Open Space Seattle:2100

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Significant Urban Trees

This was an interesting tidbit that came across the ticker. In San Francisco, they recently amended their urban forestry ordinance to protect landmark trees. The revised text reads:

WHEREAS, Trees that have: historic or cultural importance, contribute in an

exceptional way to the visual character of neighborhoods, or provide important

<> environmental benefits have a special value and meaning to the community; and,

Landmark trees shall be determined as prescribed, considering the five factors that are listed under Sec. 810(A)(d). Significant Trees shall have a nomination process that goes before the Urban Forest Council, which makes a recommendation to the Director of Public Works. (Appealable to the Board of Permit Appeals.) The criteria and characteristics for this
determination shall be public benefit and public view trunk diameter, canopy and height. Additional recommendations for Section 810A would be to (1) combine one category to
simplify the code, i.e. Landmark significant trees; (2) bring the intangible characteristics to a
higher level making those items equal with tangible sizes; (3) nomination of a tree on private
property requires 3 parties if the property owner(s) are opposed to the nomination; (4) the
process requires nomination rather than automatic designation; (5) make the size
requirements greater; (6) encourage language that leaves room for the requirements to
broaden over time; and (7) to incorporate amendments to the Significant Tree portion, Section
810A as recommended by the Urban Forest Council and in the work done by others.

This is particularly relevant with the on-going controversy at Seward Park and the previous controversy at Pioneer Square. Does Seattle need one?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What starts with two L's and recently won an AIA award?

The Lloyd Crossing Sustainable Urban Design Plan completed by our good friends over at Mithun was recently awarded an AIA Honor Award for Urban Design. It is an amazing study. Looking at ecological function, Mithun's work assesses how it might be possible to restore natural, ecological functions within the city while also having various economic payoffs. Remarkable work that they well deserve recognition for.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Guiding Principles

For 3 months, the Open Space Seattle 2100 Guidance and Executive Committees developed a series of 8 principles to guide the vision plans for the charrette. So here they are. What do you think? What was left out? What did they miss? What will you your team add to these? Or how will you morph or re-interpret them?

1. Consider Seattle's role as an ecological, economic, and cultural crossroads; its location in one of the world's great estuaries and between two dramatic mountain ranges; its critical position as a threshold to two major watersheds (Cedar and Green/Duwamish); and its relationship to salt and fresh water bodies throughout the city.

Integrate a variety of types of open space within a unifying, coherent structure. Incorporate considerations for streets, creeks, parks, habitat, urban forests, trails, drainage, shorelines, views, commercial and civic spaces, back yards and buildings. Consider layering multiple functions and uses within green spaces to create high-functioning, high value open spaces.

Within a network of open spaces provide equitable access for all persons to a variety of outdoor and recreational experiences. Distribute appropriate open space types to every neighborhood, in order to address the needs of diverse population groups. Prioritize public access to water.

Create a wholly connected system that facilitates non-motorized movement, enhances habitat through connectivity, links diverse neighborhoods, and is easy to navigate and understand. Connect these in-city amenities to surrounding communities, trails and public lands.

Use Seattle's many natural strengths to create an exemplary, signature open space system. Build on intrinsic qualities, both natural and cultural; reflect, respond to and interpret geographic, ecological, aesthetic and cultural contexts; address emotional and spiritual needs; and inspire a deep connection to place.

Expand the quantity and quality of natural systems in the city: Provide quality habitat for all appropriate species, with a special emphasis on the waters' edge. Design for hydrological health (water temperature, water quality, water regimes, stormwater), and consider appropriate water and resource conservation strategies. Connect to regional ecosystems in order to achieve integrity, resiliency and biodiversity in ecological systems in the face of climate change.

Continue to make the city a safe and healthful place to live. Reduce the risk of natural hazards (slides, flooding, earthquake, soil and water contamination) while reclaiming and treating previously toxic sites. Provide multiple opportunities for exercise, physical activity, and a connection to nature to be integrated into daily lives.

While visionary, the plan should be lasting and feasible, with a complementary set of near-term implementation strategies that includes mechanisms for both public and private investment that are achievable in incremental steps and adaptable over time. (e.g. codes, funding sources and incentives). It should be maintainable, inspiring shared stewardship between public agencies, private businesses, and individual citizens to foster pride, purpose and community.

The Olin Returns

The University of Washington's Landscape Architecture Department is bringing one of the country's top landscape architects, Laurie Olin of the Olin Partnership, out to Seattle. On Wednesday, February 8th, he will be speaking at the Frye Art Museum. Doors at 6. Lecture at 6:30. First come, first seated. This is not Laurie's first time to the city. Before he went on to international aclaim for projects like the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Robert F. Wagner Park in NYC, or the National Mall in DC, he was an architecture student under the tutelage of the godfather of Seattle landscape architecture Rich Haag.

PRT for you and me

One of the huge unknowns that will shape the future of our city scape will be the way we move through the city. Will we walk, ride, fly, or gyro, or will we use another system? In Britian, they are starting to use a new system called Personal Rapit Transit (PRT) at Heathrow. Eventually, it could be the way that we get to and fro in the city. Of course, this could all be sacrilege in our recently monorail-less city.

