Design with innovation: Transforming an urban playa stormwater site



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Stormwater management in the Playa Lakes Region of West Texas historically requires that playa wetlands in city limits be modified to collect runoff from seasonal storms. These urban playas often serve a second function, that of an open space park. Design of these parks frequently lacks innovation in aesthetics and stormwater cleansing functions.

Creativity in stormwater solutions extends beyond the typical functional-only design. In cities such as Renton, Washington, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Gilbert, Arizona, stormwater and wastewater have been innovatively incorporated into the urban culture. This thesis explores an innovative solution for the Playa Lakes Region of West Texas that goes beyond what was discovered in the literature review. Design criteria are developed to transform Lake 87, a Lubbock, Texas urban stormwater management site, into an aesthetically pleasing, artistic, innovative site that integrates the history and nature of the area through native plantings and sculpture without compromising its primary function. The design also resolves increasing erosion through innovative best management practices (BMP) and landforming. This thesis investigates playa wetlands (Lake 87’s origin), urban stormwater function and management practices (Lake 87’s role in the community), aesthetic and artistic design solution case studies, and the role of art in society (Lake 87’s potential).

The innovative design solution for Lake 87 has a complexity that appeals to the senses so that different interpretations are possible. The design attempts to engage the participant by becoming part of the harmony and contrast that is present in nature. It is an exploration of an alternative in stormwater management.



Urban Playa, Innovation, Transformation, Design