The Evolution of Green Space in Seattle’s Tech Town

Mobile Workshop

The workshop will highlight Seattle’s distinctive approach to balancing the demands for economic development, parks and open space, historic preservation, and housing affordability. Embark on a captivating 2-mile walking tour through the heart of Seattle’s South Lake Union, a neighborhood best known for its transformation from a sleepy warehouse district to a global technology boomtown.
The neighborhood and its relation with parks and recreation has a rich and varied history: it’s home to Lake Union Park and Denny Park, Seattle’s first municipal park and Seattle Parks and Recreation’s headquarters. In the 1990s the neighborhood was proposed for conversion to “the Commons,” a 60-acre city-center park. Voters rejected that plan twice and the neighborhood took a different path. Through the lens of urban design and social history, this 2-mile walking tour showcases the neighborhood’s origins as a native fishing village, recent adaptive reuse of former industrial properties, multiple approaches to historic preservation, REI’s flagship store, a surprising amount of affordable housing intermixed with market-rate development, and contrasting community spaces. History and streetscapes interweave to tell a compelling story of continuity and change.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Identify the historical significance of three parks, and understand how each reflects a unique moment in the neighborhood's century-long evolution.
  • Discuss how urban design influences and is influenced by socioeconomic factors.
  •  Discuss the adaptive reuse of a half-dozen former industrial properties, outlining insights into the innovative approaches employed to repurpose these spaces and contribute to the neighborhood's revitalization.
  • Outline the City’s approach to balancing competing demands for economic development, parks and open space, historic preservation, and housing affordability.