Sprawling Development = Sprawling Waistlines

Public Health officials from around the country have been increasingly turning to how the build environment affects public health and specifically the obesity epidemic. A new study that was recently covered in the Seattle Times published in JAPA comprise the most compelling evidence that our physical environmental conditions affect our health. "The King County results suggest 'current laws and regulations are producing negative health outcomes,' the authors warn."

The chance to create places that encourage public health is one of the key impetuses to the Open Space Seattle 2100 project. "The whole idea is to make walking something you don't even think about," [senior policy analyst Karen Wolf of Ron Sims' office] said. "It's part of your everyday life."

Selling the Dream

It's a microcosm of the entire system of development, Eric de Place of the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog posts a great exerpt from the early history of the outward expansion. This time it is heading out to the wildlands of Bothell.

No one who is normal can be content to remained imprisoned within the four walls of the modern stuffy apartment, with its lack of yard, grass plot, flower beds and garden for the kiddies' play and the family food.

Life to you must mean more than that. It must have freedom of both air and area to fully develop.

These, too, without the penalty of city taxes and with less expenditure of travel time than is experienced in many massed and narrowed neighborhoods.

Get your feet off the hard, distressing pavement of the city for at least the evening period of the day.

Leave behind the unattractive canyons of trade and turmoil. Rest your nerves and your soul for the next day's problems.

Do this midst your own fragrant flowers--on your own clover meadows, surrounded by the fruits of your own handiwork. THIS IS REAL LIVING.

All through life the worth-while man and woman yearns for just these things: an acre of rich, fragrant, deep meadow soil--surely a scarce commodity in Western Washington--that responds gladly to the vigorous and intelligent touch of ambitious and loving hands.

Now is the logical time to acquire that "DREAM PLACE." Values have never been so reasonable, and with real soil as the basis, your investment is sure to increase in value.

In a very few years any productive soil ten miles from the busy center will be considered choice and in great demand. VALUES WILL INCREASE considerably.

Hard surfaced highways and automobiles have brought the outer fringes of the city close enough in to suit particular people.

These tracts are but a mile beyond the city limits... YOU ARE NOT TAXED TO THE BONE.

How often have you felt that craving for the larger opportunity, the greater area for expansion, the garden of your dreams, where the wife and kiddies could relax without that dress-parade attitude, secure from public gaze?

This is hardly possible when confined to a midget city lot, and certainly impossible in a stuffy, noisy flat.

Love, health, freedom of action; an environment of lawns, blossoming trees, trailing berry vines, roses, and the succulent vegetable bed--all are a part of that dream, that yearning for better and bigger things. THEY ARE YOURS TO COMMAND.

TWENTY MINUTES in your own car from Pike and Fourth, or not more than a half-hour by comfortable auto bus, over the paved Bothell Highway, will land you at A REAL HOME.

Whether a merchant, manufacturer or salaried worker, you can live, laugh, and "be one with nature" in these fields of growing things, while less than a half-hour away by auto to the busy marts... the "maddening throng" of the stuff and noisy city will have no evening charms for you.

That connection to green spaces has been used to empty out the cities from the 50s thru the 80s and in the process, it is eating up those green spaces. That is the whole point of this process: to bring both the green and the people back to the city. It is about creating spaces for people, and, as those Greeks of old said, we are political creatures. Those green spaces are also places to meet and greet, see and be seen and have the conversations that make our entire democratic, and in Seattle extraordinarily populist system, happen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

OSS2100 on KUOW

I hope everyone can tune in to KUOW at 10 am tomorrow when Nancy Rottle, Open Space Seattle 2100 Co-Director and University of Washington Landscape Architecture Professor will be discussing the Open Space Seattle 2100 project and the Green Futures Charrette on weekday with Steve Scher.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Some Stats

With registration for the Green Futures Charrette now closed, some stats are in order:

Number of registrants: 316
Number of teams: 23
Far-flung participants from Vancouver, Portland, Spokane
Number of Study Areas with two teams: 5

All of these numbers speak volumes to the intensity of interest in the future of open space in the city. We look forward to seeing you all at the charrette on February 3+4 at the South Lake Union Armory.

Be sure to come to the Technical Panel and Charrette Orientation on Thursday, January 26th at City Hall.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Warm It Up . . . I'm About To

Lisa Stiffler of the PI covers a report from the SF Chronicle about the warming world and it's subtle effects on the west coast.

UW Climate Impacts Group
PI Climate Change Coverage
Puget Sound Action Change Climate Report

PI for the Creeks

Noting that carrots should also have sticks, the Seattle PI's editorial board endorsed the move to not allow development on in-city creeks, even if they are in pipes.

Kudos PI.

Restoring Our Natural Flood Protection

Rob Masonis, senior director of the American Rivers Northwest regional office, writes in today's PI on the need to restore our wetlands as natural flood protection measures. He reminds us:
"A single wetland acre, saturated to a depth of one foot, retains 330,000 gallons of water -- enough to flood 13 average-sized homes thigh deep."

