A Word About Landscape Architecture and Garden Design

Posts tagged ‘Volunteer Park’

Transforming Volunteer Park’s Reservoir

The future of Volunteer Park’s reservoir as a reflecting pond looks bright.  As mentioned in past blog posts, City officials will reach a decision in the next few years about whether to “lid” the reservoir or decommission it.  Either way, this significant water basin will look better than in the past, because Volunteer Park’s new status as a Seattle landmark means that changes to the reservoir will have to be consistent with its historic value as a reflecting pond viewed from the plaza in front of the Asian Art Museum.  The unsightly chain link fences keeping people out can come down and a wading pool or reflecting pond can be installed, filling the basin to the brim.  This exciting turn of events was reported in Valerie Easton’s column, “The Natural Gardener,” in the September 29, 2013 edition of the Seattle Times’ “Pacific NW” magazine.  The article featured Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s sketch rendering of the reservoir re-conceived as a model boating basin.  Already several local model boat racing clubs have expressed enthusiasm at the idea!

Improvements to the reservoir in the offing also underscore the opportunity to re-create the “Sunset Promenade” envisioned by the park’s original  landscape architects, The Olmsted Brothers.  As Doug Bayley, chair of the Volunteer Park Trust put it in the “Pacific NW” article, “We want to create a promenade where people could stroll and watch the sun go down over the city and the water.”  And as Valerie Easton concluded, “That sweeping westward view now incoludes the Space Needle, a sight never imagined when the Olmsted Brothers designed the venerable park.”

Volunteer park sketch low res

Advertisements

Volunteer Park Landmark Designation Wins Historic Seattle Preservation Award By Brooks Kolb, ASLA

At the Fourth Annual Historic Seattle Preservation Awards Ceremony, held at the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood on May 15, 2012, The Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (FSOP) received the Community Advocacy Award for the Volunteer Park Landmark Designation.  One of eight awards given by Historic Seattle in 2012, the Community Advocacy Award commemorates FSOP’s hard work first to prepare the Landmark Nomination document for Volunteer Park and then to lead it through the review and approval process by Seattle’s Board of Landmark Preservation. 

 

The Landmark Board applauded our presentation of the nomination in September, 2011, voting unanimously to approve the nomination and later to designate Volunteer Park as a Seattle landmark.  As a board member and then president of FSOP from 2008-2011, I led a 5-year long committee effort to research and write the nomination and submit it to the Landmark board.  The other three committee members contributing to the nomination are past FSOP treasurer and chief author Charlie Sundberg; past FSOP vice president and co-author Sue Nicol; and current president and editor Jennifer Ott, who graciously received the award on behalf of FSOP at the May 15 ceremony. 

 

In a beautifully produced booklet for the awards ceremony, Historic Seattle wrote:  “The Community Advocacy Award goes to the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (FSOP) for the arduous work involved in preparing a complex and successful landmark nomination application for Volunteer Park.  The organization’s documentation of this complicated and highly significant cultural landscape serves to insure the preservation of Volunteer Park and fosters the on-going recognition of our unique citywide Olmsted legacy.  Realizing that Volunteer Park was the most comprehensively designed and faithfully preserved component within the citywide Olmsted-designed plan for the Seattle Park system, FSOP board members prepared…an impressive 110-page document that provides a thorough description of the park’s landscape features and elements as a whole, as well as specifically documents various component buildigns, structures, monuments and water features and small-scale design elements.  It includes in-depth contextual information regarding the national, local and neighborhood significance of the Seattle work of the Olmsted firm and the history and evolution of the park itself.”

Plans Announced to Form a Trust for Volunteer Park

The Volunteer Park Reservoir re-envisioned as a reflecting pond with cascading edges and model boats.

As it celebrates its first centennial this summer, Volunteer Park is at a historic crossroads. On May 31, 2012, the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (FSOP) hosted a meeting of Capitol Hill citizens, businessmen and park neighbors at the Seattle AsianArt Museum to garner support and feedback for creating a trust to manage and maintainVolunteerPark.  As past president of FSOP, I was one of four presenters at the well-attended event, and the proposal was greeted with enthusiasm.  Capitalizing on momentum from the park’s designation as a City landmark last fall, FSOP has been working closely with the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (SPR) and the Seattle Parks Foundation in recent months to explore the concept, which addresses five pressing needs facing the park. 

