Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Gardens
The Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden project is unique to Portland and the United States in the way this schoolyard has been transformed to sustainably manage stormwater runoff. The project was designed by Kevin Robert Perry in 2006 while he worked at the City of Portland, and it demonstrates City’s commitment to promote a more natural approach to stormwater management. Many regard this “urban rain garden” project as one of Portland’s most successful stormwater management retrofit projects to date. In a collaborative effort between the City of Portland and Portland Public Schools, the Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden project converts what was previously 4,000 square feet of underutilized asphalt parking area abutting the school’s courtyard entrance into an innovative rain garden designed to capture, slow, cleanse, and infiltrate nearly an acre of the school’s runoff. Prior to the rain garden’s installation, the students and staff described the parking lot courtyard space immediately adjacent to their classrooms as an “asphalt oven”. Even on the mildest of days, the heat generated from the asphalt parking lot would send the temperature within their classrooms soaring. After a careful site analysis, the design team recognized several inefficiencies in the layout of the parking lot. By reorganizing the courtyard space, the design was able to provide sufficient room for a 2,000 square foot rain garden and an entry plaza with bike parking and student seating, while maintaining adequate parking for school staff. What is particularly unique about this rain garden project is that it is first of several stormwater retrofit projects specifically designed at Mount Tabor Middle School to help solve a chronic neighborhood problem of local basement flooding. The project received a 2007 ASLA Professional Award of Honor in the General Design Category and is often toured by national and international visitors.