CityRepair's Placemaking Workshop

CityRepair is going to be hosting a placemaking workshop on January 21st. It looks tremendous. Sign up now, because the word is that the spaces are filling up very very quickly.

Lining Up for Maya Lin

Very exciting news. Maya is coming.

Annual Distinguished Artist Lecture: Maya Lin
Thursday, April 20, 7 PM
Kane Hall, Room 130
Gold tickets (seating in the first ten rows): $40 non-member / $30 member
General seating: $25 non-member / $20 member / $10 student (with ID at Henry)
Ticket sales begin March 20
By Phone: 1.800.838.3006 (Brown Paper Tickets) or 206.616.9894 (Henry Art Gallery)

Perhaps more than any other public artist, Maya Lin has captured the heart and soul of the American people with her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and of the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Lin will discuss her current sculptural works on view at the Henry, as well as her work for the Confluence Project, a monumental series of seven sites currently underway along the Columbia River.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Speak for Seattle Creeks

The PI had an article highlighting the council's proposal to prevent building on piped creeks. Going back to the 2003 ballot measure that was throw out because citizen's measures can't dictate land use decisions, the proposal has long had advocates within the city. From stream stewards to environmental groups, this has long been a hot issue. Right now, the proposal is in front of the Energy and Environment Committee of the Council. To contact them:

Jean Godden, Chair
David Della, Member
Richard Conlin, Alternate
Tom Rasmussen, Alternate

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Platinum Buildings on the Cheap

Though slightly off topic, OSS2100's blogging audience might be interested in this fabulous free publication from Interface Engineering out of Portland. It outlines how they were able to achieve a LEED platinum rating on a project that did not have an overblown budget and had a solidly prosaic program.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

OSP . . . easy as 1, 2, 3

In a long overdue post about the P-I's coverage of the rising Olympic Sculpture Park on December 17. This particular article concentrates on the "brownfields" angle of the story: how old, contaminated land can be remediated to provide a public benefit.

We at OSS 2100 have been on the site during SAM's preconstruction meeting and let us assure you, this park, designed by Weiss/Manfredi in collaboration with the local landscape architecure firm of Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture, will sing. We look forward to opening day next summer.

Perhaps more importantly, the park does two things that will likely be critical as we look into the future of Seattle's open space: it addresses a site that is engaging with our Puget Sound neighbors by re-creating some of the shoreline of Elliott Bay so that salmon and other fish will have an easier go along the central waterfront, and it turns a "wasted" post-industrial space into a landmark public amenity (like Gas Works Park did in the 70s).

Arboretum Under Attack?

Larry Sinnott, who is active in several community groups within Seattle, sent us a note informing us that next week's Parks Commission meeting will be an opportunity to speak to the commissioners about the future of the Washington Park Arboretum as it relates to the future of the SR 520 floating bridges. He writes, "This is an extremely important hearing for park advocates tounderstand what is still being proposed and what our Parks Dept is doingto safe-guard our wonderfully rich parks heritage. "

What do you think should be the role of the arboretum in this transportation project? Should Seattle park roads be used as a feeder/on-ramp to the highway? What should happen with the old on-ramps to the R.H. Thompson Expressway?

If you would like to attend, the meeting is at 6pm on Thursday, January 12th at the Parks Headquarters on Dexter.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Designing Buildings to Prevent Climate Change

Just a quick note about the new organization called Architecture 2030 that seeks to create architectural works that do not contribute to greenhouse gases (as the building industry currently does).

A beautiful website, with some great content.

It's Raining . . . Rain Gardens

Natural Drainage and Rain Gardens in the High Point Redevelopment

The Seattle PI is all over the rain gardens these days. This time from their blog, Lisa Stiffler writes about a series of resourses and articles noting how even the small intervention of installing a rain garden can significantly reduce the amount of polluted water draining into the Puget Sound.

1/13/06 Update: With 26 straight days of rain, our friends over at the Cascade Scorecard Weblog (which also now runs Tidepool) take a look at some of the raingarden articles we've mentioned here. $600 to store 10,000 gallons of rain. Now that is a low-hanging fruit.

Environmental Science and Technology Online
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Rain Gardens
SDOT's Natural Drainage Overview
Puget Sound Action Team

Green Infrastructure for the Times

In today's Seattle Times, Mark Childs, our open space speaker from November, provides a kick start to our thinking about green space for the next century. He outlines four keys to thinking about a long term vision:

First, don't do it on the cheap. Keep high standards to create something that will last and that we can be invest pride in for the next century.

Second, infrastructure agencies (SPU, SDOT, etc) must be structured to support the open space network.

Third, a system that addresses the whole city needs to do just that: address the whole city. Not just downtown, but also the neighborhoods where we live.

Finally, Mr. Childs also invokes the power of imagination to inspire. What is the story that we will tell ourselves and our visitors about how the city works and how multi-functional greenspaces weave though out the entire city.

Thanks for that. Now it is time for us to imagine what it will be in the next century. Charrette registration continues until January 20, 2006 at

Monday, January 02, 2006

Safe Parks = Healthy Teens

Another report in a growing chorus of research that shows how open spaces/parks benefit in creating healthy citizens, this time from a UCLA study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

From the Smart Growth Resource Library