UW landscape architecture students design new reef for Redondo Beach


The following story is courtesy UW News:

A UW landscape architecture student’s illustration of part of an artificial reef to be built at Washington’s Redondo Beach dive area. UW students are working with the state, the dive community and others to design a new reef to provide a healthy habitat for marine life.

What makes a good artificial reef, for divers, and for marine life? University of Washington landscape architecture students have done designs for a state-funded project that will replace the artificial reef at the Redondo Beach dive site.

They will present and discuss their work at a public meeting from 2 – 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, at the Highline College Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Center, 28203 Redondo Beach Drive South, in Des Moines.

The landscape architecture studio class is taught by associate professor Iain Robertson, with lecturer and landscape designer Brooke Sullivan, who is working on her doctorate at the University of Melbourne. Both are with the UW’s College of Built Environments.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources and dive community will be removing debris from the underwater location, one of the most popular dive sites in the Puget Sound area. This will include removal of toxic material, as well as small boats and even a long-sunken Volkswagen “Beetle” that have over the years become a habitat for much marine life. The work also will include removing abandoned tires from established geoduck beds to compensate for any habitat loss due to reef construction.

An artificial reef is a human-made structure generally built to promote marine life and to which organisms like algae, barnacles, corals and oysters attach, and which become habitat, and a food source, for fish.

Previous smaller, volunteer cleanups of the dive site have produced such items as knives, syringes, election yard signs and even an old road scooter, as well as, of course, a lot of fishing rigs.

The latest state capital budget includes $500,000 budgeted for the reef project.

“What makes a good artificial reef boils down to structure and complexity,” said Robertson. “A variety of different-sized spaces for marine life to live in, and suitable surfaces for marine life to attach to. Stability and longevity are also desirable.”

The seven graduates and undergraduates in the studio class have already presented some aspects of their designs and are now gathering those into a single group proposal to present for May 30.

The main client for the class, Robertson and Sullivan said, is the Washington State Scuba Alliance, but they consider the City of Des Moines and the MaST Center, from whom they have had involvement and interest, also as clients.

“And as landscape architects,” Robertson added, “we also consider the developing marine ecosystem itself as a ‘client.’”

The student designs, Robertson said, “combine the wisdom of science with the insights of art to create ideal reef conditions for the development of complex marine ecosystems and engaging diver experiences.”

The Department of Landscape Architecture has a long history of developing plans and designs for community groups throughout the region. Studios, Robertson and Sullivan said, are ideal educational environments for combining disciplinary research into real-world projects.

For more information, contact Robertson at 206-543-9246 or [email protected] or Sullivan at [email protected].



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