The Last Impervious Surface in Portage County Ohio


The Last Impervious Surface in Portage County Ohio examines the disjuncture between material boundaries and political boundaries; using the Portage County Spillway - a 30-mile long, 500-foot wide, 5-foot tall asphalt megastructure spanning Portage County - as a lens. A topographical intervention, the Spillway is able to redirect enough rainfall towards Akron to support 100,000 people per year.

The Portage County Spillway was rehabilitated by the Great Lakes Architectural Expedition to create a continuous public space for the entire county. With integrated supergraphics to enable satellite monitoring of water flows, the Expedition spearheaded a ban on the construction of further impervious surfaces county-wide to ensure equitable access to fresh water on both sides of the boundary.
The transformation of the Portage County Spillway was an early success for the Great Lakes Architectural Expedition - acting to mitigate unequal water conservation practices, and establishing an obligation to serve the interests of the public realm defined by the Lake Erie Watershed and straddling counties and cities.

Project Team: Anthony Selvaggio, Melissa Folzenlogen, Noël Michel, Sofia Kuspan, Kate Lubbers, Patrick Sardo

Photography by Stephen Takacs; Philip Arnold; and Galen Pardee



Galen Pardee is Drawing Agency: a design and research practice based in New York City.

Currently, he is the 2019-2021 LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at the Knowlton School, The Ohio State University. Galen holds a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University GSAPP where he received the Alpha Rho Chi Medal, and a BA in Politics cum laude from Brandeis University.

galen (at) drawingagency (dot) org

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Copyright Galen Pardee, 2020