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Jane Amidon designs living cities

Jane Amidon, professor of landscape architecture

Amidon is at the forefront of a growing movement of landscape designers advocating that nature should inform design—an approach with very quantifiable benefits when it comes to offsetting urban pollution.

For example, an acre of wetland can store 1 to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater. And in one year an acre of mature trees can absorb the carbon dioxide produced by 26,000 miles of car travel.

Amidon also points to an example of what can happen when we don’t adapt a more environmentally sound approach to urban design: Tropical Storm Sandy, in 2011, during which the East River flooded parts of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, causing serious and widespread structural damage. If the urban coastline had been designed with river dynamics in mind, says Amidon, the city could have absorbed much of the water level rise and perhaps used that water to support oxygen-producing shoreline species.

“It’s about resilience,” says Amidon. “A city should ebb and flow like an ecological system.”

This post was originally published on Northeastern University: Making Tomorrow Happen.