Livable City Year

Four Gulches: Restoring Human and Ecological Connections to Tacoma’s Ruston Way and Waterfront

Livable City Year 2017-2018 – City of Tacoma

UW Faculty: Nancy Rottle, Department of Landscape Architecture
City Project Leads: Stephen Atkinson, Planning and Development Services; Andrew Austin, Metro Parks Tacoma; Marty Stump, Metro Parks Tacoma

Project summary
As Tacoma grows and residents seek a more accessible network of green spaces within the city, these gulches are green space assets that have great potential to connect the area’s neighborhoods to Ruston Way’s waterfront parks. The student teams, the City, and Metro Parks are hopeful that residents from across the Tacoma region would enthusiastically use the four gulches for recreational and educational purposes if goals of safe access, educational facilities, and ecological restoration are accomplished.

The students began their studio course with site analyses, which included site visits with collaborators. Students also conducted research on the history, background, and current conditions of the area. Based on area and gulch-specific findings, students embarked on their designs, beginning with conceptual designs, and then moved on to “schematic” designs, which included detailed plan renderings and proposed site programs. These early design processes culminated in a mid-term review at the Point Defiance Park Pagoda, where collaborators had the opportunity to provide feedback to each student group. Each team refined their designs based on this feedback, culminating in a final review, which was attended by representatives from the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma, and staff from the architecture and landscape architecture firm Mithun.

Accessibility to the gulches was a key priority for the studio design teams. Accordingly, a group of students that included members from all four gulch teams proposed alternative routes for cyclists and pedestrians that would allow for a more seamless experience of all four gulches and the Ruston Way waterfront as a whole. In the future, students hope that the residents will be able to move easily between the gulches and from each gulch to the waterfront, such that they might be viewed as a unified regional asset.

Part of the 2017-2018 Livable City Year partnership between the University of Washington and the City of Tacoma.

See all Livable City Year projects in Tacoma that UW students and faculty worked on during the year-long partnership.

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