PFS Studio

Landscape Architect: Kelty McKinnon

A director and principal at PFS Studio, Kelty and her team designed experientially rich landscaped spaces that encourage guests to reconnect with their environment.

Kelty McKinnon

We are trying to create a finer grain of urban life, not unlike a more traditional European village, with its curving streets, sidewalk eateries, and multiple places to linger.

Avenue’s Emotional landscape

Landscape architecture embraces everything around, on and in between buildings. A skilled landscape architect can create experientially rich spaces that encourage guests to reconnect with their environment and with each other. In other words, a landscape architect can create a space that people like to use and spend time in. PFS Studio, a leading Canadian planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm, was brought onboard to make that happen at Avenue. Kelty McKinnon, a director and principal at PFS Studio, and her team are responsible for the public realm at Avenue’s ground level, which consists of streetscapes, an internal shared street, plaza with water features, and amenity terraces.

The Mission

We were asked to create extraordinary outdoor spaces that would be something unexpected and new for downtown Bellevue. The project aims to create a unique urban experience that is at once emergent from Bellevue’s landscape and history, yet something brand new that hasn’t been tried before in the city.

Creative Process

We consider many moving parts at once. We look at the flows that will pass through the site, from pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, and stormwater. We also consider the larger context of the region, the city, and neighborhood, and how that is expressed in material, light, and plant form.


The inspiration for this project was largely taken from the sinuous curves of the architecture, the history of the creeks that once ran through Bellevue, and the findings of the Feng Shui expert that consulted on the project. The space celebrates water while the stone paving, undulating seating walls, and native plant massings help create a rich series of outdoor gathering spaces.

The Plaza

A carpet of special paving spans from building face to building face across a curbless street that is delineated with bollards, planters, benches, and groves. The result is a space that feels like a large public plaza between the buildings, where people can pass through as well as linger and enjoy time within the more intimately scaled spaces. The central plaza is the jewel that will draw people into the site, to shop, linger by the fire, enjoy the water features, or dine under a canopy of trees.

The FEeling

We are trying to create a finer grain of urban life, not unlike a more traditional European village, with its curving streets, sidewalk eateries, and multiple places to linger.

Elements and Materials

Streets are paved with concrete and stone pavers. The undulating ribbon-like benches are sculpted from white concrete and morph from wall to bench in a seamless manner, accenting edges and transitional spaces. Plant massings throughout the site will be edged with corten steel to complement the material choices of the architecture and to warm the space.

Extraordinary Features

There will be a striking wooden screen that borders half of the plaza and sits within a tiered water feature and planting bed. The screen is made up of vertical wood elements that have differing painted planes. As visitors move through the space, the screen will shift color, animating this edge. The central plaza is flexibly designed to accommodate both large events and smaller, everyday gatherings. The central feature is a sculptural water feature that can be reflective, vertically active or appear to be shimmering.

The Landscape Design in Five Words

Elegant, seamless, activated, fine-grained, multisensory.