Landscape Architecture – The Art of Connecting and Healing People

Celebrating WLAM 2022

April is World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM). For the month-long celebration, the American Society of Landscape Architects has posed, “What is landscape architecture? What does landscape architecture mean to you?

Although ASLA’s prompt is broad, it got AHBL’s landscape architecture teams thinking about the significance of open spaces and their programming. AHBL’s landscape architects are committed to designing spaces for gathering, education, and community building. AHBL is featuring projects that inspire community gathering, curiosity, learning, and health and well-being in recognition of WLAM.

132nd Square Park, City of Kirkland | Kirkland, WA

Project Features - Open Space Programming, Access to Green Space, Community-Based Design

City of Kirkland, 132nd Square Park_Entrance_Perspective
Rendering by AHBL

Developing landscape designs that gather communities and those with the widest range of users in mind is an important aspect of helping to get the most out of open spaces. AHBL was able to accomplish this aspect on the 132nd Square Park in Kirkland, Washington. The park has long been considered a community gem, much loved for its neighborhood feel and quaint programming. There was a wide cross-section of park users and gaining their input was incredibly valuable to ensure the final park design satisfied that wide user base. During the stormwater retrofit and master planning process, AHBL created a robust public involvement process with creative outreach methods that connected to the broad base of users. The results provided clarity for the project team and opened the door for additional communication to find a compromise in the eventual plan. After public input and completion of the park master plan, the Kirkland City Council added funds to the stormwater retrofit project adding providing a lighted synthetic turf field, additional parking, new playground equipment, picnic shelters, and restroom and storage buildings. The expanded features provided important enhancements for connecting users during not only recreation and play, but also for community gatherings and celebrations at the park. The park is scheduled to open in the summer of 2022. 

Highline High School, Highline Public Schools | Burien, WA

Project Features - Green Stormwater Infrastructure, Outdoor Learning Environments, Active Outdoor Spaces

Highline HS - Planting & PlazaCreating spaces that bring communities together can go beyond our neighborhood park. For example, AHBL provided landscape architecture for the Highline High School in Burien, Washington, to accompany the renovation of the facility. In addition to the landscape designs for the site access, street frontage, and circulation and parking areas, imaginative designs were incorporated into the gathering spaces at the site. The unique features include gathering areas for informal recreation and dining, dedicated outdoor learning, and a generous central entry plaza with seating. The plaza has a beautiful ornamental rain garden with the dual purpose of providing a stunning viewing hub, but also collects and slows stormwater entering the storm system. Another unique feature created with a dual purpose in mind is the succession demonstration garden representing the various stages of ecological succession. The garden also provides additional teaching spaces. 

Shaw Middle School Replacement, Spokane Public Schools | Spokane, WA

Project Features - Integrated Spaces and Amenities, Accessible Open Spaces, Outdoor Learning/Socializing Spaces

Other ways that AHBL has been involved in creating dynamic spaces that help people connect are on the Shaw Middle School Replacement and the new On Track Academy projects, which is a part of a larger 33-acre mixed-use campus named the Hillyard Community Campus in Northeast Spokane, Washington. In addition to the middle school, the campus is home to libraries and medical, dental, early learning, and senior and social services facilities. The top priority for the landscape plan was creating integrated design features and amenities that connect the middle school and academy with the overall campus design. The landscape creates connections on the campus that encourages social and emotional learning between age groups, schools, and community services. The AHBL design team included natural landscapes that are visible from classrooms, cafeterias, and other social spaces within the buildings.  

So the next time you find yourself enjoying time at your favorite park or open space, remember to celebrate the enduring joy that landscape architects contribute not only during the month of April, but year-round.

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