Seattle Downtown Medley

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On a chilly December day, I took my car to the Downtown Toyota Dealership to be serviced and took the day to sketch my impressions of Downtown Seattle. My experience was one of colossal towers and intimate details. I could never include the sky in my drawings because the buildings always dominated the page.

I also had trouble maintaining proportions in these drawings because the scene extended beyond my line of sight. This resulted in most of the skyscrapers being shortened in my sketches.

This drawing is a bird's eye view of Westlake Center Plaza. On the bottom is the top of the holiday merry-go-round and the monolithic entrance to the Cascading Water Monument. In the background, Century Square looms over the public space.

This drawing is a bird’s eye view of Westlake Center Plaza. On the bottom is the top of the holiday merry-go-round and the monolithic entrance to the Cascading Water Monument. In the background, Century Square looms over the public space.

I drew this sketch of the intersection of 4th and Pike from the counter of a Seattle's Best Coffee. This was fortuitous because Pike Street is the fiction location of Cafe Nervosa in the 1990s Seattle Sitcom Frasier.

I drew this sketch of the intersection of 4th and Pike from the counter of a Seattle’s Best Coffee. This was fortuitous because Pike Street is the fiction location of Cafe Nervosa in the 1990s Seattle Sitcom Frasier.

Sketches of Olympic Tower from the top of the Westlake Center Mall.

Sketches of Olympic Tower from the top of the Westlake Center Mall.

Olympic Tower was originally named the United Shopping Tower and housed a variety of retail businesses. Unfortunately, these businesses never experienced financial success due to the stock market crash shortly after the building’s grand opening in 1929. It was converted to offices in 1932 and has housed a variety of tenants since. The building was renamed the Olympic Tower in the 1980s when it was occupied by Olympic Savings.

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All sketches on Dreaming of Landscapes are available as art prints for $15.

 

 

 

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Latest Article for the Washington ASLA: Maintenance Planning

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This is a reprint of an article that appeared in the December edition of the newsletter for the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA).

Most landscape architects know that maintenance is an important element of landscapes, but landscape architects are rarely involved in the maintenance of the landscapes they design. This is beginning to change. This past October at the Green Gardening Workshop an entire session was dedicated to a presentation of the maintenance plan for Seola Gardens prepared by Johnson and Southerland. Intrigued, I took some time to talk with Margaret Johnson ASLA, LEED AP about the emerging field of maintenance planning and what it could mean for landscape architects.

Seola Gardens is a affordable housing development in the Roxbury Neighborhood of Seattle built by the King County Housing Authority. Several years after completion, the King County Housing Authority began to notice that the landscape did not match with their landscape vision. They worked with the maintenance crew but miscommunications resulted in frustration and a landscape that still did not match the management team’s vision. Finally, the King County Housing Authority asked Johnson Southerland to develop a landscape maintenance plan for them. Working with a team of horticulturalists and arborists, Johnson Southerland condensed the King County Housing Authority’s landscape vision into a series of maintenance goals and standards and developed¬† a yearly maintenance schedule. They also provided illustrations showing when and how plants should be planted and how to prune shrubs.

Johnson Southerland had past experience with the King County Housing Authority. Several years previously, Johnson Southerland developed a series of maintenance plans for several King County Housing Authority apartment building landscapes. These guides aimed to provide the property managers with a simple system to maintain the value of their landscapes. However, these plans ended up on shelves and were forgotten by the time new property managers too over the property.

Margaret Johnson feels that Seola Gardens has been successful because the maintenance plan provides a few simple steps that the property management team can take to insure that everyone involved with the landscape is included in decisions about the landscape and understands the landscape vision. At Seola Gardens the maintenance plan calls for a biannual meeting in the fall and spring of the landscape architect, arborist, maintenance team and managers. The group reviews the past six months, tours the property and sets priorities for the next six months. This allows everyone involved with the landscape to help in creating a consistent landscape vision and setting goals to achieve this vision.

Despite the success of Seola Gardens, gaps still exist in our knowledge of maintenance planning. Margaret Johnson pointed to mulch as one example. Over the last decade, she has seen an oscillation between bark mulch and compost as the mulch of choice. However, there is little scientific evidence to support favoring one type of mulch over another. Currently, there is research underway to answer some of the questions surrounding maintenance, such as the work of Linda Chalker-Scott at Washington State University.

It seems assured that landscape maintenance plans will become increasingly important in the future. The Sustainable Sites Initiative features an entire section for maintenance and operations. In addition, maintenance plans preserve the value of landscapes, improve communication amongst landscape professionals and property management staff and reduce the use of resources in the landscape. These benefits and continuing work in the field of maintenance planning is sure to bring new energy and excitement to the profession of landscape architecture.

SAM’s Porcelain Room

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A section of the porcelain collection. Most of the pieces in this view are from England  though the plate at bottom center is from Germany. All of the pieces date to the mid 18th century.

A section of the porcelain collection. Most of the pieces in this view are from England though the plate at bottom center is from Germany. All of the pieces date to the mid 18th century.

Deep in the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is a windowless room filled with floor to ceiling cases displaying several thousand years of porcelain. Porcelain was first developed in China during the Eastern Han Dynasty (196-220 CE) and was refined during the following Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE). Porcelain is extremely strong because the clay and stone dust used to create porcelain has a high content of quartz and mica. This allows for the thin ceramics and transparency associated with fine china wares.

Following the Tang dynasty, porcelains became a major export and were highly prized in Europe. European aristocrats and wealthy merchants collected porcelain and displayed their collections in rooms, which inspired SAM’s porcelain room. The porcelain room fashion reached its height under Augustus the Strong, King of Poland, who built an entire palace to house his 20,000 piece porcelain collection.

Today porcelain is used in a wide range of applications. Toilets are the most common example, but porcelain’s strength lends it to many industrial and commercial applications as well. Porcelain insulators are used on high voltage power lines, and porcelain tiling is used extensively in the building industry.

This ten sided dish is from 18th century Japan and was originally a piece in Augustus the Strong's porcelain palace. The scene on the dish shows a cat crouching next to some bonsai and bamboo.

This ten sided dish is from 18th century Japan and was originally a piece in Augustus the Strong’s porcelain palace. The scene on the dish shows a cat crouching next to some bonsai and bamboo.

Want to learn more about the SAM’s porcelain collection? Visit here

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All sketches on Dreaming of Landscapes are available as art prints for $15.

 

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