environmental design

pla | Phillip Lehn Architect

pla | Phillip Lehn Architect © 2017

The plat's original two lots were first discovered in late 1994. The larger (1.25 acres) flag lot joining the bluff below had an early modernist residence. The smaller (0.5 acre) lot was on the ridge above along the street. Both lots enjoyed large, unobstructed views of northern Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. Soon after Mariam and me and His Eminence Ngawang Migyur Rinpoche purchased both lots, Mariam and I met individually and collectively with the owners of the fourteen properties sharing the dead ended street to discuss GTi's plans to subdivide the two lots and how those plans might affect them. The City of Edmonds required a widening of the street to increase the number of lots using it and because of steep slopes on both sides, strict compliance with the City's standards was not always possible. A previous developer had tried to buy and subdivide the upper lot but failed to win the neighborhood's support. After meeting with our neighbors, listening to their concerns and giving them a better sense of our plans, we designed an alternative plan for the street that we all supported unanimously.

 

After the neighborhood's vote, the Lehns and GTi formally contested the City's street standards in a well-attended public hearing and won a variance to allow the neighborhood's alternative street improvement plan and the subdivision of our two lots into four.  The alternative plan widened the street where steep slopes permitted. It also removed three ugly power poles and undergrounded their power lines; it channeled storm drainage with new paving, thickened edges and three catch basins with connecting pipes, and it improved water and emergency fire service with a new 600-foot-long 8" (previously 4") water pipe and hydrant. In 2013, the City approved the Lehns' and GTi's subsequent lot boundary adjustment and short plat of GTi's lower lot plus ~7,000 SF of the Lehns' lot into two lots, increasing the total number of GTi's lots to four and the number of lots sharing the park to five.

 

 

 

site design, construction and landscaping

 

I invited Rich Haag - www.richhaagassoc.com/studio/ - a long and very dear friend, teacher and co-conspirator, Beijing Olympic's site design finalist, Founder and Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington's Department of Landscape Architecture and the world's only landscape architect to win the American Society of Landscape Architects' gold medal twice - Seattle's Gas Works Park and Bainbridge Island's Bloedel Reserve - to help us design a special plan for the special site. Together, we envisioned it as the existing residence and up to four new dwelliings sited to share the whole plat as a lightly landscaped park, which I named Greenness*. Rather than contriving the shape of each lot from a street grid, Greenness was envisioned as a privately shared  park without visible lot lines and fences to allow each dwelliing to be designed in more perfect deference to its unique location, orientation, views, topography, features and essential nature. Blessed with unobstructed, high bluff views of northern Puget Sound, the Olympic Peninsula and Admiralty Inlet, the Sound's gateway to the Pacific, Greenness was designed to interconnect the existing, early modernist residence with up to four new dwellings sharing common open spaces and amenities.

 

*Greenness' planting plan preserved or transplanted the estate's many existing plants

whenever possible complimented by several of Lehn's selections from local nurseries.

 

common open spaces and amenities

 

Greenness' common open spaces and amenities included foundation and pad for a future view pavilion, a landscaped garden, fish and duck pond, a small orchard featuring several varieties of fruit, paths, bamboo tunnel, and fire pit point, a popular gathering, grilling and gazing spot with one of the park's most panoramic views. Located at the end of a safe, quiet and lightly traveled street, nearly surrounded by tall trees and cradled by terraced slopes, it's a place that invites you to relax, smell the sea, listen to a seal bark and behold nature's ever changing spectacles.

After Migyur Rinpoche, his grandnephew Gnendak Shak and Mariam and I invested ~ 20 years and over $1.5 million to find, purchase, design, develop and maintain Greenness, its four undeveloped view lots were repossessed and the plat's Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions written and recorded to establish and preserve the shared park's common open spaces and amenities were dissolved. To learn more about the people and events that led to the lots' repossession and Greenness' dissolution, see Greenness' Epilogue. To learn more about GTi's plans to design and develop dwellings on the property see Greenness lots B, C, D & E. To learn more about GTi's plans to develop sacred spaces on the property see Tara Wellness Center and Tara Memorial Park.

Phillip Lehn architect © 2016

 

regional urban / suburban / native context

 

The site is centrally located within an ~ 30+ minute toll free drive of all three of the region's major urban centers - Seattle, Bellevue and Everett. It's also within an ~ 15+ minute drive of a regional shopping mall and an ~ 30+ minute walk of nearly new municipal athletic facilities and primary, middle and high schools uphill and a large and largely native county park and Puget Sound beach downhill. The site's unobstructed views are preserved, protected and made more private by the many large trees surrounding the plat, the site's dramatic changes in topography and the largely inaccessible and undevelopable expance of native woods and wildlife habitat extending along the bluff for several miles. Greenness' relatively secluded undeveloped view lots are among the last and most beautiful in the region to combine so many very rare and desirable attributes.