Normandie Elementary School
Los Angeles, California
Through the state-funded Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS), Webster Middle School was one of the five Los Angeles Unified School District schools awarded a grant for low-impact development projects to be implemented over a 3-year period.
The California State Water Resources Control Board initiated DROPS to focus on projects that address stormwater pollution and improve water quality, conserve water, augment water supply, reduce greenhouse gases, save energy, and increase awareness of water sustainability at schools. The low-impact development projects not only work to accomplish the stormwater management goals of the school but also utilize outdoor classrooms and learning laboratories that incorporate into curriculum and activities to create experiences that go beyond the classroom walls. Throughout the entire design and construction process, students played an active part as this project truly became one for the kids and by the kids.
Located at the intersection of the I-10 and I-405 Freeways in the Ballona Creek Watershed, Webster Middle School retained the original drainage patterns from the 1950s era with surface drains to existing catch basins and an underground storm drain collection system.
Five areas were identified as opportune places to implement low impact development strategies where students and the community could gain the most educational and health benefits from natural stormwater management. These include a series of historic ‘finger’ courtyards between academic buildings that were paved with asphalt and the extension of turf play fields that flooded and drained into adjacent to homes.
Our design replaced the asphalt courtyards with trees and rain gardens that collect stormwater and roof drainage and provide restful green views to students in classrooms. In the field area prone to flooding, we designed a large biofiltration swale with native trees and shrubs that prevents stormwater from draining into neighboring yards and is a beautiful living laboratory for life sciences.
In addition to the internal campus improvements, the front walkway was converted into an entry plaza, and lawn was replaced with drought-tolerant gardens and shade trees lining a wide sidewalk for students and the community.
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles, California