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Low Impact Development (LID)
Case Study

Boston locus mapOlmsted Green, Boston, MA

Olmsted Green, to be built on a portion of the former Boston State Hospital site, will construct housing units and occupy more land area than any project in the City of Boston over the past 20 years. It represents an opportunity to reconnect six urban communities and return a blighted state property to productive use. The project's developer is Lena New Boston, LLC, a partnership of Lena Park Community Development Corporation and New Boston Development Partners.

Aerial overview of Olmsted Green

Photo provided by VHB Engineering

Olmsted Green (outlined in red) is located adjacent to Franklin Park and Forest Hills Cemetaryand is southwest of downtown Boston,

The project is a 42-acre planned mixed-income mixed-use new construction project consisting of 287 market rate townhomes and condominiums, 153 affordable apartments, and 83 units of rental housing for seniors. This four year phased project will also include expanded programs and services including childcare, youth, and senior programs, a mental health rehabilitation facility, a four season athletic and recreation facility, a job training and education center, and an urban farm.

Olmsted Green plan

Photo provided by ICON Architecture

Olmsted East and West Campuses will be fully completed in four phases of development. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino broke ground, May 24, 2006.

 A Sustainable Development Project:

Olmsted Green's design is based on the principles of sustainability, conservation of resources, low impact development, and accessibly priced energy-efficient "green" homes in a community setting dedicated to inclusiveness and healthy lifestyles. Olmsted Green has worked collaboratively with the Mass Audubon Society's Boston Nature Center to preserve and enhance the environment on the project site and the adjacent santuary land. The campuses will feature year-round agriculture and aquaculture production, a small farm stand, and product market area. The City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development has committed $1 million in funding to the first of three expected phases of affordable rental development with additional funding provided through linkage funding by the City's Neighborhood Housing Trust.

Low Impact Development Design:

Rain garden cutaway drawing

Photo provided by VHB Engineering

Rain Gardens represent house lot size water treatment facilities and provide for retention from small storms,

Olmsted Green is taking a Low Impact Development approach that will significantly improve the existing physical site conditions, increase the infiltration of rainfall into soils and groundwater, reduce surface flooding, protect and enhance wetlands on the property, and preserve existing mature specimen trees. LID methods will include tree preservation, soil amendents to improve vegetative growth and erosion control, vegetated swales, rain gardens, subsurface infiltration, permeable pavers and pavements, and a Stormwater System Operations and Management Plan to keep these improvements effective over time.

Currenty the site conditions are mostly urban fill soils that are generally poor quality and contain some contamination laid over shallow bedrock and a high groundwater table. These conditions result in poor drainage and minimal infiltration of rainfall, wetlands that are surface fed, some downstream flooding and generally poor water quality in existing water bodies. Healthy significant mature trees and vegetation will be preserved and well maintained to help reduce surface water runoff as well as provide the calming and cooling benefits of a tree canopy.

Rain gardens and swales will be designed to capture runoff from frequent smaller storm events of 1-inch or less that occur year round. The rain gardens will both treat runoff and promote infiltration of rainfall. They will be designed to be incorporated into the landscape as natural features, will improve water quality of groundwater, and will maximize recharge in localized areas of the site. Overflows from the rain gardens will be directed to infiltration / detention systems designed for storage and peak flow reduction.

StormTech chambers

Photo provided by VHB Engineering

StormTech chambers store and release stormwater.

Stormwater Treatment and Infiltration Systems:

Olmsted Green will have an extensive integrated underground stormwater infrastructure that will facilitate the capture and slow release of water from more than 1-inch rain events including any overflows from rooftops drainage pipes and rain garden features. Underground "StormTech™" chambers will be located strategicially throughout the site thus avoiding the need for any big ugly retention basins. Permeable patio tiles and asphalt pavement will be placed in the areas of housing on the site where they can do an adequate job of infiltrating surface water in concert with the rest of the stormwater treatment options.

Stormwater System Operation and Maintenance Plan:

The success of the Olmsted Green's LID approach depends on proper construction, operation, and maintenance of all critical components. A detailed, readable, and user friendly Stormwater System Operation and Maintenance Plan document will stay on site and be an important resource for building and maintenance contractors. The Plan will include a maintenance summary sheet for each Best Management Practice (BMP), such as rain gardens, used on the site. The optimal Operation & Maintenance of each BMP will be described in detail with colored plans showing all locations. This will ensure that the BMPs will operate as intended over the long term and deliver the benefits they are designed to provide to the site and its future occupants.

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