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2012 Archive

Capturing More Value In Office Design Through Co-Working Strategies

By Kristin Jensen, Interior Designer, VIA Architecture LOOP Creative Agency, photo credit: Michael

The transition from closed-door offices and cubicles to shared or flex office space is a well-established trend. Even now, scooters and skateboards demonstrate the radical change in how people move within office spaces.  Today’s office space is embracing individual identities and social communication as a means to enhance worker productivity and satisfaction. Regardless of the change, space planning remains conscious of capital and operational costs.  So, where do we look for the next trends in space planning that will continuously improve returns per square foot and retain a quality workforce.

As businesses drew a deep breath and plunged into the economic downturn, the balance of operational costs and key employee retention took on a new level of importance.  As reductions in headcount continued, many quality people started over, started lower, or stayed home, and every home felt at risk across the board.  Whether an employee made the cut or not, we have all had an opportunity to assess our work/life balance and the value of time at home and at the office.  It is here in this collective experience that we should look for the next trends in office space.

With the promises of rewards for tireless hours in the office no longer abundant, trend makers amongst their working peers have rediscovered the value of managing their home life during business hours, and dismissing the value of endless meetings. In short, the next trend is to make the office environment an extension …

Monday News Roundup

Jul 09, 2012

Happy sunny summer Monday! Here’s a quick roundup of a couple of last week’s highlights:

Crochet Playgrounds by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam (Colossal) In the mid 1990s Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam was showing a large scale crochet artwork at an art gallery when two rambunctious children approached her and asked if the sculpture, resembling a colorful hammock, could be climbed on.

eVolo Announces Their 2013 Skyscraper Competition (Inhabitat) The 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition is now open for business and looking for the most outrageous, exceptional, unusual, and forward-thinking designs out there.

Meet Seattle’s ‘Baby London Eye’ (The Atlantic Cities) Seattle’s newest attraction, a Ferris wheel known as the “Great Wheel,” officially debuted last month.

A Very Architizer-Canada Day (Architizer) Last week, we wished a Happy Canada Day to our neighbors to the north! To celebrate, Architizer compiled the top ten projects to have come out of the Canadian architectural world in the last few years.

Green-Roofed Shelter is Urban Curbside Lounge for Paris (Web Urbanist) JCDecaux, the North American company that invented the ‘street furniture’ concept of outdoor advertising, collaborated with designer Mathieu Lehanneur to create a cool green-roofed rest stop for pedestrians in Paris.

Monday News Roundup

Jul 02, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the more interesting bits and pieces of news, art, and architecture from the last couple weeks:

How the Feds Are Building More Sustainable Cities (The Atlantic Cities) In recognition of the three-year anniversary of the federal partnership’s formation, the three agencies have released a progress report, Three Years of Helping Communities Achieve Their Visions for Growth and Prosperity. The facts they have assembled are very, very impressive.

Human Nature: Jason deCaires Taylor’s Submerged Figurative Sculptures Form Thriving Artificial Reefs (Colossal) Artist Jason deCaires Taylor has become famous for his immense underwater installations in locations off the coast of Mexico, the Bahamas, and the West Indies where he uses eco-friendly concrete sculptures specifically designed to harbor life. The artificial reefs are photographed and filmed in numerous stages from the moment they are first submerged to months and years later after thriving ecosystems form within his artwork.

5th Annual Creative Spaces Event (Arch Daily) The fifth anniversary of Montreal’s Creative Spaces summer event highlights the creation of a pedestrian mall on St. Catherine, between St-Hubert and Papineau streets.

What if bus stops were designed as if bus stops really mattered? (Switchboard) There are still bus stops that are no more than a sign on a pole, although many now have some form of shelter from wind and rain, and some have sophisticated service information posted, the most advanced ones with real-time updates.  But there is still a sense of functionality about most …

Rewarding Good Design Deeds — SEED Certification and Public Interest Design

Catherine Calvert, AIA Director of Community Sustainability, VIA Architecture

I recently attended a two-day training course at the University of Washington on the SEED certification system, sponsored by the Public Interest Design Institute.  SEED (an acronym for Social, Economic, Environmental Design) is a framework developed to assist community-focused projects in establishing objectives, following a holistic and inclusive design process, and measuring success using self-defined goals.  Similar only phonetically to another well-known sustainability rating system, the SEED system uses a grass-roots approach to both certification and the design process itself — membership and certification are free, projects must grow out of community need and involve communities as an integral part of the work, and no prescribed points are defined for a project to meet.  The SEED Evaluator allows socially-based projects to achieve third-partyvalidation, encouraging both transparency and accountability, and creates a new standard intended to be used by community organizers, leaders, designers, and funders to measure the public interest design aspects of design projects.

Pomegranate Center collaboration in Walla Walla (photo credit Seattle Times)

The course was led by Bryan Bell, a well-known advocate for public interest design, founder of Design Corps, and author of books such as “Good Deeds, Good Design”  and “Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism”.  Deeply respected in the architectural community for his pioneering work in socially conscious design, Bell is a natural mentor, keen to further the concept of public interest design and to engage a broader part of thearchitectural profession in recasting its role in the community. The course …

What Would You Do With the Old 520?

Image source: Seattle Transit Blog

Imagine stumbling across 363,000 tons worth of concrete pontoons in the free section of Craig’s List. Would you build a floating island? A massive version of Stonehenge? Perhaps stack them on top of each other for a 33 story condo complex?

Well this is your chance to show off your idea for what our state should do with these massive blocks of concrete.

Read all about it on the Seattle Transit Blog by clicking here.

Meet Aaron Schaefer, one of the newest members of the VIA family:

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Aaron, and I am a husband and proud caregiver to a 5 year-old brown mutt and two-year-old human child.  When not doing those things, I dabble in Architecture.

What made you decide to go into your field?

Two things; as a child I had a penchant for recreating things I saw out of Legos, which, later on, I  deemed a skill most easily translated to the field of Architecture.  Or probably more so, spending many hours exploring the quiet spaces of the out-buildings on my grandparents’ farm.  I found great joy playing in these quiet, mostly neglected “ruins”, and then later I found Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, who also had a fondness for ruins.

What did your family think of your chosen field?

“You have to be good at math, right?”  You don’t, the machines do that stuff.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?

Bruce Johnson, my fifth year studio instructor, taught that an interesting concept or narrative can be sparked by celebrating things which may appear to be, at first glance, insignificant or peripheral to a central idea. Then utilizing them as a way of informing the original premise.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path?

7am classes, who can function that early?

What inspires you?

Watching my son try to make sense of all this crazy new (to him) stuff out there.  He keeps me on …

Monday News Roundup

Jun 18, 2012

Happy rainy Monday morning from Seattle– here are some of last week’s interesting items:

DIY Wearable Turn Signals for Cyclists Turn On When You Lift Your Arm (Treehugger) A fun project by Instructables user CTY1995 is great for cyclists riding city streets. It’s turn signal arm bands that light up when you lift your arm.

Parks and Pavilions: A Meeting of Landscape and Architecture (Sustainable Cities Collective)

The new issue of Architype Review focuses on parks, the spaces designed to explored on foot, and pavilions, the spots from which visitors can take a moment to sit and enjoy the landscape. Some of the best pavilions compliment their setting, creating a unique presence and vantage point. They fundamentally respect the environment while providing a new texture.

Why Cities are Better for Watersheds than Suburbs (Sustainable Cities Collective) Development necessarily creates giant swaths of constructed areas that have no unifying ecosystem. It also disturbs existing natural areas that are part of the natural cycling of water, minerals, chemicals, plants and animals. Yet despite these complications, density is valuable in terms of impact mitigation on a per-person basis, as least as far as pollutant loading and watershed health is concerned.

An Artist Reinvents Architectural Photography via iPhone (The Atlantic Cities) Lynette Jackson, a telecommunications professional from Atlanta, is not an architect, but turns her architectural photography into complex art pieces, letting sections of her built subjects set the tone for the layers of design treatments, created using only the apps on her phone.

A Boon For Downtown’s Urban Parents

By Amanda Bryan, Architect Intern VIA Architecture (originally posted on

Many cities, faced with increasing populations and a growing demand for urban living, are moving toward making their downtowns welcoming residential neighborhoods for families with children. Seattle is no different. In the last year, a new and exciting effort among government and private sector leaders has emerged to respond to downtown Seattle’s changing demographics.

Since 1990, downtown Seattle’s population has grown by over 70 percent according to census data, making it the fastest growing neighborhood in Seattle within the last two decades. The overall population has increased by 25,000 new residents, and the neighborhood is now home to over 1,700 children 15 and under, and more than 3,000 children 19 and under. These are not small numbers. Downtown Seattle has welcomed more residents in the last 20 years than downtown San Francisco, Portland, Denver, San Diego and many other U.S. peer cities.

Developers are rushing to respond to this demand, currently building or planning to break ground on over 3,000 housing units within Downtown this year, more than at any one time in the last decade. For many families though, there is still a major obstacle standing between them and downtown living: neighborhood schools. Continue reading the full article here..

Monday News Roundup

Jun 11, 2012

Happy sunny Monday! Here are some highlights from the last two weeks:

10 Beautiful Photos Celebrating World Oceans Day 2012 (Treehugger) The photography of Brian Skerry helps illustrate why World Oceans Day is a big deal.

Happy 145th Birthday Frank Lloyd Wright (Arch Daily) Perhaps best known for his Fallingwater House and New York’s iconic Guggenheim Museum (see our original doodle below), Wright was a prolific architect, interior designer, and writer who spent his life advocating an “organic” architecture at harmony with its surroundings.

Income inequality, as seen from space (Per Square Mile) Per Square Mile writers were curious: could you actually see income inequality from space? It turned out to be easier than expected.

Giant Vending Machine Dispenses Bikes and Surfboards Instead of Junk Food (Inhabitat) Forget Doritos and sugary sodas, the goodies that this vending machine in San Francisco recently dispensed were out of the ordinary! Instead of junk food, the machine delivered large goodies that would be used in adventure travel.

How Permaculture Could Transform Campuses Across the Globe (Treehugger) At the international Permaculture Your Campus Conference, directors of the award-winning UMass Permaculture Initiative will give an introduction to permaculture in a campus setting and share the value that it has created for the University of Massachusetts system and local community.

When an Earthquake Meets Truly Old Buildings (The Atlantic Cities) The impact of the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region last week appears to have been made worse by the fact that significant seismic …

Get Stoked to Surf The Fourth Wave of Planning

by Dan Bertolet, Urban Planner Photo credit: VIA Architecture (Original article posted on

Last year in Seattle, the Bullitt Foundation’s proposed Living Building was subjected to a costly legal challenge based on Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Opponents argued that an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be required because the building would block views. Given that it’s on track to being one of the greenest commercial buildings ever constructed in the United States, and is also located in a dense, walkable, transit-rich neighborhood, the fact that environmental regulations could be exploited to oppose the project suggests something is amiss, to put it mildly.

Following on the heels of the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Washington’s SEPA was created during an era in which the planning culture was dominated by concerns over ecological degradation and responded with strict limits on growth -– planning’s so-called first wave.

Continue reading here…