The Toledo Shipping Channel is the most heavily dredged port in the Great Lakes. Each year massive barges haul up to one million cubic yards of mud and debris, scooped from the bottom of Lake Erie at the mouth of the Maumee River, to elsewhere in the lake and to confined disposal facilities. “A minor portion” of dredged material is “beneficially used,” according to a sediment management plan supplied to the Toledo Harbor Dredge Task Force in 2012.
That’s a missed opportunity, say some environmental advocates and landscape architects like Sean Burkholder, a professor of landscape and urban design at SUNY/University of Buffalo. In February he’s calling for entrants to the North Coast Design Competition to help re-envision Toledo’s waterfront. This year’s competition is called “Designing Dredge.”
Aerial view of Toledo’s waterfront. (Courtesy North Coast Design Competition)
According to the competition:
The city of Toledo is currently reconsidering a series of highly visible landscapes along its river waterfront. These sites are either undergoing construction due to the installation of large stormwater mitigation infrastructure or were small dredge storage facilities that have reached design capacity … The competition reaches out to designers and planners of all ages and abilities and calls for ideas that re-envision the role of the riverfront in Toledo and how this new role can embrace the realities of dredging while enhancing the overall quality of public space within the city.
Five sites along the Maumee, totaling more than 170 acres, are available for development. Competition entrants are also asked to design a Dredge Research Site for future research projects exploring the uses of dredge material.
About that material—it will be treated and trucked into the sites for landscaping, but the competition details warn its high silt content worsens its drainage characteristics and bearing capacity. Landscape Architecture Magazine has a Q&A with Burkholder about the competition and its implications for development across the Great Lakes region. You can learn more about the North Coast Design Competition at northcoastdesigncompetition.com.