Scott's Creek LID

Portsmouth, Virginia


Crisman+Petrus Architects designed a sustainable plan for a 22-acre underutilized industrial site on Scott's Creek in Portsmouth, Virginia. We worked with the Scott's Creek Low Impact Development Steering Committee, Elizabeth River Project, community groups, and the City of Portsmouth. Williamsburg Environmental Group engineers incorporated our recommendations into a Stormwater Masterplan that was implemented on the site. The success of the Scott's Creek Low Impact Development Plan led to our involvement in a second study to re-imagine a more sustainable future for the 80-acre Earl Industries Shipyard. The site is a transitional area between two adjacent ecological communities: the entirely impervious paved monoculture of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal and tidal estuary ecology of Scott's Creek. We collaborated with a brownfield remediation engineer and the City of Portsmouth to rezone the industrial property to a new overlay district. We also assisted the Portsmouth City Manager in educating his economic and planning staff about innovative environmental design strategies. This trajectory continued with support from an EPA Region III Land Revitalization Grant, when we collaborated with the Elizabeth River Project to create Sustainable Development Guidelines for the Elizabeth River Watershed.


The goal of this plan is take best advantage of wind, water, and solar flows across the site while amending or creating soils at the ground. Narrow-footprint buildings oriented to prevailing winds achieve natural cooling while rainwater is collected for landscape watering, on-grade filtration for release into the river, and evaporation back into the air. Buildings are also oriented for optimal solar heating in winter and shading in summer.

A mix of building uses across the 22 acres, including low and medium density residences nearest the creek, and commercial office space as well as light retail use (such as small restaurants and corner stores), promote the idea that this is a busy neighborhood with residents and workers occupying the area at all hours. Although the continuous riparian buffer along the river's edge functions as a planted water and pollution filter for Scott's Creek, it is incorporated into the strategic plan as a linear park, open to the public with walking and bicycle trails that may connect this neighborhood to the opposite side of Scott's Creek in the future.