Karen Kiest Landscape Architects

Specialty: Urban design and planning
Management: Karen Kiest, principal
Year founded: 2002
Headquarters: Seattle
Current projects: Sound Transit Link light rail site restoration; John C. Little Sr. Park, Seattle; Lincoln High School, Tacoma

Image courtesy of Karen Kiest Landscape Architects
Karen Kiest Landscape Architects is working on schematic designs for Junction Plaza Park, which will be located in West Seattle.

Karen Kiest is seeing some long-term projects come to fruition, such as Sound Transit’s Link light rail which she’s been working on since 1997. Although completion won’t happen until 2009, it’s exciting for Kiest that it’s finally being done.

“It’s fantastic! You always want to be able to tell your mom you built something,” she said.

Her company is overseeing site restoration for six miles of alignment on the light-rail segments that go from Boeing Access Road to Sea-Tac Airport.

It is also working on two long-term transit center projects in Everett and Burien.

According to Kiest, landscaping in Seattle will see some big changes this year due to the Seattle Green Factor code changes. The changes affect future commercial projects and promote green space. They went into effect in January and Kiest is already working on three projects centered on them.

“People have been contacting us saying ‘do you know how to do this?’” Kiest said.

The code changes will show up this year in many more commercial projects with landscaped yards, vine-covered walls, high street-side plantings and street projects with higher and denser plantings, she said.

“Its very experimental,” she said. “Figuring out what’s the best formula to employ the Green Factor gives us (landscape architects) a bigger factor.”

Kiest hopes it will also promote the incorporation of landscape architects from an earlier stage to better streamline green spaces.

She said she thinks the Green Factor had led people to begin understanding the value of landscape in the environment, which will result in a greener environment.

“Seattle is getting more interesting all the time,” she said.

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