Situated just north of downtown Seattle, the public Beach at Expedia Group follows a quarter mile of the Puget Sound waterfront edge. Tying in with adjacent projects along the waterfront, the park recalls the native coastal landscape of the Pacific Northwest and connects directly to the surrounding communities via the Elliott Bay Bike Trail.
Prior to Expedia’s development of the waterfront, much of the existing site was paved over and used for industrial purposes for decades before previously acting as a tech and research campus. The limited planting that was on-site was mostly non-native and provided little wildlife value. In contrast, planting at The Beach is entirely comprised of native and climate-appropriate species. In addition to studying quantitative plant characteristics such as spread, height, sun requirements, and water use, the team did a series of qualitative studies charting seasonal color, wildlife benefits, and textural relationships between plants. Through the careful selection of native and climate-appropriate plants and development of distinct botanic experiences, the planting provides wildlife habitat and encourages biophilia among users of the site while reducing campus water use and requiring minimal maintenance.
The Gravel Beach and Dune planting zone is located at the south-western edge of the Expedia Headquarters campus, along the Puget Sound. This planting zone is designed to emulate the character of the Puget Sound by utilizing a planting palette containing mostly native coastal/dune plants. 65% of the planting is comprised of a mix of four native grasses (Carex pansa, Carex vulpinoidea, Deschampsia cespitosa, and Elymus mollis), while the remaining 35% is comprised of native perennial dune plants in soft hues of pink, purple, and yellow. The perennials include native beach strawberry, gumweed, seashore lupine, and wild buckwheat. Reclaimed boulders and driftwood break up the planting while also functioning as informal seating and play areas. A subtle gradient of beach pebbles and river rocks meander around the planted dunes, recalling Ruby Beach and the estuaries of the far western reaches of Washington State.
The Elliott Bay Bike and Pedestrian Trail curves gently through the center of the dunes, immersing visitors and commuters alike in the naturalized coastal landscape and connecting the adjacent communities to the new, informal amphitheater. At the northern boundary of the park, the landscape swells to create a terraced overlook that celebrates the site’s unique vantage point, providing breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, the Puget Sound, and the Seattle skyline.
Photos: Marion Brenner