Magnuson Park design recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects and community

An aerial view of Warren G. Magnuson Park.


When you’re standing in Magnuson Park watching leaves skitter across the wetlands and listening to insects hum and the frogs croak, it’s hard to imagine that noisy naval planes used to take off from that same space. Many visitors think the landscape is natural due to the park’s innovative design and careful construction.

Last month, the Berger Partnership received a Merit Award in Design from the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA) for its work in Magnuson Park. The firm was tasked in 2001 to integrate a system of five ecologically distinct, yet interconnected wetlands among the trails, athletic fields, roads and parking lots.

“I love Magnuson park as a place that welcomes people to play and escape into the thriving habitat reclaiming the site,”  said Guy Michaelsen, Berger Partnership principal landscape architect.  “I’m thrilled others recognize its unique character and ecology and feel lucky to be involved with such a great project.”

The project was completed in 2010. The WASLA awards committee said they were impressed how the park’s history and ecology were represented in the finished design.

“The scale and breadth of the design covers a lot of ground as the different areas of the park are quite different in character,” the committee commented. “The park as presented seemed ‘Olmstedian’ in its reach as a man-made designed space that adequately represents natural concepts and zones that vary in character.”

To view the award nomination, click the following link: Magnuson Park nomination.

A picture of ‘Cactus Lake’ taken by Lynne.


The transformation at Magnuson Park recently received kudos from a longtime Seattle resident as well. Lynne works with critically ill children and said she often visits the park to reflect on the beauty and blessings and exist around her. One of her favorite spaces in the park is an area next to the boat launch parking lot that she’s nicknamed “Cactus Lake” because of the surrounding trees’ resemblance to the saguaro cactus.

“My friends and my young children know that when I am feeling down- I go to ‘Cactus Lake’ to recharge,” Lynne said.

Lynne advocates for Seattle’s natural areas to her friends from all over the country. She said she often recalls Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi” whose lyrics state, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

“[The Magnuson team] has done the exact opposite,” Lynne said. “They’ve taken a barren parking lot and created an inviting habitat for so many plants, animals and people to enjoy.”