Washington Fruit & Produce Headquarters, Yakima

Berger Partnership: Located near the confluence of the Yakima and Naches Rivers, the site is part of a floodplain. Historic maps show the area cleared and regraded after the turn of century for agricultural use and as part of what was then the Northern Pacific Railroad line that still passes to the east of the site as it heads through the gap in the hills created by the Yakima River. Processing and storage facilities for the company flank the site to the east and influenced the siting and orientation of the new building and entry drive.

Landform

A major landform was designed to embrace the structure and help choreograph the experience of entering the site. The landform or berm has several functions including controlling views both into and out of the site, providing shelter for the structure and the interior courtyard, and creating a structured microcosm of the nearby riparian corridor. The berm allowed us to better balance cut and fill on the site and evoke a sense of enclosure and security in a wide-open space.

Plants

Native species were selected from the nearby riparian corridor and the surrounding hillsides to demonstrate their beauty and their ability to adapt to a managed landscape. The layout is evocative of both natural patterns and the ordered row planting of the site’s agricultural past. Non-native but culturally significant DED-resistant American elms and sugar maples were planted to provide shade for the parking areas and as a reminder of some of the first ornamental trees planted in the valley.

The Courtyard

Much the way the riparian corridor and river serve as an oasis in this arid climate, the courtyard was intended to provide a cooling and calming effect upon visitors and workers of the Washington Fruit Company. A large board-form concrete wall bisects the northern berm and connects to the earth-sheltered lunchroom. Board-form concrete was chosen to connect the site wall to the roughhewn wood covering of the building. A green roof covers the lunchroom, providing a literal and symbolic connection to the land. The central opening is an intuitive entry to site and looks back through the aperture to distant hills and the gap through which the Yakima River passes. The entire interior office space opens up onto the courtyard allowing everyone visual access to the space. The entry walk is elevated slightly above the adjacent landscape giving the impression of a boardwalk and further strengthening the landscape’s connection to water.

Agricultural Influence

Washington Fruit and the community in which it resides have a strong connection to agriculture. The design team sought to incorporate elements of that connection into the design. The core planting and native stones are laid out in a grid reminiscent of rows of orchards or crops. The grid dictates the layout of the building’s structural framework, and the building itself is evocative of a portion of and old barn structure. The shade structure marking the entrance and providing much needed shade over the parking area is agricultural shade cloth stretched over a trellis typically used for growing hop vines.

Sustainability

All stormwater is collected and infiltrated on the site, which reduces the irrigation demand for the plant materials. All soils and stones are from on site or nearby local sources. Irrigation water is from non-potable sources. Locally grown native plants were used to improve habitat and for their suitability to the climate. Tree planting and the agricultural shade structure reduce the heat island effect.

Washington Fruit & Produce Headquarters
Location: Yakima, WA, USA
Landscape Architect: Berger Partnership
Architect: Graham Baba
Completed: 2016

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