There is a place of tranquility on the Temple University Ambler campus where small groups students and faculty often gather during the warmer months to study, plan class work, or simple take a moment to "get away" from their busy day.
The Sustainable Wetland Garden, located on campus near the Widener Building and Cottage Hall, is a working demonstration of sustainable principles and management.
The wetland garden, the most recent addition to the Landscape Arboretum of Temple University Ambler, was recently honored by the Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). It was presented with the ASLA Honor Award "for outstanding professional design in the Landscape Architecture/Design Built Category" and the prestigious "People's Choice" Award for 2002.
"It certainly is a wonderful honor to be recognized by your peers. More importantly, it's wonderful to have this newest garden in the arboretum receive this recognition," said S. Edgar David, an associate professor of Landscape Architecture. "The project was selected from 25 submissions from landscape architecture firms throughout Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Virginia chapter of the ASLA juried the awards program."
Significant portions of what is now the Sustainable Wetland Garden began as part of Temple University's 1997 entry in the Philadelphia Flower Show. "The Green Machine," an exhibit detailing how created wetlands could be used for cleaning wastewater, won Best of Show for that year in the Academic Educational category. Temple again won Best of Show in the Academic Educational category in 2002, the first time the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture had entered a competitive class since 1997, for their detailed representation of "Green Roof Technology."
"After the 1997 Flower Show, students in the Design/Build Studio in the Landscape Architecture curriculum spent the following two years - spring 1998 and 1999 - retrofitting the exhibit for the sustainable wetland garden," David said. "They used the solar pergola, a wooden structure that supports the solar photo-voltaic panels and creates a garden room with a sense of enclosure. They also used the exposed cullet (recycled glass) paving."
According to David, the solar panels utilize the sun's renewable energy to power a pump that circulates the water in the central fountain to a created aerial aqueduct.
"The garden is entirely made of native species and comprises several diverse habitats. The wetland portion functions as a bio-filter - the vegetation and microorganisms filter out pollution that is generated from the surrounding buildings," he said. "The garden is a perfect expression of the integration of architecture into the landscape. It is a beautiful model of how the landscape can mitigate the detrimental impacts of our built environment."
The garden is also an excellent reminder of the hard work students and faculty put into its creation.
"For all of the students that worked on it as a Flower Show exhibit and as the existing garden, it creates a legacy," he said. 'It is a connection for our alumni to the campus and the University. To come back and see their work appreciated by current students, it is a great inspiration."