My favorite spot in Seattle’s International District is Hing Hay Park. It's a great place to hang out...in the shade of the trees, at the red metal tables, or under the pavilion. A good spot to have lunch outside, run into a friend from the neighborhood, maybe play a game of chess or ping pong. It also regularly hosts civic and cultural events. True to its name (which translates as 'park for pleasurable gatherings'), it's a vibrant public space that serves as the hub of the neighborhood.
Despite its location in downtown Seattle, it can be surprisingly peaceful and relaxing at Hing Hay. In the early mornings, before the delivery trucks arrive and all the other city noises fully kick in, you can sit in the park, listen to the birds, and forget that you’re in one of the densest parts of the city. Or even in a city at all. I like how this park can feel like either a hive of activity or a calming respite, depending on the time of day.
Hing Hay Park was built in 1974, designed by the landscape architect S.K. Sakuma. Steps lead down into a central red brick square. Benches line the square, and tables and chairs are set up when the weather is good. The centerpiece of the park is an ornately carved and painted pavilion, designed and built in Taipei, Taiwan.
There's currently some construction going on at Hing Hay. This is for the new expansion to the park. A large section is being added which will roughly double the park's size, while the existing portion of the park is undergoing some renovations. The principal landscape architect and civil engineer behind the expansion is the Seattle firm SvR Design. They've partnered on the project with the Beijing-based landscape architecture firm Turenscape. The design for the expansion includes a plaza, a perforated-metal gateway that will function as a performance space, terraced bleacher-style seating, activity spaces, curved walkways, and abundant landscaping. The expansion will flow into the existing park, creating one unified public space.
At the moment, the site of the expansion may not look like much more than a random, and rather chaotic, pile of materials and machinery. But that’s one of the things I love about construction sites: Watching something rise out of, seemingly, nothing. It's fun to see someone's idea come to fruition as, over time, something identifiable starts to take shape from what was once just a pile of dirt and rubble. So I’m pretty excited about seeing the new park when it’s completed in a few months. It should be a great addition to the neighborhood.
I'll check back at the end of the summer with photos of the finished project...
More renderings (unobstructed by chainlink!) of the final design can be seen here.