Andrew Wright, MLA 2020, received a 2020 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Student Award for his project titled “The Siltcatcher: A Sediment-Capture System for Wetland Creation and Coastal Protection in Western Lake Pontchartrain.” Brendan Harmon, assistant professor of landscape architecture, was the faculty advisor.
Wright received the honor award for his landscape architecture designs to manage ongoing coastal challenges in Louisiana. “The West Lake Pontchartrain region in southeast Louisiana faces a number of long-term environmental challenges due to climate change and anthropogenic landscape modification, including shoreline retreat, wetland degradation, subsidence, sea level rise, and increased storm surge risk,” he stated.
“In response, the Siltcatcher proposes harnessing deltaic land building processes and sediment-laden discharge from the Bonnet Carré Spillway to create a system of self-sustaining armored wetlands in Lake Pontchartrain capable of keeping pace with sea level rise, providing long-term shoreline stabilization, habitat creation, storm surge mitigation, and recreational, educational, and community-building opportunities for nearby residents.”
“Over the last decade, Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain has seen its composition shift dramatically in the wake of several openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway, which releases floodwaters from the Mississippi River into the lake,” the 2020 awards jury stated. “Through extensive modeling and iterative testing, the designer developed a system of breakwaters and landforms designed to catch sediment and establish wetland habitats as a natural barrier against sea level rise.”
Developed using hydrodynamic modeling as an iterative design tool, the project fuses landscape architecture and civil engineering methodologies and demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary thinking. The resulting proposal reverses conventional narratives of erosion and loss and instead “creates a space where the life-giving poetry of deltaic land creation” could be witnessed, enjoyed, and celebrated.
Kevin Benham, assistant professor of landscape architecture, Mike N. Dooley, P.E. Professor, Clint Willson, LSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Robyn Reed, assistant professor of landscape architecture, were credited as project support.