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May 9, 2014

Grand Ridge Plaza blocks 2, 3, 17 and 18


Photo courtesy of WACA [enlarge]
Concrete cylinders designed to look like logs serve as seating and site walls in this Issaquah plaza.

Location: Issaquah

Owner/developer: Grand Ridge Plaza II LLC

Project team: Robertson & Olson Construction, general contractor; Hewitt, architect; Magnusson Klemencic Associates, structural engineer; Turnstone Construction, decorative concrete contractor; Kulchin Foundation Drilling and Emil’s Concrete Construction Co., concrete contractors; Cadman, ready-mix supplier

In developing a segment of the Issaquah Highlands called Grand Ridge Plaza, Regency Centers employed Hewitt to meld the built environment into the natural landscape. Various artistic expressions utilizing concrete were included in this effort.

• Artistic shotcrete retaining wall along 10th Avenue Northeast: This wall was originally built as a decorative gabion-basket retaining wall, however the owner wanted the wall to be deepened to accommodate the design of a large commercial store and improve the appearance of the existing wall.

To accomplish this Kulchin Foundation Drilling installed a soil nail-supported shotcrete wall that was textured to resemble large blocks of stone in an ashlar pattern. This pattern was carved into the shotcrete before it set and stained to prompt the wall to appear as carefully stacked individual stones.

Texturing and staining was performed by Turnstone Construction. The result is a beautiful adornment to a street that leads to a residential neighborhood, and it was additionally a cost-effective means of supporting 18 feet of earth behind a commercial building.

• Blowdown Plaza: The green space adjacent to one of the site’s wetland buffers presented an opportunity to employ concrete in an artistic expression.

Concrete “blowdowns,” cylinders of concrete in varying diameters and lengths, represent abstract log forms and are signature elements of the pedestrian plaza.

The blowdowns were poured in an integrally colored concrete that was then sandblasted on the sides and polished on the ends. These blowdowns serve as low site walls for retaining soil, informal seating opportunities, spatial definers, and as the transitional edge to the protected wetland buffer.

The interlaced geometric layout of the concrete cylinders creates clean, long lines that often fracture and overlap. Where these overlaps and fractures occur gathering spaces and areas of unique planting are formed.

The sandblasted finish weathers to emulate timber forms, and the polished ends reveal the natural beauty of the concrete. These cylinders were designed by Hewitt, formed and poured by Emil’s Concrete and set in place by Turnstone Construction.

• Artistically embossed textured and colored sidewalks: The pedestrian walks throughout the project are poured with integrally colored concrete that incorporate impressions of sword ferns that are naturally stained to produce color contrast and beauty. This approach represents a subtle but important tie to the surrounding natural landscape using concrete.

These three elements demonstrate that an artistic application to common built architectural forms can enhance the experiential quality of these destinations for the residents and visitors to the Issaquah Highlands and Grand Ridge Plaza.

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