First, in an era when DPR’s budget for parks maintenance has been cut back severely due to the recession, a trust would assure a dependable and ongoing source of funding and also exceed today’s reduced funding level.  Second, within the next two years the reservoir is slated to be de-commissioned or lidded to meet new federal guidelines.  Meanwhile, the museum will be closed for well more than a year, and possibly several years, while delayed safety and seismic improvements are made to the structure.  Fourth, the Conservatory’s operations funding has been threatened by City budget cuts at a time when a capitol improvement program to replace the aging wood structural skeleton with a new aluminum matrix has been stalled, also for insufficient funds.  Lastly, the park is in need of new and replacement planting to restore the layers of tree canopy, understory shrubbery and ground covers that were part of the original Olmsted  planting design concept.  SPR is currently designing the new plantings, following the original Olmsted planting plan, but there are no funds available for implementation.

Creating a trust could pump new resources and social energy into all five of these separate areas of need by unifying them within an over-arching program to manage the park for the next 100 years.  Many synergies are to be had, not least of which is re-activation of daytime and especially summer evening events in the park, such as concerts and plays.  Shared programming between the museum, conservatory, band stand and even the water tower could expand enthusiasm for what is actually a miniature cultural center within the park.  At the same time, the trust will help foster public awareness that the park itself is the real jewel, not merely its component buildings and institutions. 

In the coming months, FSOP and SPR will be studying several models of parks conservancies around the United States to figure out which model works best forSeattle.  We will also be working on an even broader goal – to create an Olmsted Trust, covering all the Seattle Olmsted parks and boulevards.  It is expected that the  Trust  for Volunteer Park will be housed within that umbrella organization.  If you’re interested in more information or in “Volunteering for the Park,” please send an e-mail to volparktrust@gmail.com.

Volunteer Park Landmark Designation Wins Historic Seattle Preservation Award By Brooks Kolb, ASLA

Volunteer Park Reservoir and Gate House

At the Fourth Annual Historic Seattle Preservation Awards Ceremony, held at the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood on May 15, 2012, The Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (FSOP) received the Community Advocacy Award for the Volunteer Park Landmark Designation.  One of eight awards given by Historic Seattle in 2012, the Community Advocacy Award commemorates FSOP’s hard work first to prepare the Landmark Nomination document for Volunteer Park and then to lead it through the review and approval process by Seattle’s Board of Landmark Preservation.  The Landmark Board applauded our presentation of the nomination in September, 2011, voting unanimously to approve the nomination and later to designate Volunteer Park as a Seattle landmark.

As a board member and then president of FSOP from 2008-2011, I led a 5-year long committee effort to research and write the nomination and submit it to the Landmark board.  The other three committee members contributing to the nomination are past FSOP treasurer and chief author Charlie Sundberg; past FSOP vice president and co-author Sue Nicol; and current president and editor Jennifer Ott, who graciously received the award on behalf of FSOP at the May 15 ceremony.

In a beautifully produced booklet for the awards ceremony, Historic Seattle wrote:

“The Community Advocacy Award goes to the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (FSOP) for the arduous work involved in preparing a complex and successful landmark nomination application for Volunteer Park.  The organization’s documentation of this complicated and highly significant cultural landscape serves to insure the preservation of Volunteer Park and fosters the on-going recognition of our unique citywide Olmsted legacy.

Realizing that Volunteer Park was the most comprehensively designed and faithfully preserved component within the citywide Olmsted-designed plan for the Seattle Park system, FSOP board members prepared…an impressive 110-page document that provides a thorough description of the park’s landscape features and elements as a whole, as well as specifically documents various component buildigns, structures, monuments and water features and small-scale design elements.  It includes in-depth contextual information regarding the national, local and neighborhood significance of the Seattle work of the Olmsted firm and the history and evolution of the park itself.”

Brooks Kolb Wins 2 Awards in May, 2012!

I am pleased to announce that as a key member of two terrific professional teams, I was the recipient of two awards in May, 2012.   First, on May 15, The Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks received Historic Seattle’s Community Advocacy Award for the Volunteer Park Seattle Landmark Designation at the Fourth Annual Preservation Awards Ceremony, held at the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.  Then, on May 24, Team Ripple’s design entry for Luxe Magazine’s “Barkitecture” event and auction, held at the Seattle Design Center, won the award in the “Best Work of Art” category.  It is not often that I can boast of two awards in one month:  it has never happened before!  Look for more detailed information about both awards in two forthcoming blog entries.