concrete water routes

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The Llano Estacado is an astonishingly flat terrain and home to playa ecologies as a natural system of water management. Within Lubbock’s city limits there are roughly 144 playas requiring the city water management introduce a system that negotiates between storm water channels and storm water pools.  Given the vast amount of built, paved and capped surfaces in Lubbock water channeling is an enormous infrastructural undertaking and one that leaves strong marks in this environment.  In any short heavy West Texas rain storm the city roadways become water routes where circulation briefly submerges under spontaneous pools.  In contrast the newly constructed future development areas of South and Southwest Lubbock is an example of investment in monumental water infrastructure with channels that range from 1,000 feet to 4,000 feet.

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Each water channel offers an alternative perspective back to the city through the recessed space, easily becoming a private area separate from the surrounding context.  As written in the earlier post, Shadow Landscape, these depressed channels change the street scale to widths expected to be found in the dense neighborhoods of San Francisco, Seattle or New York.  Given each paved water route reaches maximum depths of three to eight feet one can quickly disappear by dropping below the Llano Estacado horizon.  This impressive water route infrastructure is a refreshing spatial alternative to the storefront parking lots so often transversed in city environments.

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lubbock puddles

Lubbock, Texas has an average rainfall of 18.69 inches per year, only 2.69 inches greater than landscapes that earn being classified as a desert.  But when it does rain this concrete jungle becomes pocketed with pools and puddles.  The entire city holds a general cross sectional difference of 100′ inevitably leads the water to pool instead of shed.  Intersections become pools and the playas become lakes.

Impressively, the intersection out front of the TTU architecture building becomes one of the pools approaching 12″ deep along the street curbs.  People often take off shoes and wade across while cars create wakes or waves depending upon their ambition.

The water doesn’t stick around for long given the arid climate and frequent winds, but for the few hours after a heavy rainfall puddles and streams dot this usually harsh, windy and dry city.  Flat lands make for fantastic puddles.