Seattle Landscapes

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    Mark Simmons

    I’m heading to Seattle next weekend and would like to visit some interesting landscapes. Any suggestions?

    Lisa Town

    oh yeah, I can help you out here…..let me compile a bit of a list which I’ll post soon. You’re gonna love Seattle!

    Mark Simmons

    I look forward to it!

    Lisa Town

    Seattle Civic Center
    This is a complex of three blocks in downtown between James and Cherry and 3rd and 6th. It is south of the Bank of America tower. The first two blocks, the Justice Center and the City Hall are completed and the last piece, the Civic Square Plaza is being designed right now (I’m on the design team for that at Atelier Dreiseitl, it’s gonna be cool!). You should visit the already built projects and view the nice water features by Gustafson and varying levels as the whole projects steps down amazing grade changes.

    Seattle Public Library
    The Rem Koolhaas building of glass that hangs over the street. It’s cool to go through each floor. Make sure to explore all the nooks and crannies. The landscape though is not too steller.

    Pike Place Market
    Not only is this a place all Seattle visitors want to check out but for a landscape architect it is good too. Wander down Post Alley, see how everything opens onto the alley. Admire the shared street atmosphere. Continue down the hill to Victor Steinbrueck Park. If you get a chance, check out his sketches of Seattle and Pike Place Market in particular in a bookstore or on the web. This is a great little space which one day will hopefully be the beginning of a great waterfront connection.

    Benaroya Hall to the Harbor Steps
    Start at Benaroya Hall and visit the amazing Murase-designed Garden of Remembrance. This is, to me, one of the most well-designed small spaces. This is the epitome of tranquility in a space so small that it shouldn’t seem like an option. Admire the beautiful Murase trademark stone work.

    Move further down the hill towards the water past the Seattle Art Museum and towards the Harbor Steps. Notice the continuation of Post Alley the passes through the middle of the steps. This is a great Seattle lunch spot and gateway. Now if they’ll just work on that waterfront….

    Olympic Scultpure Park
    A new park on the waterfront that incorporates free open to the public outdoor space with sculptures for the Seattle Art Museum. This park, a former industrial site, boasts multiples levels and accessibility options while also incorporating a natural beach front with direct water access.

    Growing Vine
    A green street in downtown with a creative streak including a cistern designed by NW artist Buster Simpson.

    Waterfall Garden Park
    This is a little, somewhat hidden park in the historic pioneer square district. It is privately owned and gated so it has hours. But this park is highly loved and very highly used. It may seem hoaky to a landscape architect with the gigantic water fall sprouting out of the top of a building but the sound does wonders for the space. Admire how such a small space has so many uses….covered/uncovered areas, varying levels, connected water features and channels, moveable furniture, seat walls, lush planting, accessible areas and a direct connection with water. And be amazed at how comfortable you feel inside even though the sidewalk and street are but a few feet away. This park also marks the birthplace of UPS. Chat it up with the guard on duty, they are always friendly and happy to give you a little history lesson.

    Occidental Park and Pedestrian Mall
    Designed by local firm Jones and Jones and built in the early 70’s, this is the heart of the old Pioneer Square historic district. The pedestrian mall itself is a nice tree-lined street that has been closed to traffic and designated by the city as a green street.

    A virtual tour:

    Westlake Center
    While wandering through downtown, check out the streets outside Westlake Center. The basket weave pattern gives a nod to the native american basket weaving while providing a safe pedestrian-friendly street with low curbs and unified paving.

    Seattle Center
    Hope the monorail from Westlake and head over to Seattle Center to visit the space need and wander the ground of theold 1962 World’s Fair. The is a highly interactive fountain, series of small urban parks and interesting good and bad spaces. With contributions by folks like Halprin and Haag, this is an interesting area to see.

    Washington Mutual Tower Green Roof
    There is an amazing green roof on top of the Washington Mutual Tower and I’m not sure how difficult it is to get access up there but if you can, this is an amazing space on their 17th floor.

    Freeway Park
    Visit the grand park that spans the gigantic interstate 5 to link First Hill with the downtown area and convention center with fantastic fountains and work by Lawrence Halprin and completed in the mid 70’s.

    Gasworks Park
    Designed by Richard Haag this park features historic preservation, soil remediation, public art and a fabulous location on Lake Union with mounded hills great for viewing the passing days or the 4th of July fireworks show. This is a very popular spot for the University of Washington students too, being so close via the Burke Gilman trail.

    And while your at Gasworks, head down the Burke Gilman Trail towards the University of Washington and check out the Wall of Death, an art installation that has become something of an unplanned skate park under the freeway. Continue on to the University of Washington.

    University of Washington
    Visit the University of Washington campus and walk the whole thing. It’s divided into quadrants, each quadrant containing a different type of vegetation. The campus itself is like an arboretum. New spaces pop up all the time, you just need to wander the campus to enjoy it fully. There are big spaces, small spaces, waterfront areas, natural areas, urban areas and some very large and very old trees…it’s got it all and many designers have contributed to it’s current design. There is a good art museum on campus too, the Henry Art Gallery. You could even pop into Gould Hall and wander around and see the work of young landscape architecture, planning and architecture students posted through the hall.

    For a landscape architect, you should also check out the University of Washington’s Washington Park Arboretum. It’s top notch, huge and the areas are split into families with some extremely old, fantastic specimens of rare trees. There is also a Japanese garden.

    Discovery Park
    This 534 acre park boasts an amazing natural area and wildlife sanctuary operated by the City. This is Seattle’s largest park and is a natural beauty with forests, sweeping grasslands, trails, and waterfront. There is a lighthouse, a Native American cultural center (Daybreak Star) and also a wastewater treatment plant. The West Point Treatment Plant has landscaped grounds with native vegetation, screening and walking and biking trails as well as a freshwater wetland and walls with native vegetation along the waterfront constructed to mimic coastal bluffs while hiding the treatment plant from passing boats. Bioremediation has also been successfully used in Discovery Park for getting rid of invasive blackberries and re-establishing native vegetation.

    Waterworks Garden
    While this park is outside of Seattle in the city of Renton, if you have a car you may think of visiting is this is of interest to you. This is the site of a sewage treatment plant that has become an amenity rather than an eyesore. This park artfully weds ecology with art to bring residents and visitors a park that artfully cleans water while providing unique spaces to explore, enjoy and learn.

    Alki Point
    For a dramatic unobstructed view of Seattle’s amazing skyline, visit West Seattle and Alki Point. This area is directly across the water from Seattle and gorgeous at night. See the light, watch the ferries come and go, enjoy the nice waterfront trail. The drive out there is nicely done as the view is hidden by large berms and evergreens until all of a sudden the view opens up. Very nice.

    Ok, I know I missed a bunch of stuff, but that will do it for now. I’ll make sure to write more if I think of anything. Of course, there are millions more parks but it really depends on if you are looking for anything in particular. That was just kind of a broad overview.

    Mark Simmons

    Thanks a lot, Lisa. I will only be in Seattle for 24 hours and I’ll try to see as much as I can.

    Mark Simmons

    Thanks, Lisa, for the suggestions on what to see in Seattle. I rented a bike and spent an entire day riding around Seattle from park to park. I was amazed at how beautiful this city is, and really impressed by all the landscapes. I hope to go back again soon to see some things that I missed.

    Lisa Town

    Nice! And that is very ambitious, Seattle is incredibly hilly!

    Did you take photos? You should post them!

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