Aurora Bridge Swales

Project Title: Aurora Bridge Swales
Landscape Architect: Weber Thompson
Category: General Design, Private Ownership
Award: Award of Honor
Location: Seattle, WA

The 1930-era Aurora Bridge, under which lives Seattle’s iconic Fremont Troll, is a symbol of American car culture. The first US bridge built solely for automobiles, an estimated 65,000 vehicles cross daily, sloughing tire dust and a myriad of toxins into the water below. The bridges’ runoff is the most toxic researchers have encountered, creating lethal conditions for the five salmon species that swim below the bridge during annual spawning runs. Cleaning that water was a primary goal of this project. The first-of-its-kind, the Aurora Bridge Swales incorporate terraces of native plants and soils on three sites along the public right of way. It functions as a natural filter and serves as a powerful example of private development’s ability to deploy a large-scale environmental response, approaching 100% effectiveness at reversing pollution’s impacts in a replicable model. This multi-pronged solution beautifies the urban environment, improves biodiversity, mitigates heat-island impacts, and improves air quality, while raising public awareness through community outreach and interactive educational elements.

View the full submission