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Thursday, March 10 • 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Freeway Park: Halprin's Answer to Superhighway Supremacy

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Funded largely by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the expansion of U.S. Interstate 5 through Seattle's urban core involved the moving or demolition of 4,500 existing buildings between 1960 and 1967. I-5 cut a path along the Downtown's eastern periphery, creating a two-to-three-block-wide  gouge that separated it from the Beacon Hill, First Hill and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.  In 1966, the noted California landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin, published his book, Freeways, in which he wrote both of the highway's artistic elements, seen particularly in their structural supports, and its destructive capacities. In most cases, Halprin realized that the auto's intrusion through urban areas brought serious challenges to pedestrian activities and public health. As part of Seattle’s Forward Thrust initiative in 1969, when funds for a broad array of public amenities were approved by city voters, money was allocated to build a lid over 5.5 acres above I-5. Due to his recent theorizing on freeways, Halprin was hired to build a natural oasis on top of the urban wound. He devised his Freeway Park <http://tclf.org/content/freeway-park-past-present-and-future> to have three sections or plazas, each of which had a distinct character suggested by the movement of water within each. The park's hardscape had the characteristic "brutalist" vocabulary that Halprin preferred in the 1970s, with planters constructed of board-formed concrete. Planters and berms had a vaguely natural look, akin to rock facings, but were shunned by many as cold and gloomy. Opened on July 4, 1976, the park has undergone many changes necessitated by the 1980s construction of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center nearby, vandalism and homeless encampments. Today, the park retains most of its original character, and ranks as one of Halprin's greatest and most under-utilized works. This tour will consider the reasons for its fame and notoriety, critical acclaim and public underuse.

Maximum Participants: 20

Fee: $10

Accessibility: Walking one mile, standing, navigating city streets

Transportation: Walk to and from Freeway Park. Meet your guide around the North Tower escalators on the Westin's Lobby Level before the 12:30 PM departure.

Thursday March 10, 2016 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Attendees (10)