Master Plan Projects

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Supporting the enhancement of the Arboretum

Over the past 20 years, the Arboretum Foundation has conducted a number of targeted campaigns to help fund the Washington Park Arboretum’s comprehensive Master Plan, adopted in 2001.

Many major capital projects in the Plan have already been completed, including:

  • Duck Bay shoreline restoration (2005).
  • Installation of new irrigation mainlines to serve the entire Arboretum (2004 to present).
  • Construction of the new Japanese Garden Entry Gatehouse (2008 to 2009).
  • Phases 1 and 2 of the Pacific Connections Garden (2005 to 2013), including the Entry Gardens, Meadow, Cascadia Forest, Gateway to Chile, and New Zealand Forest.

Recent Projects

Restoring the Tsutakawa Memorial Gates

From 1976 to 2020, the Memorial Gates graced the north entry to the Washington Park Arboretum. Commissioned by the Arboretum Foundation, they were created by the artist George Tsutakawa (1910–1997) to commemorate all those who have loved and supported the Arboretum. On March 19, 2020, the Memorial Gates were stolen. The news was greeted with frustration and sadness by the many who appreciated the gates’ unique artistry and representation of place.

Shortly after the theft, a number of individuals contacted us to offer their support. We also met with the Tsutakawa family to discuss an effort to replace the Gates. We feel very fortunate to have Gerard Tsutakawa, who fabricated the original gates for his father, involved in the project. We set an initial goal of $150,000 to cover the cost of materials, fabrication, project management, site preparation, and gate installation. In August 2021, thanks to many generous donors, we surpassed our goal!

Gate fabrication took place in the spring and summer of 2022. Installation of the new gates took place in late summer 2022. A public celebration was held at the Graham Visitors Center on September 14, 2022.

Related Links

Arboretum Loop Trail

In 2013, the Arboretum Foundationworking with its partners in the Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committeesecured $7.8 million from the Washington State Department of Transportation as part of required mitigation for the effects of replacing the SR 520 Bridge. The funds were used to design and build a new multi-use trail on the east side of Lake Washington Boulevard and connect it to the existing Arboretum Drive to form a two-mile bike-and-pedestrian loop in the Arboretum.

The trail was designed by Berger Partnership, and the project included the partial daylighting of Arboretum Creek and restoration of the wetlands by the Birch Parking Lot. Construction began in early 2016 and was completed in late 2017. Hundreds of visitors came to celebrate the grand opening of the trail in April 2018. The trail improves access to hidden parts of the Arboretum collections and also provides a great new venue for recreation in our city.

Related Links

Washington Park Arboretum’s New Trail to Reveal Hidden Treasures (Seattle Times, cover story, May 5)

Designing and Implementing the Arboretum Loop Trail(Arboretum Bulletin, Spring 2015)

Design rendering courtesy Plomp.

Environmental Education Center

In 2016–17, the Foundation and UW Botanic Gardens raised funds to complete an in-depth pre-design study for the construction of a new environmental education center at the Arboretum. Our education programs, which serve 9,800 students a year, are currently housed in old, cramped, ill-fitted horticulture buildings. In early 2018, we hired the architectural firm Mithun to complete the study. The firm provided us with critical information needed to define the scope of the project, including preliminary concept designs, building cost estimates and timelines, permitting requirements, and parking needs.

In early December 2018, Mithun presented three site options for the new building at a public meeting in the Graham Visitors Center. The “linear option”—siting the building just south of the Visitors Center along Arboretum Drive—emerged as the preferred option in terms of student safety, impacts to the plant collection, and visitor experience. In 2019, Mithun fleshed out an exciting pre-design concept for the linear option. The Arboretum partners are now evaluating funding sources and ways to manage project costs in Seattle’s escalating construction market.

Related Links

Pre-Design Study Project Page, Seattle Parks and Recreation