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January 5, 2012

Robert Shrosbree, landscape architect, has died at age 58

Journal Staff Reporter

Robert Neal Shrosbree, a landscape architect and co-founder of the Seattle landscape architecture firm Site Workshop, died Dec. 30 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 58.


A memorial service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Olympic Sculpture Park Pavilion.

Shrosbree built a career based on civic, institutional and public works that reflect the regional design Seattle is known for, said Mark Brands, with whom he founded Site Workshop in 2000. “It's about the water, the mountains, the culture of Seattle.”

Shrosbree had more than three decades of experience in planning, designing and managing projects in the United States, Europe and Asia. A statement from the firm said he believed that successful work emerges from collaboration among architects, engineers and artists, and that landscape architecture is integral to innovative and enduring design.

Shrosbree was recently inducted into the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows for design excellence.

Brands said his partner could think about the big picture and small details, and was meticulous about attending to both from conceptual design to construction.

“It was that rigor all the way through that really spoke volumes about his work,” he said. “That attention to detail was incredibly important ... right down to the last stone.”

Among Shrosbree's projects are the Washington State East Capitol Campus, Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion, St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor and the soon-to-be-completed UW Medical Center expansion.

Brian McCarter, a landscape architect with ZGF Architects in Portland, said Shrosbree collaborated with some of the best architects in Seattle. His work was simple and elegant, McCarter said. “It always fit the context very appropriately.”

Shrosbree's projects reflected his skill, knowledge and good judgement, McCarter said, with no two pieces looking the same.

Before Site Workshop, Shrosbree was design director and principal for the Seattle office of EDAW and led the integration of its regional practice with its national and international presence. Prior to that, he directed the Seattle office of Murase Associates and was a senior associate at Thomas Berger Associates.

Shrosbree was active in the ASLA, American Institute of Architects, landscape architectural education and the broader design community, and served on boards and committees that supported those interests.

Shrosbree also was passionate about taking care of street artists in downtown Seattle by buying their art, Brands said. He bought painted wooden pieces weekly from artist Darryl Ary at Pike Place Market. “We probably have one of the larger collections of Darryl's artwork in our office,” Brands said.

Shrosbree was born in La Jolla, Calif., and grew up in Boise, Idaho. In 1978, he earned a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.

Jim Shrosbree remembers his brother for having high standards and being self sufficient: “He was good at almost everything he did growing up” and later earned a college degree, although their parents had not. “He made his own way.”

Jim said his brother was a good mimic and was always entertaining, but he didn't laugh at his own jokes. “When you got him to laugh at your jokes, you felt sort of satisfied.”

Jim said Robert also had a strong connection to his children, and always encouraged them to stay active. “I just always remember every time I'd visit that there was always this family thing with three kids and a dog.”

Robert Shrosbree is survived by his mother, Gloria Shrosbree; son and daughter-in-law John and Mia Shrosbree; daughters Elizabeth and Katherine Shrosbree; granddaughter Mary Shrosbree; brother and sister-in-law Jim and Kathy Shrosbree; niece Gyan Shrosbree; and a close friend, Dagmar Vanselow. He is also survived by his aunts and numerous cousins, as well as his extended family at Site Workshop.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Childhaven of Seattle.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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