Environmental education classroom, welcome station in the works for Bridle Trails

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today to review a request for a land classification change necessary to build a welcome station and environmental education classroom at horse-friendly Bridle Trails State Park.

Construction could begin this fall on the buildings, which have a total proposed footprint of 1,432 square feet, an outdoor deck area, and a permeable ADA interpretive trail designed to increase accessibility to the park and forest at 5300 116th Ave. N.E. in Kirkland.

The Bridle Trails Park Foundation is footing the estimated $1.5 million bill for the project. The foundation will deed the buildings to Washington State Parks for management, and will pay for maintenance and educational programming.

Located between Kirkland and Redmond, Bridle Trails has 28 miles of maintained trails open to equestrians, hikers, walkers and runners. The park has four horse arenas and hosts horse shows, organized trail rides and other equestrian events. The project’s proposed location is a forest clearing southeast of the arenas.

The proposed project includes the environmental education classroom, a 1,070-square-foot classroom building including a main room with a capacity of 35 people, two gender neutral accessible restrooms, and a storage/mechanical room. The 362-square foot welcome station includes an office and a storage/utility room for a park ranger and interpretive staff. A 488-square-foot outdoor deck between the two buildings to be used for outdoor education is also planned. The project also includes a permeable ADA interpretive trail to create equitable access to the park and forest.

Hoshide Wanzer Architects is the architect, Jones and Jones Architects and Landscape Architects is the landscape architect, and the team includes Swenson Say Faget as structural engineer, Mayfly Engineering as civil engineer, and Sider Byers Engineers for MEP.

Project architect Rachael Kitagawa with Hoshide Wanzer said the buildings were designed to blend into the landscape, with the program broken up into two buildings so they could nestle into and around the landscape and the existing forest. The classroom building has a low, sloped roof following the slope of the hillside.

“The structure endeavors to be light on the land with a cantilever that will allow the site to heal below the building with planting,” Kitagawa said. “The buildings are oriented along the solstices and cardinal directions, as a potential talking point about our connections to nature, and the lengthwise southern orientation for the classroom and the lower height of the welcome station allow for ample sunlight.”

No healthy trees will be removed for the project, all planting will be native, and the trail was designed to reduce cut and fill and preserve all trees, Kitagawa said. The welcome center was also sited to negate cut and fill, and will have a green roof. Vertical wood siding will have a stained finish to mimic the color of the surrounding tree bark.

Park Ranger Matt Birklid said the education proposed for the environmental education classroom will be on all aspects of Bridle Trails, including the equestrian element, and local equestrians have been involved in the planning process.

The location for the proposed project is currently classified as a Resource Recreation Area, which does not allow development of indoor facilities. The commission is considering updating the park’s land classifications to make the proposed location a Recreation Area, and reducing the size of the Recreation Area surrounding the arena in the north central portion of the park to maintain close to the same balance of Resource Recreation and Recreation Areas in the park. If the commission approves the land classification update, there will be 0.52 acres of additional Recreation Area in the park.

Watch the commission meeting live at https://tinyurl.com/landclassification



Hoshide Wanzer


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