University of Florida – 9th Street Streetscape

Gainesville, Florida
Natural Healing

It may have been the height of the recession, but Gainesville was interested in investing in its growth. To do so, they asked us to transform a long-neglected area into an urban footprint that could support future development. One of the spots was on a stretch of Ninth Street.

The area’s storm water infrastructure couldn’t support a five-year storm and the state of Florida declared nearby Tumblin Creek’s water quality impaired. And “impaired” means E.coli, algal growth, noxious aquatic plants…you get the picture.

To solve the problem, we sold them on the idea of a bioretention area to handle excess water within a walkway that resembled a sweeping lawn with plenty of oak trees.

Low stainless steel rails would provide a refined outline of the vegetation spaces in this patchwork of chlorophyll and colored concrete.

Gainesville agreed on the vision and we set to work. So should you find yourself in the area now, take a walk through the streetscape. If you hit in the evening, you’ll be treated to a very loud chorus of frogs.

Ninth Street is designed to be the active center of Innovation Square, an urban mixed-use research district connected to the University of Florida.
A crushed slate plaza provides a shaded gathering space under a grove of iconic oak trees.

Nature heals. It’s the central theme of Innovation Square’s water filtration. How? By filtering and cleaning the storm water through the roots system of its vegetation.

Hundreds of thousands of native plants fill the area: rush, sand chordgrass, iris, and coreopsis. Its trees—cypress and oak—are poised to grow into great canopies for future generations.

And while the people of Gainesville now have a natural habitat to gather and move through, so does the wildlife of North Florida.

Project Team

Leo Alvarez
Micah Lipscombe
Micah Lipscomb