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Bringing Stormwater Management to Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Site & Landscape Improvements to Kiely Hall Plaza, Rosenthal Library Promenade & Remsen Hall Forecourt

RDA Landscape Architecture, PC





Kiely Hall at Queen's College in Kew Garden Hills, Queens, New York, houses the campus administrative offices. The plaza was an expanse of older asphalt pavers that had settled and heaved over time. A dilapidated metal sculpture was removed from the center of the plaza, and a new central circle of permeable pavers installed. The center was left open for flexible seating options. Alternating swatches of decorative concrete and rain gardens extend into the plaza at various points to direct and collect stormwater runoff. The plantings are primarily native or indigenous to the New York region, including Pink Summersweet, Inkberry and Bearberry shrubs. Perennials and grasses include switchgrasses, aster, coreopsis and salvia.


Queens College, one of the largest of the senior colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY) is in Kew Gardens Hills, the borough of Queens. Just south of the Long Island Expressway, the 77-acre college, founded in 1937, is in the Flushing neighborhood in the north-central part of the borough of Queens. The campus is just east of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, just south of the Long Island Expressway on Kissena Boulevard, and bordered on the west by Mt. Hebron Cemetery.

In 2011, the Office of Green Infrastructure in the New York City Environmental Protection Bureau of Sustainability awarded one of 15 grants to Queens College to manage stormwater runoff in three areas of the Queens, N.Y. campus.

 




The three shaded areas represent the Queens College project site and landscape improvements: Kiely Hall Plaza, Rosenthal Library promenade and Remsen Hall forecourt. RDA Landscape Architects of St. James, New York worked closely with Queens College and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to develop green infrastructure stormwater management plans for the three areas.
Site plan: RDA Landscape Architecture, PC



New York City uses combined sewers to collect and carry stormwater runoff and wastewater. During heavy rain and snowstorms, however, the combined sewers and treatment plants can receive stormwater flow that is more than twice the design capacity. With treatment plants unable to handle such flows, a mix of excess stormwater and untreated wastewater discharges directly into the city's waterways at certain outfalls. This is called a combined sewer overflow (CSO). The city is naturally concerned about CSOs, because of their effect on water quality and recreational uses.

RDA Landscape Architects of St. James, New York worked closely with Queens College and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop green infrastructure stormwater management plans for Kiely Hall, Rosenthal Library and Remsen Hall. The projects were selected for funding because of their large expanse of impervious pavement that could be retrofitted with rain gardens and permeable pavers. The project eliminated 18,000 sq. feet of impervious surface from the campus, keeping some 730,000 gallons of stormwater from directly entering the Flushing Creek watershed.

 




A promenade walkway runs parallel to the south wall of the Rosenthal Library, leading to the parking structure at the west end of the campus. Five rectangular rain gardens intertwine with a sidewalk of scored reinforced concrete and permeable pavers present a linear procession of shallow drainage basins filled with gravel and plants. The plantings include 'Sunray' tickseed (yellow), 'East Friesland' meadow sage (purple) and 'Heavy Metal' switch grass.
Photos: Alvin Su



Kiely Hall Entrance Plaza
The largest of the three projects was the renovation of the entrance plaza to Kiely Hall, which houses the administrative offices for the campus, including the office of the college president. The plaza was an expanse of older asphalt pavers that had settled and heaved over time, and did not present a very welcoming first-impression. A dilapidated metal sculpture was removed from the center of the plaza, and a new central circle of permeable pavers installed. The center was left open for flexible seating during presentations and public events. Swatches of decorative concrete and rain gardens alternated into the radius at various points to direct and collect stormwater runoff.

 




The permeable pavers on site are 3-1/8-inch thick 'Eco-Ridge' pavers (Nicolock) set on a 2" setting bed of No. 8 stone over a 4-inch layer of No. 57 stone, over a 6-12 inch layer of angular No. 57 stone. The No. 8 stone was brushed into the joints between the pavers and provided the drainage channel for storm water runoff. The youthful trees are 'October Glory' red maples.



