Reveal…that was the first thing that struck us about Totem Lake and came to be the guiding principle to the development of our master plan for the site. On our first visit to the sight (having driven by countless times) we were struck that a true lake even existed. The fact that it had such high ecological function was even more eye-opening (surprisingly, it’s a very healthy wetland!). The surprise of this hidden gem was reported time and time again in our work with the community to understand and reimagine the site.
The resulting master plan focuses on the unique ecology and diverse habitat of the 18-acre depressional wetland complex. The lake itself becomes a centerpiece for a re-envisioned neighborhood that has residential units overlooking the site. Surrounding cafes and restaurants have terraces that face out to the lake, providing a perfect opportunity for brunch outside while viewing 90 different species of birds that frequent the area. A stroll on the new loop pathway and boardwalks provides an opportunity to see turtles sunbathing on a newly installed habitat structure while a beaver swims by. The adjacent Cross Kirkland Corridor is abuzz with people out for a morning jog, walk or bike ride as they move past the lake and find a unique spot just off the trail to pause a moment, take in the surrounding environment, and learn about how the lake functions as part of an integrated stormwater system.