Duke Pond Earns National Landscape Design Honor

American Society of Landscape Architects lauds six-year old pond for function and beauty

A success as both a campus utility project and a beautiful addition to the landscape, Duke Pond was recently honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Photo by Mark Hough.
A success as both a campus utility project and a beautiful addition to the landscape, Duke Pond was recently honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Photo by Mark Hough.

In 2015, the Duke Pond was constructed as a way to capture the stormwater that drains off of part of Duke’s campus and use it in the nearby Chilled Water Plant No. 2. And by showcasing native plant species and creating a peaceful space for the campus community to enjoy nature, the 12-acre site has become a beloved part of campus.

And earlier this month, the American Society of Landscape Architects recognized the pond with one of its 2021 ASLA Professional Awards for General Design.

Duke Pond is a popular spot for the campus community to relax and enjoy nature. Photo by Mark Hough.“From the beginning, it was about a lot more than just the utility aspect of it,” said Duke University Landscape Architect Mark Hough. “You have the engineering about getting water to the Chilled Water Plant, which is great and sustainable, but it was really about more comprehensive look at how to create a campus space that was beautiful and also functional and the students could use it and that people could learn from.”

Duke Pond collects water from a 256-acre portion of Duke’s campus. Holding that water for use in Chiller Plant No. 2 reduces Duke’s reliance on municipal water sources. But that’s not the only sustainability advantage, as the plants surrounding the pond clean the water before much of it heads downstream, eventually ending up in Jordan Lake.

The pond is the second part of campus to be honored by the ASLA. In 2018, portions of West Campus, including Crown Commons and Abele Quad, were also recognized

The ASLA judges remarked that “what was once a neglected gully now serves as a functional catchment basin and pedagogical tool, transformed from infrastructural afterthought into a prime location for interaction with nature along the pond edge.”

“The fact that it was unique as a place, and a landscape, to Duke – we didn’t have anything like it – there was no guarantee it would be successful,” Hough said. “But I think time has proven that it has been very successful.”

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