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Winner Announced: Top Landscape Designs

GRAY Awards 2020, international design competition winner and finalist projects of the Landscape Design category.


Nestled along three channels of the Spokane River in the heart of downtown Spokane, Washington, Riverfront Park is a sacred gathering space and fishing grounds of the Spokane Tribe and was the birthplace of the city. The falls’ tremendous waterpower supported industry and spurred railroad stations and freight yards. A forward-looking vision transformed the site from an industrial landscape into the home of the 1974 World’s Fair, which was the first world’s fair to focus on the environment.

Ariel view of Riverfront Park in Spokane Washington

Photographed by Kelly Beck.

In 2015, more than 40 years after hosting the expo, as park elements and infrastructure deteriorated, this much-loved regional center was again ready to be reimagined. The design team developed a master plan for the 100-acre park then led it to reality with major projects including enhanced connectivity to the urban core, establishing a living landscape, and producing a wildly successful renovation of the iconic Pavilion.

The new Howard Street Promenade is a vital pedestrian connection and thoroughfare stretching south from the park into downtown, and north to the Memorial Arena and beyond. The one-time street

crosses the park in angles that align with new and old park icons, including the new home of the city’s historic carousel while crossing three river channels on unique bridge experiences that enhance and

strengthen the connection to the river. Interwoven within the Promenade are secondary paths connecting to viewpoints, topographic basalt seating berms, art pieces, rain gardens, curated plantings, and native ecology.

Promenade along Spokane Riverfront Park

Photographed by Built Work Photography.

The Spokane Tribe, whose land and name the city is built on, were embraced at the project’s onset to guide the spirit and details of the design, including the renaming of Snxʷ Meneɂ (sin-hoo-men-huh), Salmon People Island, as a place of tribal storytelling, celebrating the Tribe’s living culture. Native plantings, riparian river edges, and ecological function are reintroduced to the park, replacing unnatural landscapes and exposing underlying geologies of basalt as a park aesthetic. The redevelopment also mitigated contaminated soil that was leftover from over a century of industry. River edges and access, hardened over the last century, are softened and enhanced to strengthen real and perceived connections to the power of the river.

The site’s industrial past, including its use as a railroad yard, was drawn upon for material and detail inspiration, including a color palette based on Union Pacific rail cars.

Pavilion at night with colored lights and crowd of visitors at Spokane's Riverfront Park

Photographed by Miles Bergsma.

In reimagining the pavilion, the design team removed all non-essential structures, leaving only the outer tension ring structure, mast, crown, and cables. New fabric panels shade paved areas and events. The once flat, sunken pavilion floor was reshaped into a seating bowl with accessible winding paths, ascending over 40 feet to provide territorial views while welcoming individuals and crowds of over five thousand. Ascending paths launch into the air on a series of grated catwalks that take visitors up into the net and around the structural mast. At dusk, the Pavilion takes on a new form with light blades (pioneered for this project) transforming the cable net into a dazzling display of color and patterned light shows choreographed to music.


Design Team:

Guy Michaelsen, principal

Matt Martenson, project manager

Angie Oh, landscape designer


NAC Architecture - Architecture and Electrical Engineering

Garco Construction - Design-Build Contractor

Hill International - Owner’s Representative

Jacobs - Engineering

Dark Light Design - Lighting

Land Expressions - Local Landscape Architect

Walker Construction - General Contractor

GuildWorks, LLC - Pavilion Shade Canopies

Date of Completion: September 2019


Lakefront home with infinity pool and boathouse

The property occupies one acre on the suburban shores of Seattle's Lake Washington. Eighty percent of this lake is ringed by some form of built barrier, threatening the lake's ecology and riparian habitat.

With 150 feet of shoreline, the property's potential benefit to local wildlife was impeded by a large, failing concrete bulkhead installed in the 1960's.

Fostering a greater connection between people and nature at the land-water interface became the project's main mission. The project sought out a broader definition of "garden": one that links it to the larger landscape, restoring its indigenous flora, increasing its attractiveness to the region's fauna, and encouraging engagement with native plants and wildlife.

