Bloedel Education Center

Located on the 150-acre Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, Washington, a building that will ultimately be a lecture hall began life as a memorial to the owner’s 62 years of marriage. The 89-year-old client, owner of the semi-public estate of gardens, asked for a building with a view of his wife’s unmarked grave, located at the end of an existing reflecting pool.

The stone supports of the future Education Center were set on axis with the gravesite. Exposed heavy timber posts and beams carry the structural load. Stone plinths support the superstructure, which spans across an intermittent watercourse. The entry walk centers the axis through the building to a viewing deck. The line of the axis continues through woods into an open meadow where it is marked by a boulder before it goes on to reach the gravesite.

The owner’s bedroom is twisted so that his bed is also aligned on-axis with the gravesite. The stone and wooden structure of the 1,400-square-foot building is carefully fit into its forest context. The organic wooden structure will someday decay, but the stone elements will always be there as a symbol of the owner’s relationship with his wife.