Jenna Bernabe

GIS Manager

We are pleased to announce that Jenna Bernabe has joined HW as our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Manager. Jenna earned her B.S. in Imaging and Photographic Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology and her M.A. in Geography with a concentration on GIS and Remote Sensing from San Jose State University. A Pittsburgh native, she grew up in Northern Virginia. Her internship at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency piqued her interest in satellite imagery analysis and motivated her to apply to graduate school where her passion for geography and technology came together. Her master’s thesis was a case study of urban heat island detection using Landsat data. Jenna has over ten years’ experience as a GIS professional and program manager with a transportation industry data services provider located in MA.

When Jenna is not working, she enjoys all that New England has to offer, exploring the outdoors while hiking, skiing, and spending time with her family and young daughter. Jenna likes to run and has finished a marathon in Newport, RI! She also enjoys getting out to local ponds and visiting Cape Cod to kayak with family and friends.

 

 

“As a manual for implementation this submission is very user friendly and does an excellent job of communicating to its intended audience. Information is presented via easy-to-follow icon language and technical data, and it nicely balances skimming and deep dives, providing immense value to the reader.”

BSLA Jury comments

 

About the BSLA Design Awards Program

Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) seeks to recognize excellence in the diverse practices of landscape architecture. Projects should demonstrate excellence and reflect the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environment. Awards may be granted in LANDMARK, PROFESSIONAL, and STUDENT categories, for design, analysis & planning, communication, and research projects. 

GSI Design & Implementation Guide Wins  Award

The Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) has awarded HW with a Professional Merit Award in Communications for the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Design and Implementation Guide  created for Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD).

Congratulations to everyone who worked on this Guide!  HW and our teaming partner, Brown, Richardson + Rowe, are honored to have collaborated with BPRD on the creation of the Guide.  This team effort included invaluable contributions from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission and the Trust for Public Land.

As climate change introduces new constraints and threats to Boston, resiliency has been identified as a city-wide goal.  BPRD is looking to advance the implementation of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) strategies to meet resiliency, livability, and health goals.  The Guide is intended to assist BPRD staff, as well as city agencies and consultants, to design, implement and maintain resilient, multi-functional parks that maximize benefits to park users and the environment.

The Guide includes distinctive key steps:

  • Defining and redefining GSI objectives with BPRD staff, partners, stakeholders, and volunteers throughout the project
  • Identifying the park contexts to understand all uses, allowing the layering of functionality and integrating, instead of inserting GSI into the park
  • Understanding and addressing maintenance requirements, expectations, and capabilities during the design process
  • Leveraging partnerships which can lead to additional funding for design and construction as well as shared resources and maintenance capabilities

View an example of a practice page from the Guide outlining considerations for designing GSI in parks.

 

 

Design Team Wins International Competition

Crook Point Bridge, Providence, RI
 

In 2021 the City of Providence received 80 proposals from around the world to design the reuse of the Crook Point Bridge. Of the 80, five teams were asked to submit more details. HW designers Jon Ford, P.E., and Ellen Biegert, RLA joined forces with Jonathan Harris, Urban Designer and Professor at Johnson and Wales University to create concept designs. These designs were shared with the public for comment in early April. In June, the city announced the winning team — Jon Ford, P.E., Ellen Biegert, RLA and Jonathan Harris!

*The winning design boards can be viewed here.


Recently we submitted questions to the design team. Enjoy a few questions below as we promote this important project and share some design inspiration!

 

Do you have a personal connection to the Bridge?

ELLEN – I bike, walk, or run past the bridge several times a week. I’m amazed at the changes in colors and feel that can happen from day to day on the rusted structure and the surrounding river. Even though it has had its fair share of abuse, the Seekonk River offers such a beautiful calm setting that it’s possible to forget you are in a city.

JON – Well I haven’t climbed it (yet), but for the last 15 years I have been part of a group of neighbors advocating for improvements to this stretch of the Seekonk River shoreline just north of the Crook Point Bridge. Access to the water is a huge resource to the people of Providence, and like many post-industrial cities, much of our coastline is hard to access and has crumbling infrastructure. We started advocating for green infrastructure and a watershed plan in 2007 and put a plan together for pedestrian/bike and shoreline resiliency improvements in 2016. We’ve been helping search for implementation funding since.

 

Did the design incorporate any elements of Rhode Island history/culture? If so, how?

