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

Illustrative Plan

This plan shows how the proposed “Westlake Gardens: Urban Watershed as Urban Flow” would fit in with the existing urban fabric. “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.

Outdoor Rooms and Activity Areas

This plan shows six blocks of Westlake Avenue. A promenade and sequence of outdoor rooms support a variety of activities: walking to and from work, meeting a friend, shopping, playing with your kid, encountering other species, watching stormwater treatment, tending a garden, and watching the world go by. In response to Westlake Avenue’s place within the Lake Union watershed, stormwater is captured and drained through a series of aesthetic demonstration projects that lead to Lake Union. “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.

Day Care/Eco-Lab Features “Water as Habitat”

This image shows an outdoor room that includes an environmental play area adjacent to a skyscraper with a day care center at street level. Using thoroughfares and gathering places as metaphoric urban streams with flows and eddies, “Westlake Gardens: Urban Watershed as Urban Flow” applies a new typology of the street as urban watershed—demonstrating poetic and functional ways to capture, reveal, use, and reuse water. A promenade and sequence of outdoor rooms support a variety of activities. “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.

Café/Plaza features “Water as Performer”

This image shows an outdoor room with café and plaza surrounded by a biofiltration system that collects and treats stormwater from surrounding streets. Using thoroughfares and gathering places as metaphoric urban streams with flows and eddies, “Westlake Gardens: Urban Watershed as Urban Flow” applies a new typology of the street as urban watershed—demonstrating poetic and functional ways to capture, reveal, use, and reuse water. A promenade and sequence of outdoor rooms support a variety of activities. “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.

Community Garden/Cafe Features “Water as Irrigation”

This image shows an outdoor room that includes a wide promenade, parking, traffic lanes, cafes, farmer’s markets, and community gardens that connect people to the cycle of food. Using thoroughfares and gathering places as metaphoric urban streams with flows and eddies, “Westlake Gardens: Urban Watershed as Urban Flow” applies a new typology of the street as urban watershed—demonstrating poetic and functional ways to capture, reveal, use, and reuse water. A promenade and sequence of outdoor rooms support a variety of activities. “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.

Pre-existing Conditions

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. “Westlake Gardens: Urban Watershed as Urban Flow” is a 4 block promenade/city park with activities that bring people out into the street. In response to Westlake Avenue’s place within the Lake Union watershed, stormwater is captured and drained through a series of aesthetic demonstration projects that lead to Lake Union.

Project Credits

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