Garrett Rock



Re-Frame Toledo

Re-Frame Toledo is a proposal to reimagine how a deindustrialized cityscape can become a highly active and engaging series of public spaces, mixed-use neighborhoods, and nature reserves that help benefit the local ecology. The magnitude in which dredge material is collected in Toledo can be seen as an enormous asset to the city. By incorporating phytoremediation into the dredge cycle and restoring a riparian zone, natural systems continuously clean water while restoring native habitats. Formerly the product of a manufacturing and infrastructural landscape, the riverfront can be reassembled with dredge material to delineate relevant urban and landscape context with the Maumee River.


Creating an ecological cycle

Years of industrial pollution and phosphorus contamination from fertilizers have rendered a polluted Lake Erie. Coupled with the fact that large quantities of dredge material must be returned to the lake bed each year, the dredge cycle can be seen as a useful means of water purification. Re-Frame Toledo incorporates a step of phytoremediation into the dredge cycle as an active means of cleaning the local water ecology. A series of dredge cleaning sites are established along the lakefront comprised of planting beds with native hyperaccumulators. Once the sediment is cleaned, the dredge material can be used within Toledo to redevelop the riverfront and create a riparian zone, as well as be placed in open water sites or transported offsite.


Reappropriating the riverfront

Once dominated by infrastructural and industrial landscapes, the vacated riverfront has the potential to embody the public face of a renewed Toledo.

Dredge material is incorporated into a series of new articulated topographies that instigate public space and urban ecology. A continuous riverwalk on the north shore links downtown with the Center for Dredge Research in a sequence of public attractions and connections to existing neighborhoods. The south shore is dominated by triangulated boardwalks that initiate views between the Marina District and downtown while encompassing new riparian wetland habitats. Once a large deserted swath of land in the center of Toledo, the Marina District is redeveloped into a lively mixed-use neighborhood with ample public space and access to the riverfront. The adjacent demolished Acme Powerplant’s remaining smokestacks are prominently featured amongst a phytoremediating poplar grove as an intersection between Toledo’s industrial past and sustainable future. Finally, a new access bridge integrates both sides of the river more freely for cyclists and pedestrians.




Contouring dredge topography

The sheer volume of dredge material gathered in the vicinity of the Maumee Bay—some one million cubic yards annually—can be partially used to reconstitute the river’s edge.
In the renovated Northriver neighborhood, a progression of stepped landscapes joins the river to the city with vibrant public space (see at left). In low-lying areas with lesser urban context, the riverwalk becomes detached as the topography reestablishes a riparian wetland zone to filter water and sustain native ecology. The south shore is similarly articulated with dredge material; surface parking is buried by an elevated green roof in International Park, while a linear boardwalk and wetland habitat define the edge in the Marina District.


Sustaining ecological systems

The creation of an extensive succession of riparian wetland zones at the river’s edge benefits the flow of the Maumee River into Lake Erie (see at left). Northwestern Ohio was once home to the Black Swamp, a great expanse of wet prairies and marshes that sustained a unique ecosystem while filtering water runoff. Drained to reclaim farmland, the region has lost an important network of ecological functions. For the three CDF sites—Riverside, Penn 7, and Penn 8—a series of topographic ridges and depressions along with strategic native plantings helps recreate the lost landscape typologies of the Black Swamp. Two such typologies, the deciduous lowland forest and freshwater wetlands, are prominently featured to the public by a sequence of elevated walkways and boardwalks (see below). These Nature Reserves also manage water runoff, passively filter the Maumee River, and control the water table during seasonal flooding.

One of the primary functions of Re-Frame Toledo is to grant more public access to the water while also instilling knowledge of local ecology and the dredging process. As previously mentioned, the Great Lakes Center for Dredge Research provides an important function in the phytoremediation of contaminated sediment. The Center also acts as a public forum and gathering space, a multimedia exhibition center, and a research facility (see at right). In addition, its pivotal location joins the end of the Riverwalk from downtown with the Nature Reserves constructed from dredge material.