Project Overview

Project Overview

Park History

Freeway Park is considered a groundbreaking masterpiece of landscape architecture. When it opened in 1976, it was the first park built over an interstate highway. It was designed by Lawrence Halprin & Associates to be an “exciting nature park” with an “adventurous atmosphere,” reconnecting neighborhoods divided by the new Interstate 5. At 5.2 acres, it is the largest public park in downtown Seattle.

Community Needs and Benefits

Now more than 40 years old, the park needs significant infrastructure updates and other improvements.

The Freeway Park Improvements Project will repair, restore, and potentially enhance the park’s original features in support of daily use, maintenance, and public programming. We want to welcome more people to the park and make the park accessible, comfortable, and inviting to a diverse community of all ages.

Project Cost and Schedule
Analysis/
Preliminary Design
null Detailed
Design
null Construction null
Summer 2019–
Spring 2020
  Summer 2020–
Winter 2021
  2022  

As part of the public benefit package associated with the Convention Center expansion, Seattle Parks & Recreation has $10 million for capital improvements and activation at Freeway Park. Of this budget, $6 million is for new construction activities within the park. Freeway Park Association was instrumental in securing this funding.

Project work began in summer 2019. The design team first analyzed the park’s current condition and original design and developed ideas to improve the park. We presented our initial recommendations to the public at an in-person open house at Town Hall Seattle in October 2019 and an online open house in November 2019.

In February 2020, Seattle Parks & Recreation completed preliminary design for Freeway Park improvements, incorporating input from the public, the Project Advisory Committee, and the Seattle Design Commission. The preliminary design was also informed by targeted outreach to people who use Freeway Park, including people experiencing homelessness.

Historic Status

In December 2019, Freeway Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The Freeway Park Improvements Project will meet the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes and will be reviewed by the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, as well as the Seattle Design Commission.

Aerial image of Freeway Park in the 1970s.

Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives

1970s.

Aerial image of Freeway Park today.

Photo credit: Scott Bonjukian

Today.

Image of the Cascade Fountain in the 1970s.

Photo credit: Bob Peterson

Cascade Fountain in the 1970s.

Image of summer events in Seneca Plaza.

Photo credit Freeway Park Association

Freeway Park today: summer events in Seneca Plaza

Image of the Upper Lawns.

Freeway Park today: Upper Lawns