A Tale of Two Courtyards

These two courtyards are in my neighborhood in Seattle and present dramatically different landscapes. One is in the center of a U-shaped, tall building and faces north while the other is a short building with an L-shaped courtyard and opens NW. The first one has minimal trees, only small ones in the courtyard and entrance while the second has large trees that cast heavy shadows over much of the courtyard. The first is full of flowers, some native plants and some minimal structural plants of hedge-type plantings. It’s a really lovely space that most people may miss because it’s elevated from the street level. The second courtyard is also elevated, with a locked gate, but it’s not at all lovely. It seems very barren, with only a few varieties of plants, nothing of color and most the plants are heavily trimmed.

From a design perspective there’s no competition, the first…

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Seattle’s Green Factor

The 2010 WASLA awards were recently announced and winning a Merit Award for Research and Communication was a report by The Berger Partnership titled Functiontal Landscapes – Assessing Elements of Seattle’s Green Factor (PDF). The report graphically shows the benefits of the Green Factor program with in-depth looks at each category. The report is well done and the graphic elements explain the program better than the City of Seattle’s Green Factor website does. Here is a brief description of the Green Factor from the City of Seattle website:

The Green Factor is a landscape requirement designed to increase the quantity and quality of planted areas in Seattle while allowing flexibility for developers and designers to meet development standards. It currently applies to new development in commercial and neighborhood commercial zones outside of downtown, and is proposed for multifamily residential zones and  the…

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131 Acre Green Roof in Seoul

A very large green roof is being designed by the firm Samoo Architects & Engineers in Seoul. This will be a massive project and the roof will be turned into a large park. This is becoming more and more common in many countries and it has fantastic possibilities for ecology such as reducing the urban heat island affect, reducing stormwater runoff and providing more open green space. Unfortunately however, many of these projects barely think about, or neglect altogether, wildlife habitat. The roof is an ideal place for many species because it’s a safe refuge from ground predators and often times, people. Many birds can nest on roofs, insects find a haven there and in some regions with a proper ‘ladder’ lizards could even find roofs a suitable habitat.

Incorporating habitat would be relatively easy to do for any…

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