Earth Day marked the grand opening for the Bullitt Center and McGilvra Place Park. The park was filled to capacity and speakers included Mayor Mike McGinn, Governor Jay Inslee, Harriet Bullitt, Bullitt Foundation Board Chair Maud Daudon, and Denis Hayes.
The Bullitt Center hopes to become the first commercial building in the world to achieve the Living Building Challenge, and McGilvra Place Park will be the first project to attempt the Living Building Challenge for the landscape and infrastructure typology. The project aims to activate and enliven an underutilized streetscape and pocket park in an area that specifically called for more green space in its neighborhood plans. The project received funding from Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund in late 2010. The Seattle Parks Foundation was a fiscal sponsor and, as a partner in the design of McGilvra Place, the Bullitt Foundation is advancing a new model of public-private partnership, helping to leverage private development for public benefit.
Protecting the trees was an early goal of the park project. The park’s eleven Sycamores have thrived for a hundred years on the site and are expected to live for another hundred years. The trees provide important ecosystem services and serve to showcase our natural environment. They sequester an estimated 3,200 pounds of carbon each year, approximately half the annual amount of carbon generated by the average driver using a 25-mile-per-gallon vehicle. The trees also intercept approximately 44,000 gallons of water each year, the equivalent of half the average yearly water use for a family of four, or almost enough to fill the cistern in the basement of the Bullitt Center.
The Bullitt Center can be described as functioning in many of the same ways as a tree, with its photovoltaic canopy, hardworking building core and self-sufficient base managing all of the water and nutrients that move in and out. The juxtaposition of this building to a park that is home to 11 robust and exemplary trees is a powerful image that inspired many of the design decisions for the park. Berger Partnership was landscape architect, Springline Design was civil engineer and Meyer Wells supplied the reclaimed wood park furniture.