Alumnae Valley Landscape Restoration
With the Alumnae Valley Restoration, MVVA reworked 13.5 acres of the Wellesley College campus. For decades after Wellesley’s founding in 1870, the site had been a pastoral glacial valley. But development choices during the twentieth century, including the construction of the college’s physical plant, transformed the valley into a toxic brownfield covered by a vast parking lot. Our 1997 Master Plan relocated the parking facility to a new garage, allowing the valley to become the locus of new campus development and a restored landscape that would complement the adjacent Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center.
The contamination of the soil caused many problems, each of which inspired a creative solution. Our design called for the removal of hazardous material and the creation of systems for in-situ treatment. For decades, the liquid byproducts of natural gas processing were collecting in the ancient watershed beneath the parking lot. Treating the toxic residue required importing pumping infrastructure.
A series of sedimentation forebays and basins now hold and process the site’s runoff water, which mingles with forbs, sedges, and cattails before trickling back into the adjacent Lake Waban. The restored Alumnae Valley is once again part of the hydrological system that created the classic Wellesley landscape—at once thoughtfully engineered and unabashedly picturesque.