Sustainable Redevelopment of Fashion Square Mall; Creating a Network of Equity in Coastal City Infrastructure

Wisecarver, Annalee, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN, University of Virginia
Culver, Teresa, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia

Infrastructure is the backbone of modern society, and it is multifaceted. Infrastructure can be environmentally damaging, indirectly political, ineffective, and inequitable. This portfolio addresses these issues, as well as ways to solve the problems, through two separate projects: a technical capstone; and independent science, technology, and society (STS) research project. The two projects center around stormwater infrastructure and its effects on a community. Both projects involve planning for a greener, more equitable future, with the technical capstone centering on actual design and the STS research paper exploring historical background information and identifying areas for improvement. These projects cover different regions of Virginia, but the common theme of building a more resilient city runs throughout each report.

The primary objective of this portfolio’s capstone project was to redesign the stormwater management system of the Meadow Creek watershed to improve water quality. In doing so, the team considered other benefits of redesigning the system, such as climate change adaptation and social facilitation. One major aspect of the design was incorporating green infrastructure, which can improve water quality and reduce peak flows, as well as reduce the urban heat island effect. Green infrastructure also is more aesthetically pleasing and engages residents into the natural environment. To have the greatest impact on the surrounding Meadow Creek watershed, the team chose to focus on redesigning the Fashion Square Mall parcel. GIS was used to map out the layout of the design and calculate areas for each feature of the redesign. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Storm Water Management Model (EPA SWMM) and i-Tree were developed for the site so that hydraulic, hydrologic, and environmental analyses of the system. The final redesign was presented to members of Albemarle County public works department.

The STS research paper focuses on master planning, which involves identifying infrastructure weaknesses and deciding which projects deserve allocation from a government’s multimillion-dollar budget. In reference to stormwater, this process aims to create a city which is more resilient to climate change. For coastal cities such as Virginia Beach, these improvements are immediately necessary to prevent further storm damage. However, the process of choosing which infrastructure to improve is multifaceted, and the most vulnerable citizens of the city must be guaranteed the same protection as those with the freedom to move out of flood zones. This paper aims to answer the question: How can Virginia Beach create a network of equity through stormwater improvements? Weaknesses in master planning regarding equity will be identified, as well as considering the reasons why disadvantaged communities face greater risks from climate change. The elements of these systems will be analyzed using actor-network theory and technological determinism. These frameworks will be used jointly to identify stakeholders, physical systems, vulnerabilities, and their relationships to each other. A large stakeholder in the master planning process is the government, who funds most capital improvement projects. Considering the federal government’s recent interest in upgrading infrastructure, this research will be beneficial as all aspects of the United States’ built environment are reconsidered and improved. The results from this research will help future civil engineers create a more equitable network of infrastructure within cities. Strategies recommended in this paper will inform engineers of past shortcomings and methods to avoid these mistakes in future development and improvements.

The case studies and deficiencies identified during STS research are useful when designing a new system, as was done during the capstone project. Concerns such as community access and resiliency were key considerations for the redesign of Fashion Square Mall. The new plan for this space includes a transportation hub for equal access to amenities, and countless other considerations to make the entire layout more accessible. Climate change and the importance of planning ahead are also themes which run through each of the two projects. The longevity of projects in the face of climate change is a key concern which is addressed in both projects. The capstone presents a plan for remodel which can withstand current storms, but also more intense events in the future. The STS research shows that greater emphasis must be placed on projects that will have the greatest impact in the long run. The two project topics differ, but they are united through countless factors surrounding infrastructure, climate change, and equity.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
green infrastructure, stormwater management, equitable infrastructure, sustainable development, masterplan

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
Technical Advisor: Teresa Culver
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Neha Awasthi, John Gore, Burke Haywood, Shreya Moharir, Rachel Yates

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