An environmental design plan addressing flooding issues in Conway earned the Green Good Design Award for Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture.
The Green Good Design Award aims to bring public appreciation and awareness to designs that emphasize sustainability and ecological restoration.
The award is presented by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum for Architecture and Design and will be exhibited in Athens, Dublin and Chicago later this year.
The Conway Urban Watershed Framework Plan: A Reconciliation Landscape addressed flooding, water quality contamination and property damage issues in Conway. The plan combines traditional approaches, such as storage tanks and rain bladders, with soft engineering, such as bioswales, infiltration zones, rain gardens, water-loving trees and other low-impact development technologies.
The three-year project was funded by a $498,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, administered by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and matching funds were provided from the City of Conway, Faulkner County, the University of Central Arkansas and the Lake Conway Property Owners Association.
The project was created through a collaborative effort between the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, which was led by Steve Luoni, and U of A Office for Sustainability Executive Director Marty Matlock.
Luoni is a distinguished professor in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. The Community Design Center is an Fay Jones outreach program.
"If we want to have resilient communities, and mitigate the effect of all sorts of forces, from climate change to societal stressors, we’re going to have to figure out how to work within human-dominated ecosystems and develop strategies where urban infrastructure delivers ecosystem services, in addition to the urban services infrastructure has always delivered," Luoni said.
Conway adopted the plan as a guide for future development. The plan provides an adaptive infrastructure that can be used by urban planners, designers, builders as well as property owners and aldermen.
Matlock said the plan brings soil conservation "into the urban system."
"It’s this notion that the softscape can be designed to do more than just grow grass and the hardscape can be designed to do more than just shunt water. That the two of those together could be integrated to create more effective water treatment and more effective water storage in the urban system — to create a more resilient urban ecosystem."
The framework plan will be published as a book by ORO Editions this summer.
The book will feature transferable technology other communities can use.
The framework plan previously received the 2016 American Architecture Award.