Patrick Robinson
Project Director Yangming Chu is doing a little more labor himself as the artisans relax and prepare to return to China. He has overseen the project during the time the artisans were on site. CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

SLIDESHOW: Seattle Chinese Garden 'essentially complete'; Artisans headed home early

Soft open set for Dec. 31; Grand Opening to happen in May

The Seattle Chinese Garden, and the Knowing the Spring Courtyard under construction by visiting Chinese artisans for the past few months is now essentially complete, and ahead of schedule with only grading, a single cement staircase and landscaping to be finished. The artisans are heading home to China on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The Knowing the Spring Courtyard is slated for a Dec. 31 soft opening with the Grand Opening celebration to take place in mid- May, 2011. Following the initial opening the courtyard will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

The garden is located on 4.6 acres of land just north of the South Seattle Community College campus and just grew in size slightly by nearly half an acre recently when the college donated some land near the southern entrance of the courtyard. That land will permit a staircase to be built connecting the path from SSCC to the garden as well as an ADA access path.

The finishing touches required a lot of fine tuning as the architect on the project. Feng Dacheng Chief Architect took great pains to adjust the placement and orientation of the trees in the welcoming courtyard.
One tree was in fact moved to the north 4 feet to prevent direct alignment with an entrance. He has since departed but people on staff will stay in communication with him. Before he left, "He was adamant about making sure the shape and the character of the trees were consistent with his vision," said Joe Phillips Assistant Construction Manager.

While not many plants are in place they are coming. "The courtyard is supposed to be all green," said Phillips.

The original garden structure, the Song Mei pavilion, a smaller wooden structure was also rebuilt to repair damage it had suffered during its ten year presence. "They took out each column, and put a steel rod inside so in the future it will be more secure, it will hold the tiles," said Julia Freimund, Program Director for the garden.

Over the course of the next month plans will be made to accept reservations in the courtyard for weddings, and other celebrations but nothing is firm as yet.

Atop a large mound of dirt to the north of the courtyard in the next few weeks, a cable holding a balloon will be installed to provide a visual reference for the tower that is planned for the next phase of garden construction.

Also underway is a documentary by filmmaker Matt Lincoln that is a recounting of the construction of the courtyard, including interviews with the artisans and people responsible for the project. That film will be shown in a continuous loop to visitors and is expected to be complete in the next 30 days.

Location: Drive into north entrance of South Seattle Community College (1600 16th Ave. SW). Drive past arboretum and Chan Education Center. Turn left into small parking lot. Look for signs directing you to a classroom.

For information: www.seattlechinesegarden.org or 206-764-5219

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