Promenade Walkway
The second project was a promenade walkway that ran parallel to the south wall of the Rosenthal Library and led to the parking structure at the west end of the campus. Rectangular sections of rain gardens intertwine with scored concrete and permeable pavers to present a linear procession of five shallow drainage basins filled with gravel and plants. This newly renovated area vastly improves the aesthetic transition from the western end of the campus to the library.

Remsen Hall Forecourt
The third project was the conversion of an asphalt parking lot located on the north side of Remsen Hall into a forecourt of permeable pavers and planted rain gardens. Four rain garden panels of gravel and plant material provide a transition from the campus quad up to the steps of Remsen Hall.

The rain garden cross-section consisted of 12''-18'' of growing soil medium over a 4'' deep layer of No. 57 stone over a 12''-18'' deep layer of No. 2 stone. Stand pipes were placed at periodic intervals 6'' above the rain garden surface and connected to the campus storm sewer lines to provide overflow in case of complete flooding. To illustrate how well these systems function, in early August 2014, Long Island experienced a 200-year storm that dropped 13 inches of rain in 12 hours, with little or no effect on the rain gardens and permeable pavers on the campus.

 




An asphalt parking lot on the north side of Remsen Hall was converted into a forecourt of permeable pavers and four rain gardens bordered by gravel. The rain gardens have 12-18 inches of soil over a 4-inch deep layer of No. 57 stone, which is atop a 12-18 layer of No. 2 stone. Two-ft. square catch basins (NDS) and stand pipes placed at periodic intervals 6 inches above the rain garden connect to the campus storm sewer lines in case of flooding. Nature tested the stormwater design on August 13, 2014. Long Island experienced a 200-year storm event that dropped 13 inches of rain in 12 hours. The permeable pavers, rain gardens, overflow piping and catch basins combined to handle the inundation.



The permeable paver cross-section consisted of 3-1/8'' thick "Eco-Ridge'' pavers (Nicolock Pavers) set on a 2-inch setting bed of No. 8 stone over a 4-inch layer of No. 57 stone over a 6-12 inch layer of angular No. 57 stone. The No. 8 stone was brushed into the joints between the pavers and provided the drainage channel for storm water runoff.

Plant material was primarily native or indigenous to the New York region and included shrubs and groundcover such as Pink Summersweet, Inkberry and Bearberry. Perennials and grasses included Switchgrasses, Aster, Coreopsis and Salvia.

One of the more important aspects of the project was how to deal with the edges of the rain gardens. "Originally, we specified raised curbs with scuppers, or cut-outs, but felt in these high-traffic areas, they could pose a tripping hazard,'' explains RDA Principal Landscape Architect Bob Retnauer. "We kept the rain garden edges flush with the surrounding pavement and ringed hem with gravel to slow the velocity of incoming runoff.''

Campus plantings included 34 trees and over 200 shrubs, which greatly improves the aesthetics and circulation corridors in, around and through the three campus plaza areas. RDA Landscape Architecture is currently working on a fourth green infrastructure project on the campus, an outdoor seating and dining plaza adjacent to the Dining Hall. Construction is slated to begin in fall 2014.

Project Team
Client
Queens College, Flushing, New York
• Dr. James Muyskens, President
• Dave Gosine, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Campus Facilities, Construction & Design
• Jorge Yafar, Assoc., AIA, LEED AP, Project Manager
Landscape Architect
RDA Landscape Architecture, PC, St. James, NY
• Robert Retnauer, RLA, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect
• Stephen Stritzl, RLA, Project Landscape Architect
• Steven Nieroda, RLA, Project Landscape Architect
• Craig Ingber, MLA, Project Designer
• Chelsea Andersson, Project Visualization
Landscape Contractor
Steven Dubner Landscaping Inc., Dix Hills, NY
• Steven Dubner, Owner
• Michael Mainland, RLA, Project Manager

Specified Materials & Vendors
Permeable pavers: Eco-Ridge Permeable Paver by Nicolock
Edge restraint: SEK-Surebond brick edge restraint system by Perm Edge







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August 20, 2019, 10:01 am PDT

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