Caño Martín Peña Comprehensive Infrastructure Master Plan gets award
The Caño Martín Peña Enlace Project – an initiative to rehabilitate the Caño Martín Peña channel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while addressing environmental, social and infrastructural challenges – received the Global Impact Award for its Comprehensive Infrastructure Master Plan (IMP). The project was selected from 87 U.S. and international entries.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) granted the first Global Impact award for excellence in landscape architecture for addressing climate impact with transformative actions that offer scalable solutions and align with the ASLA and the IFLA’s climate action commitments.
Both organizations, which count among their members landscape architects in the U.S. and those working abroad, based their climate action commitments on the United Nations’ recommendations.
“What is innovative about this plan is that it applies nature’s infrastructure to create a more sustainable, healthier and safer community in the face of climate change by incorporating community participation,” said Mario Núñez-Mercado, executive director of the Caño Martín Enlace Corp., a public corporation of the government.
The project’s IMP is a critical step in the process of implementing and refining the Comprehensive Development Plan, taking into account current conditions and anticipated future risks. An interdisciplinary technical team developed the plan to provide detailed guidance on achieving the goals and processes of the IMP.
“Once more, a global award recognizes the value of community participation in the planning process that goes into comprehensive infrastructure master plans,” said G-8 President Lucy Cruz-Rivera. The G-8 is the community organization that represents leadership from each of the eight neighborhoods to be impacted by the plan.
“Community participation contributes to strengthen communities and to design solutions that are in line with the surrounding realities,” she said.
Núñez and Cruz said the plan benefits a community of eight neighborhoods in which about 14,000 people live in the heart of San Juan, between Santurce and Hato Rey. It also helps restore the Caño Martín Peña, and the San José and Los Corozos lagoons, contributing to the San Juan Bay Estuary’s rehabilitation.
This restoration will create opportunities to appreciate nature, support ecosystems and reduce flooding, all while promoting recreational activities, tourism and economic growth, they explained.
With the award, Núñez and Cruz advocated for completing the projects in the master plan within the time frame allotted for use of federal funds, and leveraging the recognition to secure additional funds to complete the master plan.
“This is a critical issue, as several agencies are implementing sections of the master plan, and it is key for the individual projects to be seen comprehensively to be able to deliver the full environmental benefits and for the investment to be effective in protecting the community from climate change,” the representatives said.
The Comprehensive Infrastructure Master Plan was designed by Olin Partnership LTD, the Caño Martin ENLACE Project Corp. and residents of the eight neighborhoods between July 2019 and June 2022. The plan updates the Comprehensive Development Master plan for the Caño Martín Peña Special Planning District’s Land Use, which was designed by the community between 2004 and 2007, and subsequently approved by the communities and the Government of Puerto Rico.
“The Caño Martín Peña ENLACE project is one of the few ongoing construction projects in Puerto Rico that is actively addressing climate change in its plans,” Núñez noted.
The plan integrates green infrastructure, designing resilient systems to provide clean water, separate rainwater from wastewater collection, upgrade the electric power infrastructure, streets , pathways, public spaces and housing.