Seattle Parks seeks feedback for the Washington Arboretum Environmental Education Center

Seattle Parks and Recreation will be gathering community feedback on preferred programming and preliminary designs for a new environmental education center in the Washington Park Arboretum on Wednesday, December 5.

SPR project manager Susanne Rockwell said the park’s master plan originally proposed to move Arboretum Drive from the west side of the Graham Visitors Center to the east, adjoining Broadmoor Golf Course. An environmental education center would then have been set up just west of the visitor center. The Master Plan Implementation Group decided not to follow that plan, Rockwell said, choosing to take inspiration from the famous Olmsted brothers who designed the arboretum.

There are three design concepts for the community to weigh in during a pre-design meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 5 at the Visitors Center, 2300 Arboretum Drive E.

The proposed site for the education center is south of the visitor center. Approximately 10,000 square feet of space is what SPR plans for the education center. One of the preliminary designs features a two-stage concept, Rockwell said.

The project is made possible through private donations and endowments through SPR’s partnership with the University of Washington Botanical Garden, which owns the arboretum’s plant collection, and the Arboretum Foundation. The two groups invested $200,000 for the pre-design study and architectural firm Mithun was selected through a request for proposals to assist with this phase of the project.

Rockwell said no taxpayer funding will be used for the project.

SPR is also planning to expand parking around campus from 49 spaces to 98.

Representatives from Mithun, UW Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Foundation will be at the December pre-design meeting to discuss with attendees programming needs that would meet the master plan, Rockwell said, as well as options for the location of the center. education: One option would be to relocate the maintenance barn, another would place it next to the visitor center, and the third option would place the facility slightly south of the Pat Calvert greenhouse; the greenhouse is planned to be moved in each scenario. It is currently used as an indoor classroom.

“They don’t really go into detail about the layout or any of that,” Rockwell said of the goals for the Dec. 5 meeting.

Once the costs are known, a fundraising campaign to finance the construction will begin. The master plan calls for training 20,000 students each year in non-academic classes.

“I anticipate it will be a few years before they have all the funding in hand,” Rockwell said.

SPR does not intend to impact the UW plant collection.

“There are trees, one of the areas we are looking at with the old nursery. They had planted trees, and some of them grew,” Rockwell said, adding that all significant trees would be moved. “But we’re not touching anything from the collection, which I think is the most important thing.”

The environmental education center will have to meet LEED gold standards, but SPR also aims to qualify for the Living Building Challenge green building certification program.

Rockwell said the environmental sustainability of the center will be an educational opportunity in itself, and the green stormwater infrastructure will also prevent untreated runoff from entering Duck Bay as it does now.

“It’s really about looking at what the needs are, how big does the building need to be to meet the needs of the education program, and then really knowing what the fundraising campaign should be,” Rockwell told about the next meeting.

While Mithun prepares the pre-design study of the projectRockwell said another RFP will be issued for a final design architect.

The further south the center is from the visitor center, the more costs there will be for additional utilities.

“Right now, utilities stop at the Graham Visitors Center, and there’s no fiber optic cable,” Rockwell said.

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