Providing Connections: A Wetland Boardwalk
Hanson, Marian Frances
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As part of their Northwest Stream Center located in Snohomish County, Washington, Adopt-a-Stream Foundation plans to add a boardwalk route through the wetland site adjacent to their building to provide an outdoor learning area for wetland education. This report is the culmination of my on-site inventory, research, process and design proposal for this boardwalk route that combine to fulfill my capstone project for the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Washington. Site inventory covers the watershed, hydrology, soil, vegetation, wildlife, human interest, and potential concerns. Vegetation and experiential maps are included as is a plant list, and site photos. Historic background of the area and regulatory implications are discussed. Literature review provides background into design theory for a route that tells the story of this landscape, while allowing a provocative wetland experience. Budget, visitor needs and environmental impact are considered in the design, as is optimizing experience through storytelling, variety, views, beauty, the sublime, mystery, and engagement of the whole person. Precedent studies of three Seattle area parks, Mercer Slough Nature Park, Rotary Community Park, and North Creek Park, inform the design. These parks successfully combine human and wildlife activities into multiple-use landscapes of environmental education and recreation, while maintaining wetland ecosystem function and habitat value. The design concept, An Interstitial Space that Provides Connections, is guided by principles which include connecting humans to nature, connecting humans to environmental education, enabling protection and stewardship, and designing for multi-functional landscapes and regional networks. Based on literature review, precedent studies, site inventory and analysis, four alternative design scenarios are shown each with an emphasis on one of the following areas: budget, visitor needs, environmental impact, and optimizing experience. A design is proposed that uses a more balanced approach. The proposed boardwalk includes viewpoints, seating, gathering spaces, viewing blinds and a front entry. Reflections of the process and lessons learned on project communication, site inventory techniques, site experience, and wetland ecosystem appreciation will also be included.