Savery Plaza | University of Washington | SvR Design


Linking the University of Washington’s historic Raitt and Savery Halls, Savery Plaza serves as a bridge between two exceptional campus open spaces: the Arts Quad and Denny Yard. Use of the plaza ebbs and flows during the day, filtering and distributing pedestrians between various campus destinations,. The University’s goals for revitalizing the space were to maintain these vital functions while also providing a more gracious pedestrian environment for informal conversation and gathering.
To achieve these goals, SvR deployed a simple, strategic arrangement of benches that allow for free-flowing movement through the site, with eddying spaces for quiet interactions. Informed by the foundations of the adjacent buildings, vertical elements like the sandstone benches, contrast against the red brick pavers that were salvaged and re-installed in the plaza. This material reuse maintains a sense of authenticity and integrity and harmonizes with the materials and scale of the adjacent architecture, especially in the springtime when the Arts Quad erupts in a riot of pink cherry blossoms.

While the adjacent cherry trees steal the show in the spring, year-round interest is provided by a restrained, high-impact planting palette that includes beauty berry, honeysuckle, jasmine, daylilies, crocosmia, geum and daffodils. As they grow, Frontier Elms will eventually provide a delicate canopy over the plaza..

Though modestly sized, the plaza presented some challenges for our landscape architects and civil engineers, particularly concerning the grading of the site. Since several tie-in points were unable to be changed and a large utility corridor lies directly under the plaza, the design required careful grading to meet ADA requirements.

IMAGE: SvR Design


About Damian Holmes 5735 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at