Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Land Use Planner, Environmental Observer

Saturday, August 1, 2009

industrial landscapes / Gas Works Park

CEMEX cement plant
Davenport, California

I have to admit that I find something really fascinating about industrial plants - the tubes, pipes, catwalks, supports...

Was it the Erector sets or the Tinker Toys I played with as a child? Maybe it's deeper and it's the symbolism of 19th and early 20th century engineering. These are like sets of science fiction movies...

On the other hand, take a look a the Pompidou Center in Paris !!


In Seattle, there is a large park set on the former site of the Seattle Gas Works.

Richard Haag, Landscape Architect
decided to keep the "works" as monumental sculpture in a park setting...

Urban reclamation has no greater monument in Seattle than Gas Works Park. The former power station here produced gas for heating and lighting from 1906 to 1956. The gas works was thereafter understandably considered an eyesore and an environmental menace. But the park's beautiful location - with stellar views of downtown over Lake Union - induced the city government to convert the former industrial site into a public park in 1975.

Rather than tear down the factory, landscape architects preserved much of the old plant. Painted black and now highlighted with rather joyful graffiti, it looks like some odd remnant from a former civilization. It also makes a great location for shooting rock album covers and music videos.

The soil and groundwater beneath the park still contain chemical contamination. Though this apparently poses no health risks to humans, state government and environmental agencies occasionally close the park to complete various cleanup and research projects.

Despite its toxic history, this is still one of Seattle's best-loved parks. People come here to fly kites, picnic near the lake, or simply to take in the view. And it is like nothing else you've ever seen. Be sure to climb the small hill in order to see the sundial at the top, one of the best places from which to photograph Seattle's skyline.

- from Lonely Planet review

(The photos above are from Jessica Palmer and
are available for sale)

Jessica Palmer is a biologist & artist currently based in Washington, DC.
She received her PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from
UCBerkeley, spent the last few years teaching at a small state college out West,
and is now exploring science policy and communications.

.... be sure to see some of her remarkable
biologically based illustrations (click here)

. . .

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