Lush landscape on waterfront with modern home

The challenge of tethering a suburban landscape to its native, natural elements was met in two ways: through design focused on creating specific new experiences and a corresponding follow-through with

extensive re-grading. This multi-year project was built in two phases, beginning with the waterside. The first phase, with no available land access, entailed the use of heavy equipment that was brought in by barge, used to dismantle the bulkhead. The lawn was removed - 160 cubic yards of soil was redistributed - creating a newly diverse topography. Re-contouring the site has given the eye multiple opportunities to pause and engage. The garden has acquired the complex character of a natural landform and, with re-wilding, is increasingly perceived and used as habitat. This has added significantly to the client's enjoyment and sense of place.

Together with land-forming, planting design has played an essential role in creating cohesion within the space. To extend visual interest throughout the seasons, succession planting was employed using

native and non-native plants. Extensive colonies of native camassia and other spring bulbs such as Shooting Star and Dog's-Tooth Violet (all denizens of Yellow Island) are now established. In very early spring, Flowering Currant and other natives provide a lifeline for overwintering hummingbirds. By early summer, with broods hatched and insect life-cycles complete, many natives go dormant. This is when the non-natives in the succession planting take over. Ornamentals such as Cardinal Flower, Afghan Sage, and Japanese Anemone reach their floral peak just in time for summer. Non-natives play a role in habitat improvement also by extending the degree of cover and providing favored flowers for pollinators – five species of native bee are present in the landscape.

Modern dock on lakefront home

New modernist-built elements such as the Pool, Beach House, and Boat House were linked via a playful circulation system. Meticulous care was given to the nature and location of spaces to best

anticipate and accommodate humans' uses and movements, and other animals. Beginning at the property's entrance, the eye is drawn to compass points embedded in stone that encircles the lawn. Here, the project's second phase sets the template of circular forms repeated lakeside via sweeping curves leading to the round Sunken Terrace. This is the key social space of the design and a lively counterbalance to the formal dining of the Main Terrace.

Modern dock and landscaping, modern planter in circular water feature

A sustainable landscape is a connected one. Waterside, the restoration required reproducing a "living" shoreline's gradual shelving of size-specific pebbles (rounded, to encourage salmon spawning) to attenuate wave action naturally. With underwater plantlife established, fish now swim in these calmer shallows, while ducks and otters can come ashore. These ecological relationships have significant amenity value to the client. This project was chosen by Green Shores for Homes (GSH) - a regional, EPA-funded program - as a pilot test-case for the future development of environmentally sound shoreline projects. The project became an ideal laboratory to fine-tune this program. As people's lives become increasingly urban, the need for connections to nature will only intensify. Hybrid spaces like A Shoreline Re-Imagined blur the margin between built and unbuilt and provide an opportunity to re-engage with nature's rhythms.


Design Team:

Paul R Broadhurst


General + Landscape Contractor: Dick McDonald

Architect: Jeff Phillips

Interior Designer: Gregory Carmichael Interior Design

Metal Fabricator: T-Tech Inc.

Lighting: Keithly Electric

Engineering: Steve Tapps

Legal Permitting + Shoreline Issues: Watershed Company (Kenny Booth, Mark Garff)

Shoreline Sub Contractors: Stillwater Marine, Sea and Shore Construction

Hard Surfacing: Custom Concrete Castings, Braden Concrete

Stone Tile Fabrication: Homchick Stoneworks


Ruby Rayne, Moto.Red LLC

Claire Takacs, Takacs Photography

Andrew Buchannan, Subtle Light Photography

Miranda Estes, Miranda Estes Photography

Date of Completion: Final Phase Completed in June 2016


Modern landscape with patio and pool red outdoor seating, outdoor fireplace

Clients approached Paul Sangha Creative to create a resort-like experience for their spectacular property nestled along the slopes of West Vancouver, Canada. The property-owners envisioned a multi-functional outdoor space to host large events, family and community groups, while also

maintaining a spa-like quality and sense of ‘escape’ in the heart of the city.

