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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY RANDY GRAGG

FROM THE MARCH 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

A city of hilltops and lakes bracketed by two mountain ranges, Seattle owns a surplus of views. But none quite matches the grandness of the Rainier Vista. John Charles Olmsted captured it in his plan for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, guiding the era’s standard, plaster-and-wood City Beautiful architecture to frame Mount Rainier in a compressed perspective sliced through the thick forest. As the University of Washington, the site’s owner, grew, it kept the vista as a front yard, building its early collegiate gothic edifices to bracket the burly 14,400-foot volcano. Take that, Ivy League.

But then came the era of the auto and midcentury campus planning.

Olmsted shaped the grand axis as the exposition’s entrance from railroad and ferry stops at its foot. But he sketched nothing beyond the great fair’s grounds. Thus the view’s foreground became a visual ellipsis petering out in the forest and marshes beyond. That lower terminus (known as the Montlake Triangle) and its surroundings sprouted a clutter of buildings and infrastructure: widening roads, giant underground pipes for steam and sewage, and a barely buried parking garage. As UW’s medical research arm grew into one of the country’s most muscular, a second campus of beige, Lego-set buildings rose at the vista’s end. And as the UW Huskies became a Pac-12 football powerhouse, their stadium surged to the east with 70,000 seats and home-game Saturdays that clog the surrounding roads for miles. Meantime, the onetime Burlington Northern Railroad at the vista’s foot in 1978 became one of the country’s first and busiest rail-to-trail paths, the Burke-Gilman Trail. But the university plowed a service road down the vista’s midsection.

“The surroundings became the boring-edge, white-space infrastructure area, a surplus space,” says Shannon Nichol, FASLA, a cofounder of GGN, the firm given the job to resuscitate Rainier Vista. “The view ended like a foggy distance in a painting rather than being really designed as valuable space. There was nothing interesting coming out of the land.” (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN SCOTT

In dry western Washington, a fruit company compound by Berger Partnership all but vanishes in a shroud of native plantings.

FROM THE AUGUST 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The shift takes place just past Cle Elum. Driving the 140 miles from Seattle to Yakima, Washington, crossing the Cascade Range at Snoqualmie Pass, the landscape seems to dissolve in the span of a few minutes. The ponderosa pine forest gives way to high desert so quickly it’s as if the towering trees had been shrunk by a laser, transfigured into gnarly sagebrush. Dotting eastern Washington’s arid, gray-brown shrub steppe are green pastures, fields, orchards, and farms. The Yakima Valley is one of the most productive regions in Washington, thanks to a massive irrigation project undertaken around the turn of the 20th century. Farmers here grow apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and plums, as well as grapes for wine and hops for beer. The Yakima Valley produces more hops than anywhere else in the United States and more than two-thirds of Washington’s wine grapes, an industry worth nearly $5 billion.

And yet the sparsely vegetated ridges reveal the climatological truth of this place: that under normal conditions, the Cascades are a good enough goalie to prevent all but a fraction of western Washington’s wetness from slipping past them, and the presence of even the smallest amount of water is broadcast in bright pops of color. The draws and gullies appear as gashes of green, yellow, pink, and white, as if someone took a landscape painting, folded it in two, and stuffed the canvas into a crevice.

I take in the view from the cab of a 2016 Toyota Tacoma hurtling eastward on Interstate 90. Jason Henry, ASLA, a principal at the Seattle-based Berger Partnership, is driving. We’re on our way to Yakima, a sprawled-out town of roughly 100,000 people, where Berger Partnership recently completed the landscape for the headquarters of the Washington Fruit & Produce Company, a family-owned grower founded in 1916. Although Henry has lived in Seattle since 1996, the landscape architect has a deep connection to the Yakima Valley. His mother was born in Selah, just north of Yakima, and as a child, he spent summers at his aunt and uncle’s ranch outside the city, exploring and fishing and occasionally helping out in the family orchards. He still has cousins in the fruit industry. (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY JONATHAN LERNER

FROM THE AUGUST 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

One morning last March, Brice Maryman, ASLA, walked to his downtown Seattle office at MIG|SvR through linear parkland that hugs Interstate 90. Maryman recently completed a Landscape Architecture Foundation fellowship to explore the intersection of homelessness and public space; one result is his podcast HomeLandLab. Now he wanted to check on some encampments. He has a boyish look, a gingery beard, and a ready chuckle. He was dressed like many Seattle professionals, in a hooded puffer jacket and sneakers. He doesn’t smoke, but before leaving the house he dropped an unopened pack of Marlboros into his bag. “My public outreach tool,” he grinned. Also for distribution: new socks, granola bars.

