Back in September, J.A. Brennan participated in the Urban Design Scavenger Hunt, sponsored by our friends at MAKERS Architecture and Urban Design during the Seattle Design Festival. The hunt led us all over the city to find the places portrayed in historic photos. We did the best we could to interpret the locations. Our reward for winning first place: Volumes I-III of Seattle Now and Then!
by Mike Perfetti, Senior Associate, Landscape Architect
One challenge we face on many public park projects is protecting newly installed plants from being trampled by park users. (Another challenge is preventing plants from being devoured by wildlife!) Recently we worked with Davido Consulting Group at San Juan County’s Odlin Park to design renovations to an extremely popular waterfront campground.
Previously, the beach sites were strung together, tents, and portable shelters packed in against one another. Cars parked in all sorts of configurations within the sites. Though patches of dune grass prevailed around user trails, the grass was unable to expand, limited by the expansive human footprint.
With the renovations, we used native shoreline plants to create more privacy between the beach sites. The restored vegetation on the shoreline also enhances habitat and reduces erosion. The beach sites don’t have irrigation and budget was an issue during design, so it was important to take a restoration approach, using smaller plant material.
It will take some time for the smaller plants to become established and substantial enough to achieve their desired effect. In anticipation of this time lag, we designed a pattern of dune fencing to protect the plants and delineate use zones. After one jam-packed camping season and record-breaking heat, the shoreline planting areas are doing well.
Shore pines, Nootka Rose and Dune grass will eventually form thickets of semi-shady beach plantings, their scent mixing with the salt air and helping to break the wind as campers stoke the beach fires.
In the meantime, the dune fencing will provide some of that function, creating an aura that is distinctly beachy, a welcome improvement from the cluster of vehicles and the unabated camp stuff that used to sprawl across the shoreline at Odlin Park.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan’s scenic east coast again and present at a symposium. I have been involved with tourism planning for the East Coast Tourism Bureau for the past 15 years and previously worked on development of the Green Island Master Plan.
The S.E. Coast of Taiwan is experiencing increased visitation of tourists from mainland China. The rapid growth in tourism and resulting encroachments on tribal lands and traditional use areas is creating negative impacts to Taiwan’s aboriginal community. At the symposium, I presented concepts for culturally sensitive design and discussed processes to involve the native community. I worked with Joe Lee of ECG International, a partner firm, to explore and present case study projects that successfully express cultural identity.
As the first discussion, the symposium served as a starting point for the long-term goal, which is to find common ground that leads to mutually beneficial solutions for the government, tribes, and developers.
There will be lots of hard work to get to a win / win outcome. The director of the East Coast Scenic Area was impressed with the progress made during the meeting. We expect that the plan resulting from this process will protect tribal interests and improve Taiwan’s scenic east coast for all visitors.
I live in the Shorewood neighborhood, on the southwest edge of Seattle at the Burien border. We are fortunate that we have two or three locations within walking distance where we are able to access a peaceful natural forest setting.
Experiencing the Greenbelt
One of my favorite walks is down Seola Beach Drive and through Seola Park. This a loop walk through the neighborhood and offers a variety of experiences, from a rural street condition to a nature trail through the forest canopy. The trail provides framed views to the water and leads up to a small neighborhood park at the top of the ravine, perfect for picnicking or exploring a wonderful eucalyptus tree.
As the two lane street descends towards the Puget Sound, it follows the bottom of a tree-covered ravine. The canopy is primarily comprised of second growth alder, big leaf maple, madrona, and some conifers. A seasonal stream runs along the edge of one side of the street. At the low point of the ravine the sound of water flowing and gurgling is evident during the wet season, which adds to the special character of this setting. There is a sense of being in a natural riparian corridor as one travels towards the water.
The rim of the ravine is lined with single family homes. The landscape in the ravine is plagued with invasive plants. The usual suspects: ivy, clematis, and blackberries are the invasive culprits. These aggressive vines climb many of the trees, robbing them of nutrients and light, which can kill them.
In recent walks we have started to notice positive changes in the health of the understory. The ivy is slowly being removed, and pockets of newly planted native species, mulched with bark, have popped up. It’s apparent that action is being taken to reclaim the greenbelt.
Green Seattle Partnership
I have volunteered my time on a couple occasions to assist Seattle Parks and the Green Seattle Partnership with restoration work in the Seola corridor. Most recently, I assisted our local forest steward by placing bark mulch in the pocket park at the top of the ravine. In the Fall I helped plant native plants.
Teaching Green Values to My Kids
I have taken my kids (3 and 6) to help out during these volunteer projects. At each event, they first have a high interest in assisting, but after an hour and a half, boredom does set in. Of course, my productivity is impacted, but the tradeoff is acceptable to me. The idea of instilling community service values and showing the kids firsthand how to preserve and enhance an urban forest is important to me as a landscape architect and a parent.
I want to acknowledge the efforts of Seattle’s forest stewards. Without them, Seattle would be a less green place.
“Spotlight Awards highlight excellence and achievements in the field of parks and recreation by honoring the amazing efforts of public agencies. Facilities & Parks Awards recognize the highest standards in design, development and renovation of park and recreation areas.” – WRPA
J.A. Brennan congratulates the City of Chelan and Parks and Recreation Director Charles Sablan. We are proud to have helped Chelan restore its premier waterfront park and swimming beach.
J.A. Brennan served as prime consultant. The design team included Reid Middleton, Coast & Harbor Engineering, The Watershed Company, SWCA, Budinger & Associates, Shannon & Wilson, Cascade Interpretive Design, Sparling, Erlandsen Inc., and Nelson Geotechnical Consultants.
The crew at JAB is at it! Our office of 8 has joined the 2014 Cascade Commute Challenge. We have a 63% participation rate, five staff members are actively involved in the bike to work month of May (and most other months too). We are almost at the halfway point of bike to work and have accumulated a total of 260 miles.
NICE WORK TEAM!!
Drew’s wonderfully sunny homeward bound commute across the Duwamish River yesterday! Industry and wildflowers mix it up on the East Channel crossing.