Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden

Designers: Kevin Robert Perry | City: Portland, OR | Project Type: rain garden, educational, retrofit
Date Visited: 12.17.12

Locations: 5800 SE Ash Street, Portland, Oregon
Size: 2,000 sq. ft
CostL $523,000
Completion Date: 2007

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A literal transformation from grey to green, the Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden “is regarded as one of Portland’s most successful examples of sustainable stormwater management.”

The Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden ripped up sections of asphalt from its parking lot and replaced the area with a rain garden and bioswales as a way to deal with excess runoff in order to protect residents from sewer backups. This retrofit design solution earned the project a 2007 ASLA General Design Honor Award.

From the project statement:

“The 80-year old combined sewer pipes serving the Mount Tabor neighborhood are inadequately sized to effectively manage the amount of impervious area runoff generated from neighborhood buildings, streets, and parking lots. During intense rainfall events, the overload of stormwater entering the neighborhood combined sewer system will ‘push’ sewer water back into the basements of local residences. The City of Portland, dedicated to solving this problem, began working with Portland Public Schools to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of stormwater entering the combined sewer system from Mount Tabor Middle School.”

The cost of the constructing the rain garden turned out to be substantially lower than the alternative of replacing the local combined sewer system to protect residents from sewer backups.

Site Plan. Image Credit: asla.org

Typical Planting Scheme for the Mt. Tabor Middle School Rain Garden. Image Source: asla.org

I visited on a fairly rainy day–typical of Portland winters–the rain garden’s colorful and textured plant palette stood out against the grey, overcast backdrop.

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