William Mann says Weyerhaeuser is a "masterpiece of landscape architectural design"

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Weyerhaeuser Letters

William Mann says Weyerhaeuser is a "masterpiece of landscape architectural design"

William Mann says Weyerhaeuser is a "masterpiece of landscape architectural design"
Feb 05, 2021
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On February 4, 2021, William Mann, professor emeritus, College of Environment and Design, Univesrity of Georgia, wrote the following letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle district commander Col. Alexander Bullock, along with one to Mayor Jim Ferrell of Federal Way, WA, concerning proposals to build 1.5-million square feet of warehouse space at the Weyerhaeuser Corporate Headquarters. The Weyerhaeuser complex, which was completed in 1972, was designed by landscape architect Peter Walker, founding principal of Sasaki, Walker & Associates, and architect Edward Charles Bassett, principal with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. This new construction would result in the clear-cutting of some 132 mostly forested acres on the 425-acre campus.

 

 

 

Dear Colonel Bullock:

I urge you to do all that is within your power to halt the proposed transformation of the Weyerhaeuser Headquarters site.  This masterpiece of landscape architectural design must be maintained as a whole.  The Los Angeles owners, Industrial Realty Group, have re-named the place Woodbridge Corporate Park. That is laughable. If they prevail in transforming the site as they propose, it will be the farthest thing from a park that can be imagined.

IRG says it may sell off parts of the property, but they intend to build 1.5-million square feet of warehouse spaces, including a 314,500-square-foot fish processing factory.

If the proposal goes ahead, the picturesque and pristine 425-acre site will be transformed by clear-cutting 132 acres (20,000 mature conifers), the stripping of topsoil from an area the size of 100 football fields, the grading of the sloping site into a flat platform for the construction of a combined 35 acres of warehouses, parking lots and roads. Then, picture 800 semi-trucks rumbling through the site and surrounding community each day. Not a pretty sight/site.

For a half a century, this magnificent fusion of building and landscape has stood as one of America’s most overpowering examples of “corporate campus” design. It ranks up there with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin County Civic Center, the John Deere Headquarters in Moline, Illinois, and the Upjohn Headquarters in Kalamazoo.

Seen from any angle, the Weyerhaeuser ensemble is a sublime pastoral environment -- on a par with the best works of “Capability” Brown in 18th-century England, or of Frederick Law Olmsted in 19th-century America. For fifty years, Olmsted fought to keep over three dozen proposed building projects out of his bucolic masterpiece, New York’s 843-acre Central Park. Had he failed to do so, few of us would cherish it as we do.

Jackson Park in Chicago is another Olmsted landscape that is today threatened by the insertion of the Obama Presidential Library into its sylvan sward – because the setting is perceived as developable real estate rather than the serene landscape conceived by America’s greatest landscape architect.

A green space is not a tabula rasa. It is not an empty space simply because there are no structures on it.

I taught landscape architecture at the University of Georgia for 35 years, and always illustrated my lectures with pictures of the iconic Weyerhaeuser campus. For fifteen years, I led  dozens of  landscape architecture students from Athens, Georgia to places as far from home as San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Invariably, at the end of our excursions, students rated the Weyerhaeuser campus at the top of the list of designed spaces they most admired.

Please do all that is within your power to assure that the Weyerhaeuser campus is spared from the chain saws and earth scrapers -- and maintained as a whole.

Sincerely,

William A. Mann, FASLA
Professor Emeritus
College of Environment and Design
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia 30602

 

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