Nakano Associates

Specialty: Public sector urban design, mass transit, parks, plazas, campus planning
Management: Principals Jim Yamaguchi and Kenichi NakanoYear founded: 1990
Headquarters: Seattle
Current projects: Sodo sustainable planning study for the city of Seattle; landscape and open space design for remodel of Springwood Apartments in Kent; master planning for Bellingham’s arts district

Image courtesy of Nakano Associates
Nakano Associates is designing a memorial garden for the Japanese American Language School on the campus of UW Tacoma.

Fortunately for business, Kenichi Nakano’s interests and those of his clients intersect.

He’s interested in sustainable design, for example. And it’s a good time for urban planners and landscape designers who specialize in green design, as his firm does.

“Especially now with the global warming issues, I think that’s going to be really important,” Nakano said.

Nakano is also interested in mass transit.

“The biggest issue in our region is the transportation issues that need to be solved,” Nakano said.

Nakano Associates did the design studies for several Sound Transit light-rail stations as well as the Mercer Island Park & Ride. Later this year, the firm will begin planning Sound Transit’s East Link light-rail alignment from downtown Seattle to Bellevue and Redmond.

Internment camp memorials

In the last couple of years, Nakano has been working on memorials which hold personal meaning for him. In collaboration with five University of Washington landscape architecture students, Nakano will be designing a memorial at the Minidoka relocation camp in Idaho, where Japanese Americans were sent during World War II.

Nakano was born at the Tule Lake internment camp in northern California.

He is also designing a memorial garden for the Japanese American Language School, or Nihongo Gakko, on the campus of UW Tacoma. Until World War II, when the Japanese were sent off to relocation camps, the school was the center of Tacoma’s Japanese community. Left abandoned for years, the school was torn down about three years ago when the city of Tacoma deemed it a safety hazard.

Nakano is also doing a master plan for “The Sanctuary,” a 100-acre site near Chimacum which will house dogs and cats which would otherwise be euthanized. “It’s called the ‘no-kill zone,’” Nakano said. The site was a gift from the state Parks Department to the Dugan Foundation.

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