ELLEN – There were elements discussed during the design phase that would help tie the structure and site into the history of the corridor as railroad tracks. This included train station seating and use of the railroad ties throughout the site. However, the structure itself and its location on the Seekonk River is the best connection to the past and depiction of change over time. We wanted to maintain the rusted look during the day to keep the ‘in ruins’ appearance against the river background to remain as a reminder of the changes we’ve made to the land. Incorporating the interactive/programmable lighting at night, connects us to the present with the opportunity to depict culturally relevant topics.

JON – On a personal note, the bridge is a strong symbol of Providence – history and culture. Physical elements of a neighborhood or city like this bridge provide people a connection to where they live that is hard to put your finger on but important in terms of their sense of belonging and pride. This bridge is like that for Providence, to the extent that it’s on t-shirts and it’s on postcards. Often when we work on neighborhood planning and urban design projects, we’re seeking to recreate these postcard moments, so when we already have them, we should celebrate them!

 

Love the idea of the lights illuminating the structure at night, did something inspire this concept?

JON – Living in the area we have a sense of how the bridge is a visual touch point – even without lights. You can see glimpses of it from so many locations on both sides of the river, in Providence and East Providence. You can see it from the highway and the Henderson Bridge. As part of our research, we did a photo study showing various perspectives and it was remarkable how visible it is. So, we thought that celebrating the bridge had to include creative and flexible lighting.

 

 

If the bridge structure is a beacon, what does it say?

JON – We thought it was critical, and honestly – obvious, that the bridge lighting design should be flexible and allow for various voices and perspectives to be expressed. We had some ideas – including interaction with the lighting system from the piers and the ability for the bridge to reflect nature such as tides or sea level rise. But it was most important to us to provide a canvas that could adapt. As a result, that will help show that the shoreline and this special place will be welcoming to all. We illustrated a few examples on the submittal, as there are so many possibilities!

 

The interactive LED’s that show motion below the bridge sound like a great idea. Are there any examples of existing structures with similar real-time sensors to give people an idea of what this may look like?

JON – I have always been inspired by the work of Herbert Dreisetl, a German landscape architect. His designs elevate to the level of art, and one I remember him presenting at a conference was a reflecting pool for a small German town square. The design uses microphones in the square that trigger vibrations in the pool based on ambient sound levels, and lighting is designed to project the ripples in the pool onto the buildings that enclose the square. So, the background lighting is more animated during the day, or when there are events, etc. – and calm when the square is calm. Also, visitors can interact with the space in a unique way. This bridge is obviously a bit different, but for me, the idea of finding different ways to project activity in a public space is linked to that.

 

 

What part of the proposed design are you most excited about?

ELLEN – This is a hard question as I am excited about many parts of this design.  If I had to pick, I would  say the community element.  Community engagement and interaction are components we tried to weave throughout the entire design. Having spaces that encourage neighbors to engage through lights or other interactive art elements, can encourage community building and promote play for everyone – something we could all use. Also, this past year has proven how important it is to have flexible outdoor space for community gathering, mental health and is vital for a healthy city.

JON – That’s a good question. Once the project is built, I think what will be most exciting for me is to see people of various backgrounds, ages, life experiences, enjoying the shoreline in ways they never have been able to. If this is built as envisioned, it will mean a lot of different things to different people, and I look forward to seeing that result! I also can’t wait to bring my kids there and see them running up the pier to see the bridge up close. That will be truly amazing!

 

I see fishing and kayaking mentioned. Can you discuss the challenges of creating waterfront access for multiple uses and how this design addresses those challenges in creative ways?

ELLEN – Finding space for people to interact with the river while balancing restoration and multiple uses was approached by layering the benefits of each component. The accessible ramp that provides access for kayak users doubles as the path for seating, so the dock at the bottom could be utilized as a stage for small gatherings. The pier includes areas off the center walkway with space for someone to set up a fishing line and stay for a while without feeling like they are being crowded out. These little niches would include areas for fishing equipment and poles but when not in use, would appear to be an overlook and blend into the rest of the usable space.

 

 

The design is super cool. I especially like the shout-out to bouldering as a potential use near the tunnel. Providence has one of the best bouldering sites in the area (Lincoln Woods) and there are at least 3 climbing gyms in the area, so this is a great opportunity to share the sport with folks who might not be able to access those other places to climb.  Are they proposing real boulders, or some artificial set-up?

