The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) today launched an international letter-writing campaign to prevent inappropriate development at the acclaimed Weyerhaeuser Corporate Headquarters, in Federal Way, Washington, called the “finest corporate campus in the world” and worthy of National Historic Landmark status. It was originally designed by landscape architect Peter Walker, founding principal of Sasaki, Walker and Associates (SWA) and PWP Landscape Architecture, and Edward Charles Bassett, partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The campaign has resulted letters from significant landscape architects, architects, scholars and leaders throughout the design community. The letters are addressed to Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell – the city issues land use and construction permits – and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle district commander Colonel Alexander Bullock – the Corps is conducting a review because wetlands are affected.
Weyerhaeuser, which was completed in 1972, is now owned by the Los Angeles-based developer Industrial Realty Group, which plans to build 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space at the 425-acre site. Officials at IRG are ignoring a mid-1970s master plan that details appropriate areas for development and have rejected design assistance from Walker, SOM partner Craig Hartman, and SWA managing principal René Bihan.
Leading landscape architects including Laurie Olin, Bill Johnson, Gary Hilderbrand, Debra Guenther, Brice Maryman, and Weyerhaeuser designer Peter Walker, along with scholars Marc Treib, Richard Longstreth, David Streatfield, Gwendolyn Wright, Nicholas Adams, Scott Melbourne, and Kenneth Helphand, architects Joeb Moore and David Goldberg, Docomomo US, noted design critic and architectural historian Alexandra Lange, and others are speaking out. A microsite features the letters and members of the public are encouraged to contact Mayor Ferrell and Colonel Bullock.
Here are excerpts from the letters:
Peter Walker, original landscape architect at Weyerhaeuser, founding principal of Sasaki, Walker and Associates (SWA) and PWP Landscape Architecture – “In my 60 years of landscape architecture projects, which include the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, the National September 11 Memorial with Michael Arad in New York City, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Weyerhaeuser Headquarters is perhaps the most important and certainly the dearest to my heart.”
Scott Melbourne, author of Refining Nature: The Landscape Architecture of Peter Walker – the “Weyerhaeuser campus is a gem.”
Alexandra Lange, noted design critic and architectural historian – “When Weyerhaeuser’s … complex was new, it was simultaneously the last word in the suburban corporate estates that flourished during the postwar era … and the first word in environmental consciousness as company branding.”
Thaisa Way, program director, landscape and garden studies, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., and professor, Landscape Architecture Department, College of Built Environments, University of Washington – Weyerhaeuser is “an international icon of Modernism.”
Laurie Olin, founding principal of OLIN and National Medal of Art recipient – Weyerhaeuser is “a treasure of modern architecture, site planning, community benefit and environmental leadership.”
Richard Longstreth, professor emeritus, George Washington University – Weyerhaeuser “merits National Historic Landmark status.”
Image: Courtesy of TCLF