Dreaming of Landscapes Has Moved!

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Dreaming of Landscapes has moved to its new self hosted space. You can find it at binglestudios.com.


My First Article in Washington

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          This past August, I took over as the editor of the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA) newsletter. I have not been writing much as I have adjusted to the shift from writer to editor. I returned to the realm of writing this month with the publication of an article in the WASLA newsletter on a design charrette WASLA hosted in the small town of Wilkeson, Washington. I am reposting the complete article below because it is only available through WASLA’s emailed newsletter.

Wilkeson Charrette

Photo of Wilkeson, WA by Allisa Carlson, PLA, LEED AP

On a rainy October weekend, WASLA and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (NPS) came together to create a vision for the development of the Town of Wilkeson’s historic and natural resources. Wilkeson is a town of 477 residents in rural Pierce County. The town is historically significant as a source of sandstone, coal and coke in the late 19th and early 20th century. The charrette focused on the remains of Wilkeson’s coke ovens and the development of the site around them into a regional park.

Between 1890 and 1930, Wilkeson had 160 coke ovens producing coke for use in steel production. Today, 30 coke ovens remain in various states of decay. The Town of Wilkeson owns the land around the coke ovens and would like to develop the site into a premier regional park that:

  • Restores, preserves and protects the historic coke ovens
  • Provides educational opportunities (Washington State’s longest operating school is in Wilkeson)
  • Supports a variety of community events (The town currently uses the site for hand car and lawn mower races)
  • Meets basic park user needs for safety, accessibility and enjoyment

Participants met on October 19th for a tour of the site provided by Wilkeson’s mayor Donna Hogerhuis and the National Park liaison Bryan Bowden. Everyone then adjourned to the local Eagles Lodge for dinner and a meet-and-greet with local residents. Highlights included a prime rib or vegetarian lasagna dinner and a tour of the Eagles Lodge meeting hall and poker room. The evening wrapped up with a presentation by Mayor Hogerhuis on the history of Wilkeson. Participants then broke up to spend the night with local residents, in the Wilkeson fire station and a local motel.

Participants reconvened at 7am in the Eagles Lodge for breakfast before kicking off the charrette at 8. The charrette was broken into four teams: the Interpretation Team, the Community Events Team, the Trails Team and the Master Plan Team. The charrette began with participants and residents jumping between each group to generate ideas. Then each team settled down to generate a set of drawings and documents the city could use in the future.

The Interpretation Team developed a number of suggestions to preserve the coke ovens and provided educational and interpretational opportunities. The team suggested creating a full size model of the coke ovens that visitors could explore and touch. A barrier would surround the existing coke ovens to limit damage from human interaction. The team also developed a list of significant spots in the park and town. They generated an interpretation outline for these spots and a signage system to create a unified experience.

The Community Events Team explored ways to support the town’s existing and future use of the space. This centered on an amphitheater that would provide space for the current hand cart and lawn mower races. The amphitheater could also serve as a space for future concerts, bike rides and other events.

The trails and connectivity team proposed a series of trails that would provide access to the interpretive stops and community event spaces. The team also proposed connecting the park trail system into the Foothills Trail via a trail through town. Currently, the Foothills Trail ends on Wilkeson’s north boundary and does not continue through town. The team also proposed future connections to a possible museum at the Wilkeson Quarry.

Finally, the master plan team tied all of the pieces together. Their plan highlighted each proposal and provided a cohesive vision for the park. WASLA, NPS and the Town of Wilkeson were very pleased with all the products produced by the landscape architects, students and volunteers. The Town of Wilkeson plans to use these documents and vision as a critical piece of their grant application to develop Coke Oven Park. WASLA would like to wish the Town of Wilkeson the best of luck and thank them for the opportunity to work on this project. WASLA would also like to thank the landscape architects, students, volunteers, and residents who made this project possible.

Master Plan Photo by Allisa Carlson, PLA, LEED AP

Landscape Architects
Don Benson (WASLA President, Event Co-coordinator), Jan Swattherthwaite, Bronwen Carpenter, Matt Mathes, Ned Gulbran, Bob Droll, Andy Mitton, Jim Brennan, Allisa Carlson

Local Parties
Bryan Bowden (National Park Service, Event Co-Coordinator), Buzz Grant (Foothills Trail Coalition President), Greg Griffith (Washington State Historic Preservation Office), Hollie Rogge (Pierce County Parks and Recreation)

Jordan Monez (ASLA), Laura Barker (National Parks Volunteer), Logan Bingle (ASLA), Ole Sleipness (ASLA, WSU Professor

AJ Babauta (WSU, landscape architecture), Bryan Inglin (WSU, landscape architecture), Jeff Hall (WSU, landscape architecture), Jonathan Dingman (WSU, landscape architecture), Jonathan Duran (WSU, landscape architecture), Lucas Vannice (WSU, landscape architecture), Nick Boyce (UW, landscape architecture), Toree Miller (WSU, interior design), Wuttiporn Taksinvarajam (UW, landscape architecture)

Becky Gilbert (Former Town Council), Betty LaCrosse (Resident), Bill Summers (Eagles Lodge Trustee & Booster Club President), Chris Lyons (Distillery Owner), Donna Hogerhuis (Mayor), Florence Fabiani (Wilkeson Historical Society), Jeff Sellers (Former Town Council), Kathy James (Town Planner), Keith Quimby (Distillery Owner), Lisa Grace (Wilkeson Elementary Teacher), Mark Thompson (Civil Engineer), Nick Hedman (Town Council), Robert Bean (Saloon Owner), Sherrian Robertson (Wilkeson Historical Society), Sue Hallin (Town Council), Sunny Bean (Saloon Owner), Trisha Summers (Wilkeson Council Member)



Jack Block Park: A Window on the Port of Seattle

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The Port of Seattle container yard stretches into the distance framed by the West Seattle Bridge and a container crane.

Most landscape architects are familiar with Seattle’s Gas Works Park. Designed by Richard Haag, Gas Works Park and several German parks launched a new design movement that preserved and celebrated industrial landscapes. However, Seattle is filled with parks that not only celebrate past industrial activity but provide a window onto working industrial landscapes.

My favorite example is Jack Block Park in West Seattle. Like many of Seattle’s industrial parks, Jack Block is hidden behind railroad tracks and freight containers. The only sign of the park is an arched gate and a road winding away into the Port of Seattle’s train yard. Following this road, visitors find themselves immersed in an island of green on the edge of Elliot Bay with stunning views of the Port of Seattle and downtown.

This week’s sketch was done on the Jack Block Park observation platform. The platform offers a 180 degree view of Elliot bay and is a perfect place to watch the parade of freighters, ferries, cruise ships and pleasure craft using the port. The sketch shows the view to the south, dominated by the Port’s container yard and cranes with the West Seattle Bridge in the distance.

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A train car waits to be loaded in the Port of Seattle’s train yard.

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