pla | Phillip  Lehn Architect

environmental design

pla | Phillip  Lehn Architect

environmental design

Tara Memorial Park


In August 2012, Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho Sakya asked His Eminence Ngawang Migyur if he would donate GTi's high bluff view lots in north Edmonds for the purpose of cremating and memorializing the extraordinary life of her aging husband, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, the first high Tibetan lama to immigrate to the United States and eldest holder of a sacred unbroken family lineage that's lasted more than 1000 years. Sacred relics recovered from traditional Tibetan Buddhist cremations of high lamas are deeply revered, but the highly efficient, smokeless and odorless crematoriums required in the United States incinerate all remains uniformly to a very fine ash.


In considering the project's many challenges and opportunities, I proposed Tara Memorial Park,  a nonsectarian regional center to serve all members of the Pacific Northwest's growing international community of Buddhists. The proposal included a traditional Tibetan crematorium to be used rarely and exclusively for the sacred Khön Lineage and those very few others who had lived exceptionally selfless lives benefiting all beings, a contemporary smokeless and odorless crematorium for all others, and a Stupa~Collumbarium to display and memorialize the remains of those cremated. Given its location, size and significance, the Stupa~Collumbarium was intended to be seen and honored as a sacred landmark upon entering and leaving Puget Sound when passing through Admiralty Inlet.


Migyur Rinpoche, his grandnephew Gnendak Shak, and Mariam and I were all happy to help realize the project by donating our shared interests in GTi's three (possibly four) undeveloped view lots. Unfortunately?, the ~$475,000 needed to redeem GTi's liens was not raised before the properties were repossessed. Fortunately, all 3, possibly 4 view lots remain undeveloped and will soon be listed for sale along with our existing house. To view the Northwest Dharma Association's featured article and photographs describing the 2012 proposal in more detail, please see -

Site Plan


Upper Level

The Upper level would be reserved for those selected to be cremated on the bluff in the traditional Tibetan way. The roof would feature an elevator, stair, prayer wheels, grass for family outdoor prayers and picnics, and one of the Pacific Northwest's most inspiring panoramas.

Main Level

Lower Two Levels

The two lower levels would be reserved for those cremated in the more contemporary way and include a garden shed on the ground level and an office above it. The Main Level would be near grade, vehicular access, and limited parking on the east and include a public plaza, chapel, contemporary crematorium, reception room, toilets, stair, elevator, and niches. Sealed glass cases would display each family's special urns and memorials.





What could this rare opportunity become? … for Easterners, Westerners, young and old, educated and less educated, afflicted and healthy, rich and poor? … a sacred place evoking humility, reverence, quiet reflection, personal awakenings, prayers and worship that’s safe and secluded yet nearby… brilliantly conceived, thoughtfully crafted and lovingly cared for … awe inspiring in small as well as big ways.


The site is centrally located within a short, toll-free drive of all three of the region’s major urban centers – Seattle, Bellevue and Everett. It’s nearly surrounded by protected native forest and wildlife habitat stretching along an unbuildable bluff for miles.  Its five levels, gold domes and prayer wheels rising high above the bluff and glistening in the sun and moonlight to proclaim its holy presence and beckon all to behold one of Greater Seattle’s most glorious panoramas and witness the daily passage of ships through Admiralty Inlet entering and leaving Puget Sound for the Pacific and Asia … a profoundly sacred place to commune with the precious remains of our families’ ancestors and their most worthy spiritual guides resting eternally to better inform our journeys and lift our aspirations.  


Given our planet’s many existential threats, we’re all in critical need of an antidote to transform our self-absorption with our own wellbeing to the exclusion of others’… our selfish desires for evermore things and benefits for ourselves to their exclusion for others.  Tara Memorial Parks in Edmonds, Washington and elsewhere could become part of that antidote. By reminding us of death’s imminence and Karma’s divine justice, spectacularly sited Tara Memorial Parks near major cities throughout the world would help us to elevate, heal and correct ourselves and planet with truthful self-examination, wisdom’s clarity, genuine humility, faith and perseverance. By recognizing and celebrating those who lived exceptionally wise and compassionate lives benefiting all beings, Tara Memorial Parks could help to inform and transform our world’s individual and collective aspirations.


On special occasions, residents, neighbors and visitors could gather to experience some of our time’s greatest seers, artists, scientists, philosophers and teachers. Normally, residents, neighbors and visitors could expect to experience an unusually quiet and peaceful yet engaging and uplifting place to relax, breathe clean air, discover, contemplate and honor our region’s many revered and beloved ancestors … a place to reflect on paths given and taken, loves, passions, challenges, devotions, sacrifices, ordeals and triumphs. It would be brilliantly conceived, thoughtfully crafted, and lovingly maintained with lushly landscaped paths for walking and benches to sit for silent prayer, teachings, meditation and worship … a deeply pleasing and uplifting place to feel at peace and be mindful of life’s great lessons.


What about the park’s other three, possibly five contiguous view lots? what could they contribute? … an international, nonsectarian school of Buddhist students, practitioners and adepts exploring and sharing our world’s many Buddhist teachings, traditions, arts and sciences? A diverse yet likeminded community of spiritual explorers sharing, caring for and managing the park and its facilities as a generous and inclusive bridge and international landmark connecting East and West.


If you’d like to help realize some form of this very rare opportunity, please let us know. We especially need help organizing its international foundation and funding effort to buy the land, design the campus, obtain all necessary permits and develop the site. To meet our immediate needs, Green Tara incorporated (GTi) is offering to sell its key ~7,000 SF piece of Greenness for $200,000. To learn why it’s considered a “key” as well as more about Greenness’ other contiguous view properties soon to be listed for sale, see …

Phuntsho Thundrup ~ Ngawang Yeshe ~ Phillip Lehn

Green Tara incorporated /

pla | Phillip Lehn Architect, LEED AP