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EMH&T Engineers Dream Big: Designing a Sea-Sized “Green” Parking Lot to Manage a Sea of Stormwater

The last in our series of EMH&T projects in recognition of Engineer’s week examines our work on the Green Infrastructure (GI) parking lot designed for Easton Gateway at the Easton mixed-use development.

When the Easton Town Center mixed-use development opened in the late 1990’s, it represented a completely new concept in the retail world. Not just a mall or just an open plaza, Easton was a hybrid of both designs and represented a new approach to combining the best of retail, office, and residential all within a single “lifestyle” destination.

Dubbed a “town center” with over 8 million square feet of shopping, dining, living, working, entertainment, and hotel space, Easton was the first major player in this new segment of mixed-use development in the U.S. and today attracts over 21 million visitors a year.
EMH&T has provided professional services to the developers of Easton since its inception. Our involvement, which continues today, has spanned the entire spectrum of development services, including site/civil engineering, surveying, stormwater and floodplain management, environmental, and traffic and transportation services for the public infrastructure and a vast majority of the development sites.

A destination of this type, in a suburban area, requires a lot of parking. At Easton Town Center, that need was met in a variety of ways, including surface lots and structured parking integrated into the facility design. But the Center’s latest expansion, Easton Gateway, features a new approach to the retail mix, encompassing “big box” format retailers combined with specialty retailers and a wide range of dining establishments in a modified version of the original town center format.

When designing the site for this large, 600,000-square-foot expansion, EMH&T had to provide the proverbial “sea of parking” to meet its parking needs. Due to the site parameters and the location of the structures in a ring around its exterior, we located most of the surface parking to the interior areas of the 54-acre site, providing the venue with a more engaging relationship to the adjacent original town center area.

However, a sizeable area designated for parking on the western edge of the site was located where a local roadway originally ran through the area. Due to the age and original design of the roadway, significant gravity storm sewer outlet constraints existed, which meant this section of the development was not capable of draining to a regional retention basin located in the far opposite corner of the site.

So EMH&T’s engineers dreamed big about how to solve this problem and chose a Green Infrastructure approach for the site design. Our solution used a pervious pavement area within this portion of the parking lot in order to manage the stormwater. This 4-acre permeable pavement parking lot allows stormwater to filter first into the void areas below the parking surface before filtering further down into storm chamber style holding facilities where the water can further disperse before ultimately releasing into the ground below the lot’s base. This permeable pavement installation successfully manages the stormwater volume of this parking area and is one of the largest such installations of its kind in the Midwest.

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