A Fight to Save a Corporate Campus Intertwined With Nature


Protests often erupt over proposals to demolish or even alter historic buildings. Threats to landscaping usually get far less attention.

But that’s changing in a Seattle suburb, where a developer plans to build on the corporate campus that George H. Weyerhaeuser created for his family’s timberland and wood products company beginning in the late 1960s.

The site, which the City of Federal Way annexed in 1994, has been lauded over the years for the pioneering way it intertwines building and landscape. Today, it is caught up in controversy over plans to build massive warehouses that opponents say would disrupt the balance with nature but that the property’s new owner says are necessary to pay for restoration of the headquarters building and maintenance of the grounds.

In the decades after World War II, companies left crowded cities to erect jewel-box buildings on pristine swaths of lawn all over suburbia. But Mr. Weyerhaeuser, his company’s president and chief executive, wanted its headquarters to blend in with nature rather than stand out.

Industrial Realty is moving forward and has plans to erect the buildings on spec, Mr. Ostenson said. The company is talking to biotech and other companies about leasing, but he did not rule out having the buildings become distribution hubs.

Regardless of the ultimate uses, opponents believe that the new development would simply take too big a bite out of the storied site.

Mr. Walker, the landscape architect, designed other prominent commissions such as the 9/11 Memorial in New York. Now 88, he is among those who have urged Industrial Realty to build within the framework of an early master plan for development created for Weyerhaeuser, calling the campus “an endangered species.”


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