Seattle Plans Remodel of World’s First Freeway Cap Park

The Brutalist design by a famed landscape architect will be preserved, but not without better visibility and improved lighting.

1 minute read

April 19, 2018, 8:00 AM PDT

By Katharine Jose


Seattle Freeway Park

Nmnmnm112211 / Wikimedia Commons

Seattle is moving forward with “preservation-minded” renovations on Freeway Park, which was designed by the late modern landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and built in 1976.

While it is widely considered to be the “world’s first freeway cap park,” and therefore the first example of what has become a wildly popular strategy for making American cities more livable, The Architect’s Newspaper reports that in the last several decades, “the Brutalist park had fallen into severe disrepair, and residents said that they avoid the somewhat isolated park for safety reasons.”

"The park’s mid-life crisis is a common one for late modern structures and landscapes," Antonio Pacheco wrote several months ago, noting that potential changes include better pedestrian visibility and more lighting.As the doggedly polemical works of the 1970s and 1980s begin to age, their often austere faces are being met with interventions aimed at softening the edges a bit.”

Funding for the renovation comes partly from grants obtained by the Freeway Park Association and, if approved by the city council, partly from funding related to the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center; incidentally, the same public benefits package may partially finance a second cap park over the same downtown freeway.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 in The Architect's Newspaper

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