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Operation Sagamore: A Realignment of Habitats and Urbanization with the Groundwater Lens

Collaborators: Manuel Colon-Amador, Phobe White

Role: Landscape Architect 

Status: 2012 Harvard Graduate School of Design Core Studio III 

Location: Massachusetts Military Reservation, Cape Cod, MA 

This project proposes to convert a contaminated, publicly inaccessible military site into a more porous, biodiverse landscape whose habitats, delicate ecotone environments and occupants will fluctuate over the course of time. The main operations of change revolve around revealing objects accumulated over the course of time, primarily through the detonation of hidden unexploded ordnances, the creation of new landform and ecosystem types, and the eventual expansion of water wells. Each of these elements ultimately works towards exposing the hidden Sagamore Lens and allowing the site to be more publicly porous.  

The Massachusetts Military Reservation is a territory in transition. It is a site that experiences a series of spatial, programmatic agencies and environmental confluences. The main occupants of the site are the Air National Guard, Air Force, Army National Guard, and the Coast Guard. Due to past military training operations including the firing of mortar and short-range artillery weapons, a series of contamination sources were created. Over the course of time, these layers of weaponry, urbanization, and contamination have built up and applied a significant amount of contamination into the largely unexposed and hidden water lens. This project seeks to focus and make apparent two major elements found on site: the unexploded ordinances and the Sagamore Lens.


Through a series of different disturbance types including excavations, transportation, and detonation we are projecting a regime of biodiversity that will fluctuate over time according to the gradients of disturbances. This series of operations will provide the opportunity to reveal a network of protected wells and vernal pools, allowing for a restructuring of the hydrological flows and provoking a new infrastructural and urban organization. Ultimately, this allows the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) to become more porous and align its operative agendas with local, cultural, and social agencies. 


Operation Sagamore seeks the opportunity to engage the Air Force and the Air National Guard to begin the remediation of the aquifer in order to utilize the Sagamore Lens as a means of urbanization, water distribution, and environmental curatorship. The vernal pools of the Sagamore Lens will reestablish a natural well system. Through a series of Unexploded ordnance (UXO) excavations and detonation disturbances, this project aims to render the flow of the underground aquifer visible and ultimately allow for urbanization.

Mockup of Stormwater Discharge Post Site UXO Detonation Operations 

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