Westlake Gardens

WESTLAKE GARDENS: URBAN WATERSHED AS URBAN FLOW “Westlake Gardens: urban watershed as urban flow” highlights the hybrid and changing nature of Seattle’s urban landscape by expressing the performative aspect of social and ecological processes. A layering of multiple urban flows yields a beautiful infrastructure of streets, water, parks, lights, and people, all spilling down to Lake Union. The project weaves together local influences of watershed ecosystems, sustainable technologies, and culture to yield a richly layered place responsive to Seattle’s unique topography, weather, and water bodies. Physically, Westlake Avenue is a wide, dysfunctional street that cuts across the regular pattern of the urban street grid; it is also the low point of the area, resembling an abandoned stream bed that once drained to Lake Union. Applying a new typology of the street as urban watershed, the design demonstrates both poetic and functional ways to capture, reveal, use, and treat water. “Westlake Gardens: urban watershed as urban flow” draws people out into the streets with a diverse promenade and series of outdoor rooms. The open space can be conceived as a stage set for activities and acts as a theater to engage the pedestrian. By unifying nature, culture, and technology, this street as urban watershed immerses people in an aesthetic expression of the complex systems that make up our urban ecology. The project expresses an aesthetic of rain to animate, connect, and dramatize both landscape and built forms, providing:
1. an experience of water’s flow, color, texture, light, and sound
2. an urban laboratory that defines “the street as an urban watershed”—a response to the topography of Lake Union Watershed
3. an integrated system of architecture and landscape that slows, reveals, & treats water, including eco-roofs; architectural downspouts/siding/cascades; cisterns; streams; and ponds
4. a means of irrigating shared landscapes and sustaining habitat
5. a method of educating people about ways to treat urban water flow PROJECT CREDITS:
Lorna Jordan, Concept and Design Team Leader In association with Mithun Architects & Planners, Heartland; and Coughlin, Porter & Lundeen