.R. 1957, the Great Outdoors Act that provides $1.9 billion a year for five years for deferred park maintenance. It is not enough.



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