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April 20, 2000

A field day for landscape design

And it wont be over tomorrow. Some long term trends lead to a green future.

By CLAIR ENLOW
Landscape Northwest editor

The Garden of Remembrance
The Garden of Remembrance at Benaroya Hall was designed by Murase Associates, with stonework selected and placed by Robert Murase. The garden, located at the southwest corner of Benaroya Hall, was designed to commemorate 8,000 Washington State veterans who gave their lives in conflicts from World War II to the present. As an open space, it is designed to be an extension of the University Street hillclimb as well as an accessible entry to the downtown transit tunnel. Among the stones and water features there is space for informal gatherings as well as personal reflection.
This year, Seattle area landscape architects and designers are enjoying a steady rise in demand for professional services. And there are many reasons to believe its not just a blip in the history of the field.

While the business of landscape design follows many of the same trends as the rest of the design and construction industry, the surge in business is especially high, deep and wide among these firms.

Even if the economy does not hold its momentum, there are several reasons to believe that there is a new, underlying level of support for landscape architecture and design services.

These are the reasons:

  • The economy is still booming. Private developers are still very optimistic, and taxpayers are supporting the construction of more infrastructure, parks, schools, trail systems and community centers.

  • Land is scarce. Paradoxically, the fewer building sites available, the greater the market for landscape design services. Scarcity brings value, and value opens doors and purses for design services. Developers want to bring the best value on line for their land costs, and new and established communities want outdoor amenities close to home. They call on landscape professionals to help make the best use of the land.

  • The public sector is investing in infrastructure, planning and quality-of-life as never before. Growth controls and the public demand for walkable, livable communities has focused public investment in land-based planning and landscape design. Light rail stations, to green streets, to trails, watershed restoration, and neighborhood pea patches, landscape design is at the heart of many projects.

  • A generation of schools, cultural and institutional facilities are at the end of their lives. Many of the buildings brought to us by the post-war boom need fixing or replacement, and technology needs add to the demand for new and renovated facilities. Landscape design is becoming a more and more important part of the picture as futures look greener and institutions seek to offer more to their constituencies.

  • Environmental awareness is mounting, and the pressure to build and design sustainably is coming from many sides. Seattle is the first urban area to become designated as habitat for an endangered species, putting the law behind many long-term environmental goals and policies. At the same time, "green" is fashionable as never before. Perhaps more than any other group, landscape professionals are in a position to act on these trends. And with pressures from the market for their services, ecology-minded landscape firms are in a good position to influence their clients.

  • Seattle continues on its slow evolution from logging town to world class city. This is the city that waited for half a century to replant trees in some neighborhoods. Until the last decade, sprawl was restrained only by topography. Now we want our urban lifestyles and our salmon, too. Seattle landscape architects and designers have been looking to the great cities of the world for models, and they are finding that design can work on many different scales, and nature can coexist with city streets in surprising ways.


C O N T E N T S


Finding the way to the future in the city's open spaces
In Seattle, perhaps more than any other city in America, there is a particularly acute form of civic angst: Seattle seems to want to be a big city, while retaining all of the small town characteristics it has cherished for years.

Urban ecology, or expressing nature in the city
Parks and open spaces are often the only parts of our cities where we can experience, interact with, and learn from nature. So, it is crucial that the designs for these precious spaces maximize their value on a variety of levels.

A step at a time through Seattles downtown wayfinding project
A city is personified by its "language of the street." The messages, the visual images, the symbols-even the sounds and smells of the street-become part of a towns lasting impression on the memories of visitors from near and far.

Green Streets: a better way to go
From Rome to Kyoto, it is the connections within a city that make it livable and walkable. These connections extend from a good public transportation network to pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

SPU takes leadership role in salmon habitat recovery
Build it and they will come." Those words, taken from the film "Field of Dreams" refer to baseball, but they could just as easily represent the ideas behind a Seattle Public Utilities goal for bringing salmon back to spawn in Seattles streams and creeks.

Professional commitment: passing the torch and keeping it lit
By helping to ensure the success of others we not only ensure the continuation of the profession, we personally enrich our own lives and the lives of others.

The Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center
Located on 255 acres on the south end of Bainbridge Island, the Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center will offer overnight educational programs for the students of the greater Seattle area beginning in fall 2001.

A catalyst for change: the new urban corporate campus
Seattle and the Puget Sound region currently lead in the development of both urban and suburban corporate campuses, and local developments are setting the standard for other communities throughout the nation.

Water comes to life at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center
Its all about water. When the Cedar River Watershed Education Center opens next June, visitors to the four-acre building and landscape complex will feel, hear and see the city of Seattles water at its source and see some ways it is collected and channeled.

Necklace of parks laces Edmonds changing waterfront
In a small city just to the north of Seattle, a world-class waterfront is taking shape. Called "the gem of Puget Sound" because of its natural beauty and scenic views, the City of Edmonds has developed a vision for a vibrant public waterfront.

Lighting brings focus to elements of integrated design
Lighting design can be an important element of a neighborhood's identity and character.

The Landscape Northwest 2000 Survey
Hear from over 20 of the area's Landscape design firms about the Landscape market and how it's changing.

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