remains of the Mississippi River Basin Model, Clinton, Mississippi
To ensure that topographic shifts would be apparent, the model was built using an exaggerated vertical scale of 1:100 and a much larger horizontal scale of 1:2000. While the existing topography offered a close approximation of the actual Mississippi Basin, some areas required significant earthmoving; the Appalachian Mountains were raised 20 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, the Rockies 50 feet. An existing stream running east-to-west provided the model’s water supply. The streambed was molded to take on the shape and form of the upper reaches of the Mississippi, and a complex system of pipes and pumps distributed water throughout the model; it was regulated by a large sump and control house sited near what would become Chicago, Illinois. To simulate flood events, Reybold needed to introduce large volumes of water over short periods of time, so he designed a collection basin and 500,000-gallon storage tower system at the model’s edge. Small outflow pipes at anticipated data collection points channeled excess water to 16 miles of storm drains.
Most important, the basin model acknowledged the river and its tributaries as the defining features of the landscape. Settlements, highways and railroads were all secondary to the force of moving water. Reybold demonstrated that the Mississippi River system acted continuously on many points in concert, creating a series of interconnected reactions more expansive and powerful than anyone had previously understood. He sparked an ideological shift among his fellow engineers, who had once believed that the river could be pressed into submission in order to maximize available land for human purposes. The basin model underscored the idea that not all landscapes could be transformed for development, an idea which had been lost during the frenzied period of levee building in the early 1900s. By acknowledging the true complexity of the river system, engineers could move beyond the localized approaches that had hindered flood control efforts in the 1920s and ‘30s. One person could take in the entire breadth of the Mississippi Basin in one panoramic view, and what emerged was the understanding that the river is a system, a network of continuous forces that creates unique but interconnected conditions. Each specific condition must be considered in the context of the whole.
via Places: Design Observer
a 200 acre hydrologic playground. i want one.