The Sublime Garden was born from an elegant, restrained design language that was developed closely and collaboratively with the architect, interior designer, and clients at the onset of the project. The result is a serene outdoor oasis that draws from the geometry and palette of the home to form lounging terraces, reflecting water features, architectural plantings, all crafted with a tonal palette of Canadian limestone, Ipe wood, and foliage.

Modern garden sculpture, lush landscape, water feature, arbor

Challenged with an elevation change of approximately thirty feet from the front to the rear of the property, the Sublime Garden is designed as a series of stepped terraces that form intimate and expansive gathering spaces as one moves from the street further into the garden. The expansive driveway and sports court at the entry of the property form the first level of the garden. Here, you pass through an intricate gateway of perforated waterjet-cut aluminum panels that define the vehicular gate to the property. The dramatic entry roof structure of the home projects over the driveway to form a porte-cochere, where a brilliant red bespoke sculpture, entitled ‘Mobius’ sits on an infinity-edge water feature located on-axis to the entry door. To enhance the arrival experience, the entry path to the front door was designed to ‘float’ over a water feature that wraps along the front of the residence, reinforcing the sense of escape, and spa-like experience desired by the clients.

Traveling along the side of the home and to the rear garden, stairways are reimagined as more than simply a means of movement between spaces. They become sculptural and habitable spaces, integrating generous landings that open up as seating areas, transforming into terraced planters and integrated benches to manage complex corners and transitions around the building.

A composition of glistening water elements, sunken terraces, and an open play lawn comprises the rear garden. Anchoring the pool, a custom cantilevered metal trellis forms a stunning focal point and

noteworthy feature within the garden, its panels informing the design of the entry gates at the front of the property. The design and development of the custom metalwork was a result of a rigorous and

collaborative design process, one which involved sketches, one-toone models, and an iterative refinement process between our firm and the metal fabrication studio. The intricate patterning of the

panels was born from a desire to create a sculptural foil against the minimalist façade of the home. Inspired by the dappled light cast through tree branches, the perforated forms were carefully considered, with no two cut-outs being alike. One-to-one mock-ups were developed, and the shapes further refined based on the capabilities of the water jet cutter. For example, the insertion point of the cutter creates a right angle cut, so all shapes and their origin points had to be carefully crafted to avoid any straight/sharp edges. Together, the curved perforations travel from the bottom to the top, increasing from dense to more transparent, providing a sense of enclosure around the seating, while allowing light to pass through the roof structure. This was paralleled in the entry gate to provide added privacy and screening at eye level, then slowly dissipate as your eye travels upward.

Night, modern landscape with infinity pool, patio, decks, outdoor seating, outdoor fireplace, red outdoor rocking chairs, modern art, pool house

Another notable feature is the brilliant red ‘Mobius’ on-axis to the entry of the home. This special piece took almost one year from design to installation and approximately five months to fabricate. The process included 3D modeling, 3D printed mock-ups, and numerous iterations to achieve its smooth, seamless façade. Red automotive paint was used to create the striking color which was inspired by a painting entitled ‘Quantificateur Rouge’ by Canadian Artist Guido Molinari which is hung inside the home.


Design Team:

Paul Sangha, Mohit Srivastava, Mostafa Shaikhbahaie, David Bishop,

Mahsa Azari, Oskar Eriksson, Lara Davis


Architect – Hlynsky + Davis Architects Inc.

Interior Designer – Heffel Balagno Design

Landscape Contractor – Fossil Landscape Construction

Metal Fabricator – Metal & Wood Products Ltd.

Lighting – Kuban Electric

Pool – Alka Pools

Photography – Brett Ryan Studios

Date of Completion: June 2018


***** Watch GRAY Awards 2020: The Movie! ******

Thank you to Title Sponsor Marvin


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