Changes in urban form, housing density, and high land costs have challenged designers to rethink the format of urban open space. The pandemic, protests, and growing concerns with health and equity have elevated the importance of accessible outdoor places where people can gather safely. The Village Green offers a new model. Privately owned and open the public, the project converts a surface parking lot into a lushly planted, flexible outdoor space. University Village is Seattle’s most notable outdoor lifestyle shopping center. Over several years, the center has transformed into a pedestrian destination renowned for thoughtful detailing of pedestrian corridors with distinct amenities and exquisite plantings. Streets have been reclaimed for people by moving parking into structures along the perimeter.
The Village Green is the centerpiece and heart of University Village; it provides places for people to gather informally and space for diverse events. Building this welcoming place on unstable soils presented several technical challenges including placement of structural piles, stormwater management, drainage, and resolving weight restrictions for the built structure and the plants.