Emily Sager featured in Freeway Park Newsletter

Freeway Park In Profile

The Faces of our Community 

Courtesy of Freeway Park Association Newsletter


Emily Adelia Saeger

Graduate student – Master’s of Landscape Architecture ‘23 @ UW & Botanical Artist

What brings you to the Park? 
Freeway Park is a unique urban park design – it spans a major freeway, connecting two severed halves of downtown Seattle, yet still offers lush well established shrubs and trees, plus the iconic Lawerence Halprin fountains, which I hope to see full of water someday!  I first learned about the park in my landscape architecture program, but my first visit to the park was in preparation for In-Bloom!

What is your favorite part of working in parks/public spaces? 
I love being outdoors – I always have, though my love for the outdoors and plants grew tremendously in my early 20’s when I started working in organic agricultural production and landscaping in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Having grown up in a city myself – Washington D.C. – parks and public space have always been important to me, defining so many memories, both consciously and subconsciously, since childhood.  Parks/public space, particularly in an urban context, at their best, are essential grounds of respite, refuge and play.  My favorite part about working in parks/public space is the spontaneous connections that can occur – the opportunity to reflect on one’s own humanity through interaction/relationship with others both human and non-human friends (plants, animals, fungi!)

What is one way you would love to see our community come together? 
I would love to see our community come together around climate change (including processing climate grief) and environmental justice.  This city, like many cities in the United States, still visibly shows the legacies of redlining through disproportionate access to green space based largely upon race and class.  As the climate becomes more variable and extreme, it is critical that we work with our landscapes – plants, water, soils, etc. – and each other, to help buffer and mitigate the effects of climate change across all neighborhoods equally, increasing access and environmental health for everyone, not just for those who can pay.

What is the intersection of art and public space, in your opinion?
I think the intersection of art and public space is conversation.  All art is a dialogue – between artist and the idea/material(s)/environment; as well as between artist and the viewer/participant.  Art in public space is an opportunity for conversation, an opportunity to imbue the everyday with spontaneity, magic and/or awareness – a new perspective, new understanding, new idea.

Future Food Forest: Radical Landscapes for Uncertain Times

Students in the summer studio led by Elizabeth Umbanhowar present their installation for the Seattle Design Festival titled “Future Food Forest: Radical Landscapes for Uncertain Times”. The festival took place August 20th and 21st at Lake Union Park from 10-7. Their installation at the Seattle Design Festival represent what a loss of biodiversity would look like from present into the future. Visitors could dye pieces of fabric at the altar presented in the middle of the archway that displayed different native Pacific Northwest plants.

In this studio, students were encouraged to think of landscape as a library and how we can preserve flora and flauna in changing climates. Their final project considered how urban forests can potentially help the loss of biodiversity that we are seeing in current times as well as how to cope with environmental grief, a common side effect of realizing the disastrous outcomes of a rapidly changing landscapes.

Summer Design Build 2022 in Traena, Norway

We welcome back some of our students who went to Traena, Norway to complete their Design/Build with Daniel Winterbottom and co-instructors Luka Jelusic and Mate Rupic! 

A group of 16 students, some matriculated at UW, left the US in the middle of June 2022 to work on a design/build project on a small island off the coast of Norway for five weeks. Students were asked to create a unique space that could be offered year-round to the local community as a place to gather. They also wanted the space to feature an outdoor kitchen, classroom, community garden and hold community events such as their annual summer music festival. 

Students spent the first week designing and collaborating, leaving the following three weeks for building and implementation. Before beginning the design process, they had a chance to tour the island and visit some local landmarks. They met some of the locals to learn about their lifestyle and hear input on what exactly the community needed. Students, working in groups of four, began conceptualizing and iterating potential ideas and designs for the site. Overall, the group agreed that they wanted to create an area that met the community’s needs while paying homage to Traena’s unique culture, identity and history. At the end of the week, each group presented their proposal to the community and let them select which project they connected with the most.

Building began during the second week of their stay. As always, the proposal would not come out exactly as planned and some aspects would have to be altered so that it was feasible given the small time span and allotted resources. 

Students were led in sketching exercises by Daniel Winterbottom throughout their time there. Students traveled back to mainland Norway to visit Oslo and Bergen for their final week.

Here are some of the process and final images of the students’ amazing work abroad!


  Site Dedication


“The tides rolling into the island bring new people/visitors, new stories and even concerns from the outside world. But at the heart of the island is a community, whose intimate relationships form a resiliency that attracts the wayward and longing for respite to stay while deflecting the negative and worries of the world back out to the sea. That this haven seemingly at the end of the world away is a vibrant beacon of humanity. Our design lies at the center of Traena, and pulls people in formally. That line continues throughout the site consistently redirecting attention towards the central area (to other people in the space) and eventually dissipates or “recedes” back out in the landscape and to sea from where people came.” 

– Grant Guliano MLA, UC Berkeley


Photo credit: Maron Bernardino, Heather Fortunato, Jenna Simpson