ELLEN – Thanks! The back tunnel area has a lot of potential to become a unique feature and incorporating a use that people seek out is important for activating the space. Bouldering and climbing could fit this space well and having more locations in the city may help the community grow. As far as the specific material, there aren’t existing natural features, and the specifics for layout and material would be developed with the local community who would be using it, as well as balancing choices with other goals such as maintaining canopy and incorporating art elements.

 

Do you have any more details to share about the mixed-use housing (i.e., funding source, NGO; timeline, etc.)?

JON – We proposed the mixed-use housing as an aspirational idea for the City’s consideration. This idea will require more thought and discussion to become a reality! We included it because we think more activity will help bring more people to the shoreline 24-7, providing much-needed housing, helping to activate the public spaces, creating safety through having more “eyes on the street”, and helping generate tax revenue for the city. It will also make the public spaces livelier if they have commercial space woven in – like cafes, restaurants, and maybe even small-scale shops.

 

 

Who will be designing the art pieces that get installed? Will they be local?

JON – We think it should be a requirement that art pieces should be designed locally. There is great precedent for that with public art in the City via , Arts, Culture, and Tourism, the Avenue Project  and much more. That will be another element that defines the space that remains authentically Providence and welcoming to all. The process is to be determined, but it could also be evolving where pieces rotate in and out over time.


Ellen Biegert, Jon Ford, Jonathan Harris, Jason Rainone

green stormwater infrastructure

For Boston Parks & Recreation Department

 

Introduction

HW and our teaming partner, Brown Richardson and Rowe, are honored to have collaborated with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) on the creation of the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Design and Implementation Guide. This team effort included invaluable contributions from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). We thank BPRD staff for their time, resources, and dedication to this document.

 

GSI in Boston Parks

Considered the city’s first GSI project, Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace park system passes through many Boston neighborhoods. Olmsted’s brilliant stormwater management system has connected people to nature for over 100 years and serves as a prime example of the importance of incorporating GSI into parks and vice versa.

The types of properties managed by the BPRD are diverse and vary by scale, use, age, and surrounding contexts and communities. They also represent many things to those communities such as places to gather, play, exercise, recreate, and connect with nature. Such an assorted set of public spaces creates challenges as well as opportunities to create multi-functional parks.

 

5-Steps to a multi-functional park

Based upon information gathered from other municipal agencies throughout the country, the Guide uses a five-step process to assist BPRD staff, partnering city agencies, and park consultants, with the design, implementation, and maintenance of GSI. This will create more resilient, multi-functional parks that maximize benefits to park users and the environment.  

Key steps that help accomplish this goal include: defining and re-defining GSI objectives, identifying the park contexts, understanding the site and the benefits and maintenance requirements of various GSI practices, and leveraging partnerships.

 
 
Collaborative Process

We worked closely with BPRD staff, using information from BWSC and TPL, to prioritize GSI implementation in parks in every neighborhood.  GSI can help reach city-wide environmental and equity goals by improving climate resiliency and livability and health through promoting rainwater reuse and recharge, adapting to increased flooding, reducing urban heat islands, connecting people to nature, increasing green spaces, and improving drainage, water and air quality, and habitat value in parks all over Boston!

 

Click here for an example of a practice page outlining considerations for designing GSI in parks.

  

  

  

 

 

 

improving water quality in our local community

Town of Sandwich, MA

Rich Claytor, P.E., President and Sam Jensen, P.E., Engineer for the Town of Sandwich were featured in an US EPA Soak Up the Rain New England Series webinar entitled Clean Water on the Cape: Green Infrastructure in Sandwich and Yarmouth, MA.

The goal of the Sandwich project is to reclassify the harbor as fully approved for shellfishing. To achieve this, the Town and HW staff launched a multi-year Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration effort funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and CPR FY19 and FY20 grants.

The project led to the design, permitting, and installation of multiple bioretention and linear swale systems along the Town Neck Beach parking lot and Boardwalk Road, as well as three underground infiltration chambers, and four porous pavement and sand filter systems in the surrounding neighborhoods. These stormwater systems not only target bacteria in stormwater runoff from nearby parking lots, roads, and driveways, but also treat nitrogen and other stormwater pollutants, and reduce flooding.

