A traffic median never looked so living in downtown Seattle. Next door to the Bullitt Center, a highly sustainable office building in Seattle that expects to get awarded Living Building Challenge certification, McGilvra Place Park has been named the world’s first Living Park.

The half-acre pocket park on the edge of Seattle’s Central District was the first project in the world to meet the Infrastructure and Landscape Typology requirements within the Living Building Challenge. The traffic median was completely re-developed in 2013 and now serves as an active neighborhood public space with outdoor ping-pong, benches and native plants.

“Neighborhood plans have long called for more green space in this area,” Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation says in a statement. “And the sustainability features of the park made it much more compelling to the community and really set it apart.”

Point32, the development partner for the Bullitt Center, helped create the vision for McGilvra Place, immediately adjacent to the Bullitt Center.

In a public-private collaboration between the Bullitt Foundation and Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Dept. of Transportation, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks Foundation, funding was found to transform what had been simply a small triangle of land since 1901.

Landscape architect The Berger Partnership led the design with Springline Design adding civic engineering services. WS Contractors completed the work.

The project, as with the Bullitt Center, required that The Berger Partnership use materials not on the Red List. Improvements to the site included protecting 11 century-old London plane trees, transforming an adjacent street into a public plaza, replacing turf with native vegetation, installing park furniture made from reclaimed timber, adding a ping-pong table to active the space and improving site accessibility.

“McGilbra Place Park, like the Bullitt Center that stands beside it, is both inspired and buoyed by the natural splendors of Seattle,” says Amanda Sturgeon, International Living Future Institute Executive director.

Downtown Seattle now has a small park and much larger building both alive and well. 

Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular MechanicsSports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.