Anacostia Waterfront Trust Competition, 2nd Place

Team: Salvador Lindquist

The concept of swimming in a river with a reputation as tainted as the Anacostia is a challenging one. Long considered to be D.C.’s forgotten river, this waterway has suffered from a myriad of water quality issues resulting from rapid urbanization; trash, toxins, sewage, runoff, oil, heavy metals find their way across the highly impervious adjacent land uses and into the river through antiquated combined sewer systems. This year, the river only received a D grade from the Anacostia Watershed Society. While this is technically considered a passing grade, there is considerable progress to be made to achieve a “swimmable” designation, not to mention the monumental task of swaying the longstanding negative perception of the river.

This competition called for the assumption of a clean swimmable river, but what if this project could simultaneously improve the health of the river through productive sediment remediation processes while altering the negative perception of the river through interpretive, passive dredge theater, allowing visitors insight into the removal of sediment, toxins, bacteria, and trash through phytoremediation and rhizofiltration. As one of the major plants employed for phytoremediation, the sunflower serves as the basis and inspiration for the formal organization of the various programmatic and productive elements in this project.

Situated within an abstraction of two sunflower leaves, a series of sediment transformation modules, a deep pool, wading pool, splash pad, and flex lawn are organized into “cells”, referencing the geometric character of the sunflower cell structure. Within this organizational framework, PHYTOPOOLS not only provides a dynamic swimming experience, but also leverages the excess sediment in the Anacostia River as a fluctuating resource that could be utilized in the form of wetland restoration, brownfield remediation, construction fill, and landfill capping.