Duke University Water Reclamation Pond

Durham, NC
(2010 - 2015)

To reduce reliance on potable water, Duke University engaged NBW to design a stormwater re-use pond to supply its chilled water plant. Capturing stormwater runoff from 265 acres, more than half of which is impervious surface, the pond has reduced the campus’s use of potable water by roughly 200 million gallons per year. Located between Towerview Road and Circuit Drive, the pond was originally envisioned in Duke’s 1924 master plan by the Olmsted Brothers.

The NBW design features a pavilion, boardwalk, overlook, bridge, and a nearly mile long walking path leading to an amphitheater with lawn seating. It combines functional infrastructure with beautiful and engaging civic spaces.

Through careful grading, the project saved as many trees as possible and used site-harvested timber for structures, decking, and handrails as well as for hardwood mulch for paths and plant beds.

Working with McAdams Civil Engineers, Duke Facilities Management, and the Duke University Campus Landscape Architect, NBW developed a pond edge planting palette that allows the pond water level to fluctuate depending on rainfall and demand while maintaining a lush, vegetated edge, increasing water quality and wildlife habitat around the pond. Strategic care was taken to create a sustainable landscape that is flexible, educational, and beautiful through the incorporation of a native plant palette with species ranging from emergents to upland.

Collaborators: Mark Hough, FASLA - University Landscape Architect, Duke Facilities Management, McAdams Company