Freeway Park considered for National Register


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


News, Advocacy, WEWA
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A nomination for the National Register of Historic Places has been prepared for Seattle's Freeway Park. The park was designed by Lawrence Halprin & Associates with Bulgarian archtiect Angela Danadjieva as the project designer.  The Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation reviewed the nomination at a meeting this past Friday.

After its review, the Governor's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation voted unanimously to place Freeway Park on the Washington Heritage Register and also recommended listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination will now go to the National Park Service for review and hopefully listing.

The nomination was required to be prepared as part of a mitigation process for the expansion of the nearby convention center.

This news comes just as a $10 million capital improvement project to restore the park is kicking off. The project is based on a concept plan produced by the Freeway Park Association. Parts of the proposal have caused some concern. Improvements or changes to the site will be reviewed by the Washingtion State Historic Preservation Office and will have to meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards

According to Eugenia Woo, president of Docomomo US/WEWA, "This was an important recommendation because we see so few modern nominations prepared for modern resources and Freeway Park is one of the most significant in the state." Docomomo US and the local chapter hopes the to see a local Seattle Landmark nomination in the future, which will offer protection for the site and its features.

Please note: the above information was updated on 11.4.19 for clarification, specifically that the nomination was prepared as mitigation for the convention center expansion, not the planned park improvements.

The public can offer their thoughts on park improvements through this online survey


Update 11.4.19

Civic leader Jim Ellis, after whom Freeway Park was named, died last week at the age of 98. A memorial will be held for him in December.


This article from the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog provides more background on the park and related projects, such as the lidding of I-5.

Update 11.12.19

The Cultural Landscape Foundation provides coverage of the recent open house and panel discussion that took place October 28.  

Interestingly, a similar fountain, also designed by Halprin, located in Olympia, could also use some preservation. As described in a post by Mid-Century Modern Olympia, "Hidden in the middle of the East plaza of the Capital Campus is a work by one of the premiere landscape architects of the 20th Century; Lawrence Halprin. The Water Garden, completed in 1972, was designed to break up the expanse created by an underground parking garage for State employees. The forms, shapes, and construction techniques at the Water Garden served as a precursor to Halprin's more notable Freeway Park in Seattle, completed in 1976. Plagued with water loss problems since its construction, water was completely shut off in 1992."