At a Glance

Over 1,200 feet of stream were daylighted and brought back to life in combination with an integrated stormwater management strategy.

Project Description

The University of Virginia sought to be on the cutting edge of stormwater management. As a responsible neighbor to the City of Charlottesville, the University had a stormwater master plan prepared. The plan was unique in Virginia in that it addressed stormwater on a regional, rather than site-specific basis. Stormwater management techniques implemented at the Dell were part of an overall plan to minimize flooding downstream of the University grounds. This approach was the first of its kind to be approved by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The purpose of the Stream Daylighting Plan at the Dell was to provide water quantity and quality benefits and to refurbish a multipurpose recreation area at one of the “front doors” of the University of Virginia. Specifically, the plan addressed stormwater quality and quantity issues as part of a campus-wide regional stormwater master plan. It allowed for the preservation of a forested floodplain corridor downstream at the new basketball arena site and daylighted approximately 1,100 linear feet of stream channel through the site. The daylighting project provided improved recreational amenities such as tennis, basketball, picnicking, and space for informal lawn games. It also created an educational resource and learning laboratory for students in the School of Architecture and College of Arts and Sciences.

Biohabitats, in collaboration with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, restored The Dell to a natural condition so that it cascades into a precisely calibrated stormwater pond whose geometries reflect both the order of the University and the meander of the piedmont stream hydrology



Chesapeake/Delaware Bays

Physiographic Province




Expertise Areas

Ecological Restoration, Infrastructure, Urban Ecology, Water


The University of Virginia


Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Project Team
  • Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects