Des Moines Marina Steps

Client: City of Des Moines

Location: Des Moines, Washington

Completion Date: 2021

Size: 45,265

The Des Moines Marina Steps is a catalyst public-private project at the Des Moines Marina designed to create a connection between the Puget Sound waterfront and the uphill central city while celebrating commerce, community, and views.

The Marina Steps is the first phase in a masterplan that includes the development of various public amenities in conjunction with adjacent parcels for private development. Located on the existing Des Moines Marina, which currently includes 730 boat slips (uncovered and open), a working boatyard, dry storage, an esplanade, and public access areas to the Puget Sound for fishing and recreation, the Steps will be a 45,265-square-foot activity hub connecting to the 223rd Street Watershed project to the east, development sites Parcel A and B to the north and south, and future Plaza and Marina projects to the west. The Marina steps and switchback ramps will navigate the 36-foot elevation change with universal access lookouts along the pathway. The terraced landscape will include driftwood timbers reminiscent of the natural rugged Washington waterfront creating places to pause and sit along the way for views of the working waterfront.

In addition to providing a much-needed pedestrian link between downtown and the waterfront, the Steps will become a showcase for stormwater management and urban design. Water infiltration planters will line the pedestrian walk, reconnecting natural drainage and reintroducing a landscape infiltration treatment at the corridor between the city and Puget Sound. The planters, part of a future phase, will treat the 60-acre watershed, East of the site, providing added environmental protection for Puget Sound.

Designed in partnership with PLACE

The Steps are bookended by two sites for future development; Parcel A to the north and Parcel B to the south. The pedestrian steps and ramps will not only create an enjoyable promenade but provide access to the future adjacent buildings at each floor level. This access is accomplished by locating step and ramp landings at the appropriate elevation. The sensitive integration of indoor/ outdoor space creates an accessible and inclusive environment for tenants and visitors.

A Plaza will be developed at the base of the steps as part of a future phase, designed to celebrate the journey from the city center to the Marina. The Plaza will be developed in the aesthetic language of the steps and highlight the terminus of the journey from downtown. The Plaza will provide recreation and respite for users as well as providing a compelling backdrop for community events such as the farmers market.

The Marina Steps and ramp switchbacks will be composed of timeless architectural materials utilized in a contemporary language. A palette of concrete, stone, steel, and wood will create a neutral and tactile stage to highlight plantings and public art. Informational signage will be placed along the path to describe the water treatment techniques employed onsite and the value this process provides to the community and health of the Puget Sound ecosystem. The project is estimated to be completed in the fall of 2021.