EPA’s Soak Up the Rain is a stormwater public outreach and education program to raise awareness about the costly impacts of polluted stormwater runoff and encourage compliance with stormwater rules and requirements through nature-based solutions such as green infrastructure and low impact development.

Project Partners & Funding: Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project, Town of Sandwich, USDA, CZM, Cape Cod Conservation District, State of MA

Image provided by USGS

 Image provided by USGS

   Image provided by USGS

  

 

A rain garden guide for homeowners

By: Michelle West, P.E.

Michelle is a senior water resources engineer with more than 18 years of professional experience. With a background in both engineering and natural resources, she is passionate about using her skills to restore the natural world while improving the human experience.

Before we get started,  a few questions.

  • Have you joined the rain garden craze yet? 
  • Have you been inspired by an article, your neighbor’s rain garden, or our Rain Garden Wednesdays social media posts?
  • Want to do your part to improve your local water quality and wildlife habitat?

It’s easier than you think!

The two illustrations above, right show how “breaking the impervious chain” slows, cleans and reduces the stormwater leaving a site.

The bottom photo shows Michelle leading a rain garden workshop at Walton’s Cove in Hingham, MA.

What is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are actually very simple.  They are just shallow depressions – too shallow to even call a hole! – with plants.  But, rain gardens are not just isolated depressions placed randomly out in a yard.  They are specifically sized and placed to absorb stormwater runoff, the water that flows from your built impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, roads, parking lots, and even compacted lawn areas when it rains.  And that’s it!  Well, not quite, since rain gardens do take a bit of planning and physical labor, which we will get to in a bit.

 

 

   Why a Rain Garden?

What’s so bad about stormwater runoff?  Why all the fuss?  It’s just rainwater straight from the sky – isn’t that natural? 

Unfortunately, no.  All of those impervious surfaces that we built for our shelter and transportation prevent the clean rainwater from soaking into the ground like it did before we developed the land.  Dirt, fertilizer, soaps, oils, metals, and even animal poop build upon these hard surfaces and get carried away with the stormwater.  In addition to creating water pollution, when your runoff joins up with your neighborhood’s runoff, it can cause flooding and erosion, damage infrastructure, degrade aquatic ecosystems, and close shellfishing areas and beaches.  While runoff from just your home or business may not cause much of a problem, the cumulative impact from everyone’s home and business really does.

Rain gardens are one beautiful way to break the impervious chainof roof to downspout to driveway to road to stream, pond, or bay.  They use soils and plants to filter pollutants and help water soak in rather than runoff.  Please remember that rain gardens are NOT ponds or wetlands – they should drain in less than 24 hours after a rainfall. 

Download the file below to create one at your house!

 

Cross-section of a typical rain garden:

  

 

Click to Download: How to Build a Rain Garden

 

  

Saipan, CNMI

watershed assessments


Two years ago, several staff members had the opportunity to travel to Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The team mapped drainage infrastructure, assessed sources of pollution, and identified key opportunities for restoration within the Achugao, Garapan, and Lao Lao Bay Watersheds. 

The group inventoried age-old infrastructure from WWII, observed active construction today, and saw evidence of our future demand on the land.  While abroad, we talked with residents who told stories from decade ago, collaborated with consultants who shared our same concerns, and met with federal agencies to ensure our decision-making process fit the priorities of the people and the place.

Project Summary:

All three watersheds are impaired, exceeding one or more CNMI water quality standards. We assessed each watershed and identified solutions for land-based sources of pollution.   Sponsored by NOAA and the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, we worked closely with Koa Consulting LLC, Sea Change Consulting, and The Nature Conservancy to engage local organizations. We collected field data and mapped drainage infrastructure linking flow-patterns with key opportunities to improve water quality.  Our field teams and workshop facilitators gathered hundreds of data points; produced dozens of restoration concepts; and identified watershed management priorities, challenges, and visions.

Next steps will include  drafting watershed management plans to integrate different stakeholder’s priorities (e.g., on-going capital improvements, restoration efforts, road upgrades) and to balance economic growth with environmental integrity.  As a result of this work, we hope federal and local agencies can implement these watershed solutions to one-day meet the CNMI water quality standards.

