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2005 Pete Gross House Healing Garden

Located in Seattle, the Pete Gross House is a residential facility housing people being treated for cancer through the Cancer Care Alliance. In partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Garden Club, the design/build studio designed and implemented a roof top garden for the residents of the facility. The 2000 SF site is on the 11 th floor with sweeping views of downtown Seattle, the “Space Needle” and Lake Union to the north. Working with a design advisory committee and with children living at the facility, several schemes for the garden were developed. These were synthesized down to a preferred alternative that was permitted through the Seattle Building Department and built by the student team.

The space is essentially a series of rooms, differing in both size and character. The three primary rooms are the “living room”, a space covered by an arbor intended to be used for either formal or casual meetings and gatherings. This is the entry space into the site and serves as a domestic space, one intended to enable the residents to feel a little more at “home” during their stay and treatment here.

The second and largest space is situated at the walled edge and is oriented to the major views of the Space Needle and adjacent neighborhood of Queen Anne. This area is a casual deck space, filled with lounge and straight-backed chairs, it is intended to be a place of relaxation, play, eating and where one would enjoy the views.

The third space is located in a more nestled part of the garden and one follows a tree-lined path to gain access to this space designed for either one or two people to use. The space is slightly raised and bench swing hangs from an arbor overhead. This is the contemplative space oriented towards the water. This is a place where one can meditate, cry or have a quiet one on one talk.

Other features include a slate chalkboard where one can leave notes, poems or sayings. A wall with windows protects users from the strong winds and frames views of the city. Stone slabs fill a few of the window frames and contain poems children etched into their surfaces that were written by some of the children.

The plantings contain a woodland garden, herb medicinal garden, pots with tactile plantings and a bamboo hedge. Two glass sculptures flank the entry to the deck area and refract the city lights at night, creating an evening spectacle.

All materials were carried to the site by hand. The decking is made of plastic lumber. Light weight soils were used to decrease the loads and open structures designed to minimize wind loads. The colors are relatively strong creating a place that is upbeat, inspired and a dramatic contrast to the interior that is muted in color.