Seattle is a powerhouse of contrasts. The city has added about 22,000 jobs a year recently, but only about 8,000 new residential units. The median house price doubled between 2012 and 2017. In Maryman’s originally working class and still less-than-glamorous neighborhood, new town houses smaller than 1,500 square feet on postage-stamp lots are listing for around $700,000. Downtown and its margins are thick with new residential towers and construction cranes. But Seattle, with surrounding King County, has among the largest homeless populations, per capita, of any American metropolis. A one-night count in January 2019 found 11,199 people homeless. Nearly half were “unsheltered”—sleeping not in emergency shelters or transitional housing but in parks, beneath bridges, in doorways, parking lots, alleys, or the verges of expressway on-ramps. They live in cars or RVs, vacant buildings, tents, or literally without shelter. Drifts of makeshift dwellings shape themselves to interstitial spaces, seemingly everywhere. From a distance, they are unified by their blue tarps. Blue tarps, as in refugee camps.

Maryman pulled on an orange safety vest, stepped off the paved trail, and headed down a steep informal path. The vest, suggesting he was a park worker, counterintuitively made his approach “less threatening,” he said. Homeless people, “often themselves victims” of theft, manipulative drug dealers, or sexual attack, can be wary of strangers. Nearing a small cluster of tents, he stood well back and called cheerfully, “Knock, knock! Anybody home?” Home. (more…)

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FOREGROUND

What Makes Us Us (Interview)
Julian Raxworthy talks about the proletarian roots of his new book, Overgrown.

Hog-Tied (Waste)
A few landscape architects have begun to focus on the huge ecological hazards
of animal waste from agriculture operations.

Linked In (Habitat)
A Seattle neighborhood is the starting point of the artist Sarah Bergmann’s
realization of a living network called Pollinator Pathways.

FEATURES

MLA ROI
Although the landscape architecture profession is poised to grow, master’s degree programs are struggling to gain enrollments. One major reason is the cost and eventual payoff of pursuing a degree.

Refuge Found
Outside Denver, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, a Design Workshop project that received the 2018 ASLA Landmark Award, continues to rebuild a high-prairie ecosystem scorched by weapons and chemical production.

Twice Bitten
Two flash floods in three years gutted the historic heart of Ellicott City, Maryland. Mahan Rykiel Associates is working to help the town figure out how to meet a future of extreme weather.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Refuge Found,” D. A. Horchner/Design Workshop; “Twice Bitten,” Josh Ganzermiller Photography; “Hog-Tied,” Waterkeeper Alliance; “Linked In,” © David E. Perry; “What Makes Us Us,” Julian Raxworthy. 

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Inside the years-long effort to design the world’s least traditional workplace.

FROM THE JANUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 1659, Lord Henry Capel, a member of England’s Parliament, inherited a coveted estate along the River Thames near London. Capel and his wife moved into the grand manor house at what was then known as Kew Park and, as was popular at the time, began developing a series of formal gardens. But Capel’s plant collections were unusual. He built greenhouses for species that craved warmer climates, and his gardens burst with exotic flowers, fruit trees, and rare dwarf cultivars. Evergreens, oranges, flowering viburnum, Pistacia lentiscus from the shores of the Mediterranean. It was said that Capel’s gardens were “furnished with the best fruit trees in England.”

In 1772, the estate was joined with the adjacent Richmond Gardens, and in 1840, Kew Gardens, as it was then known, was conveyed to the public. The world-renowned botanic garden and research institute now boasts more than 30,000 types of plants housed in a series of ornate, Victorian-era greenhouses and ornamental gardens. Today, Kew is considered both the “cradle of the English landscape movement” and a locus of cutting-edge botanical knowledge. The gardens draw more than 2.1 million visitors a year.

More than 300 years after Capel planted his first fir, Jeff Bezos found himself meditating on Kew’s legacy. The American CEO of Amazon, and officially the wealthiest person on the planet, found the botanic garden bewitching. It was invigorating, nourishing. He wondered if an office could have the same effect. Was it possible to capture the sense of quiet inspiration? What would it look like? (more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Image courtesy NBBJ/Sean Airhart.

From “Open Office” in the January 2019 issue by Timothy A. Schuler, about the Spheres—Amazon’s hybrid greenhouse and office in Seattle.

“Sphere interior.”

–CHRIS MCGEE, LAM ART DIRECTOR

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

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BY LISA OWENS VIANI

Beavers become partners in restoration.

FROM THE JANUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

As public support for trapping has waned, beavers are making a comeback in urban waterways around the country. In Seattle, they are now said to be found in every suitable stream and water body, and some project designers now see them as partners in wetland restoration rather than nuisances. They say the benefits beavers bring to an ecosystem outweigh the challenges, and point out that working with them is far less expensive—and more humane—than trapping.

“Beavers construct wetlands that hold back and store water, allowing for groundwater recharge and pollution sequestration, and increasing biodiversity,” says Ben Dittbrenner, the aquatic ecologist and executive director of Beavers Northwest. “We do the same thing for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they do it for free.” This past October, (more…)

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