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American Society of Landscape Architects


November 2006 Issue

Strategies for a Greener Future
A charrette designs Seattle’s green infrastructure for the next century.

By Nancy Rottle, ASLA, and Brice Maryman, ASLA

Strategies for a Greener Future Alison Blake

Farms and forests paved over by suburban sprawl. Lakes and rivers degraded by stormwater runoff. Rising oceans and hotter temperatures.

Is this a future that we must accept, or can we turn the tide of global climate change and shrinking land and water resources, while creating wonderful places to live, play, and work?

This past year landscape architects, allied professionals, and citizen activists imagined an alternative future for Seattle in a process called Open Space Seattle 2100. In the project’s marquis event, participants convened for a two-day charrette to envision how tendrils of green might grow into an ideal Seattle that would take shape over the next century.

The solutions addressed local, regional, and global issues by imagining a cityscape that embraces a new green urbanism. By envisioning a dense, livable city with a well-developed network of bikeways, parks, tree canopies, restored shorelines, rain infiltrators, and other green infrastructure components, charrette attendees changed the way many citizens saw the city. Participants foresaw a Seattle in which city form reduces carbon emissions, controls and cleans stormwater runoff, moderates the urban “heat-island” effect, and curbs the exodus from urban centers to suburban greenfields. The charrette planted the seeds of a comprehensive green infrastructure plan for Seattle and developed a recipe for revitalizing green urbanism that can be applied to other cities.

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