Seeing “Green” around VCU’s Richmond Campus

Leslee Oliver By: Leslee Oliver

Sprinkled throughout downtown Richmond, which is home to the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, lives a number of successful “green” alleys, a term meaning these alleys are retrofitted with stormwater capturing, permeable surfaces and underground infiltration/underdrain systems. These alleys meet three important design requirements:

     • Historical aesthetics
     • Stormwater Management
     • Utilities Access

Retrofitting alleys with green techniques has proven effective at solving stormwater runoff problems in urban areas.  Alleys are often holding areas for garbage, construction materials and equipment, increasing the amount of pollution collected in stormwater runoff and carried to the James River and Chesapeake Bay.
This exciting project was one of the first applications of green alley stormwater management in a City within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The alleys were selected for their different physical characteristics and location in high profile areas susceptible to flooding.



Permeable pavement options were selected that would mirror the look of Richmond’s original Belgian block granite road and alley pavers (or cobblestone). They decided on interlocking concrete pavers as the obvious choice.

Timmons Group provided the expertise of its Stormwater Group’s staff for surface design (to improve pitch and grade of alleys and utilize a paver/concrete combination for flatter slopes and smoother transitions).   Our staff also assisted the DPU with public information meetings and demonstration projects.

By using permeable surfacing, these alleys were transformed into models for adopting green alley design as a standard, Citywide practice.