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KNOXVILLE —Landscape architecture students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are partnering with the City of Knoxville to address challenges facing the region’s watersheds.

The students are researching, drawing site designs, and writing policy recommendations that address storm water quality and flash flooding. The goal is to improve the health of regional water resources and the communities they sustain.

They are working with Plan East Tennessee (PlanET), a regional partnership of communities building a shared direction for the Knoxville metropolitan area’s future. This includes Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union counties.

The effort is part of a $4.3 million grant given to the City of Knoxville through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

The UT College of Architecture and Design’s commitment to the project is valued at $1 million, an estimate based on students’ time, the college’s facilities, and faculty resources dedicated to the project through six graduate-level studio courses.

The students recently presented a study focusing on the polluted First Creek/White’s Creek Watershed in Knoxville, which will serve as a model for the region. They also proposed low-impact alternatives to managing storm water runoff and re-introducing natural water cycle processes on developed sites.

These solutions could be a way to reduce runoff, cleanse storm water, and promote aquifer recharge. Recommendations include rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavement, constructed wetlands, and rainwater cisterns.

Brad Collett, assistant professor and interim chair of the UT Landscape Architecture Program, oversaw the graduate-level studio course. Students leading the project are Phil Zawarus of Glendale, Arizona, Valerie Friedmann of Dandridge, Tennessee, David Dalton of Knoxville, Michael Payne of Old Hickory, Tennessee, Erin Tharp of Knoxville, Brandon Smith of Knoxville, Jessica Bundy of Parrottsville, Tennessee, Corrin Breeding of Athens, Georgia., and Justin Allen of Chattanooga.

“It’s important for our aspiring landscape architects to understand that site design decisions and development patterns have real implications at the regional scale and that their research and advocacy can be a catalyst for regulation and policy enhancement,” Collett said. “The Landscape Architecture Program appreciates the chance to engage our communities through the PlanET partnership. Such opportunities are of mutual benefit to our students, our program, and the stakeholders of the communities which we serve.”

The UT Landscape Architecture Program is the first and only one of its kind in Tennessee. It is a graduate-level, professional degree program offered through a partnership between the College of Architecture and Design and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Landscape architecture addresses the planning, design, and management of built and natural environments.

To learn more about the efforts of PlanET and UT students’ involvement, visit

C O N T A C T :

Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,