At a Glance

Floating wetlands enhance the aesthetic, educational, and ecological value of a neighborhood that is reestablishing Washington, DC as a world-class waterfront destination.

Project Description

Washington, DC’s newly redeveloped District Wharf neighborhood is located along a one-mile stretch of waterfront on the Washington Channel of the Potomac River. Central to this vibrant waterfront community are 7th Street Park, a lush and energetic green space with plantings and a splash fountain, Recreational Pier, offering swings, access to the Wharf Jitney and kayak launch, and a beautiful fire feature.

In an effort to filter water flowing from outfalls along the wharf, Biohabitats collaborated with Clearwater Mills, LLC and Floating Wetland Solutions, to design, build, and plant an array of floating wetlands next to Recreation Pier.

Building upon a concept developed by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects (MVLA) and Biohabitats’ experience designing and maintaining various floating wetland systems, the team created more than 1,650 square feet of highly visible floating wetland habitat. While the wetlands pay homage to the site’s ecological history, their clean edges extend the new development’s modern design into the water. Their elliptical form, which echoes that of Recreation Pier and newly built elements within the park and pier, creates a sense of movement and flow. With an aluminum framework crafted by Clearwater Mills, the wetlands are durable, adjustable for varying conditions, and easily accessible for maintenance.

The wetlands’ native freshwater plant palette provides aquatic habitat below the surface of the water. Plants deemed unappetizing to waterfowl were specifically selected to help ensure the establishment and ongoing growth of wetland vegetation.

Floating wetlands not only provide aesthetic and educational value, but provide ecological benefits, including: water quality improvement by absorbing nutrients from the surrounding water; critical juvenile habitat for aquatic organisms under the wetland and amongst the root growth; as well as paying homage to the historic ecology of the water’s edge by restoring native communities.



Chesapeake/Delaware Bays

Physiographic Province




Expertise Areas

Design & Build, Research & Development, Urban Ecology


Hoffman-Madison Waterfront


Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Project Team
  • Clearwater Mills LLC
  • Floating Wetland Solutions
  • Wickleins Water Gardens and Native Plants