HW Project Team:

Brian A. Laverriere, RLA
Josephine Ibanez, Environmental Scientist
Eliza Hoffman, Staff Engineer
Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA, Principal Landscape Architect
Anne Kitchell, Senior Watershed Planner

Project Partners:

The Nature Conservancy-Micronesia
-Berna Gorong 
Sea Change Consulting
-Meghan Gombos
KOA Consulting LLC
-Becky Skeele & Rob Jordan
Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality
-James Benavente

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
-Robbie Greene


 

Journey to the south Pacific, American Samoa

Geoff Glover, P.E., project Engineer

Geoff has seven years of professional experience as a civil/environmental engineer specializing in stormwater management, site design, grading and drainage systems, and hydraulic/hydrologic modeling.

 

“American Samoa, and the entire Samoan Archipelago, is such a unique and enchanting yet fragile place in the world, environmental protection needs to be a priority here…”

Talofa! (hello)!
7,641 miles, 18 hours, and 5 inflight meals. Getting anywhere in the South Pacific takes a bit of planning, whilst traveling back in time and sleeping at a 60-degree angle for as long as you can. In this case, I am headed to the main island (Tutuila) of the United States’ southernmost inhabited territory of American Samoa, a 50-square mile rugged volcanic land mass located 18 degrees south of the equator. 

Project Goal
The goal was to to educate and inform contractors and local agencies about the impacts of soil erosion that occurs during land development and how to prevent sediment traveling from a construction site to the ocean.

American Samoan islands, like many islands in the Pacific, are mostly surrounded by fringing coral reefs that protect the shorelines from wave energy that is constantly stirring in the vast blue void covering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. These reefs are vital for the longevity of coastal Samoan communities and their island history that has developed over the past millennia. Unfortunately, they are also extremely vulnerable to land-based sources of pollution like sediment from construction sites.

Arrival
Stepping out of the customs checkpoint at Pago Pago International Airport, I could immediately tell we weren’t in Kansas (Cape Cod) anymore. First of all, we were outdoors and immediately sweating and secondly, there seemed to be a large welcoming committee for the incoming travelers. With the only flights to and from the US on Monday and Thursday evenings, and the long distance from the mainland, the airport becomes a great place for impromptu reunion or farewell parties for many locals. But there we were, four pālagis (pronounced pah-lon-gee – native word for foreigner) navigating their way through the many Samoan families. Despite having just endured the experience of traveling halfway across the world with my head full of new information, there was still room for a couple of Vailimas (a local beer) before turning in for the first night.

Let’s Get to Work!

Over the next four days, we immersed ourselves in island culture and traditions, identifying locations of active construction sites scattered about the island, and engaging in MANY conversations – the main topic – soil erosion and the importance of sediment control.

We presented to a group of 20 local contractors from several different construction companies on island. While they were extremely knowledgeable about construction techniques on their island, engineering & problem solving, and typical sequencing of day-to-day construction activities – there was a lack of awareness of how best to both minimize erosion and control the amount of sediment leaving a site. Which is why we were there. Our expertise is in protecting fragile environments from the impacts of human activities on land, and we have been training contractors and inspectors about these important issues throughout the Pacific for over 10 years!

What’s Wrong With a Little Dirt?

During construction when natural vegetation is removed and the ground is disturbed, the newly exposed soil becomes highly susceptible to erosive forces when it rains. There are several factors on tropical islands that heighten this effect – total amount of rain (e.g., over 200 inches per year in parts of Tutuila!), rainfall intensity and frequency, mountainous terrain, and fine-grained soils. These factors can result in extreme amounts of sediment-laden runoff that can suffocate the downstream aquatic environment, in particular, coral reef ecosystems. The on-the-ground construction workers are often the last line of defense! Properly installed and maintained erosion and sediment controls can help reduce the amount of sediment leaving the site and protect this delicate environment. 

My Takeaway

American Samoa, and the entire Samoan Archipelago, is such a unique and enchanting yet fragile place in the world. Environmental protection needs to continue to be a priority here, including erosion and sediment control for construction sites. This was an extremely rewarding experience as we were able to transfer this idea and knowledge with the locals. On our final day, we received parting gifts from our trainees along with countless “Fa’afetai tele lava (thank you very much)” – truly a special moment. All the travel, long workdays, jet lagged mornings, loss of fluids (sweat, so much sweat…), and little bedroom critters were worth the opportunity to inspire a new fleet of “sediment warriors” on American Samoa!