At the center of a four-block-segment between Denny Park and Mercer Street, a mature tree canopy and low traffic volume created an opportunity for public space between the Arbor Blocks buildings – home to new offices in South Lake Union for Facebook.
The 8th Avenue roadway width was minimized to prioritize pedestrian and bike use of the open space to create a woonerf – soon to be Seattle’s first Salmon-Safe woonerf. The road alignment has a gentle “wiggle” – both to give automobile drivers a sense that this is a place where they are not the priority and to create two public plaza spaces. A primary hardscape plaza takes advantage of southwest sunny exposure to create an open plaza space filled with sculptural seating beneath the preserved sweet gum trees. A secondary plaza, in the form of a deck surrounded by lush vegetation, sits farther north in shady contrast.
The western building has bioretention cells cascading along its north and south frontages, while the eastern building opens up pocket seating areas – breadcrumbs along the Lake to Bay Trail. Both buildings have lower level and roof level terraces designed to balance lush plantings with highly functional outdoor workspace for Facebook employees.