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The Vancouver Cat Café opened up in International Village this last Monday. This curious little storefront is breaking some interesting ground in Vancouver.

As part of our commitment to sustainable practices, VIA made sure that a high percentage of the built-in furniture from our former Homer Street offices in Vancouver were repurposed into new design and office projects.

The Catfé was one of the beneficiaries of this program, and we have been excited to see how things have come along since their location in International Village was announced a few months back.

The Catfé offers patrons the opportunity to purchase a coffee and then enter a separate lounge with a variety of potential feline friends. There is also a program wherein if one of these rescue cats and clients hit it off, there are BCSPCA adoption services available. It is an interesting prospect and has garnered a lot of buzz for the second floor of the shopping center at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station.

International Village is one of VIA’s projects dating back to the early nineties. The Catfé retail space overlooks the entrance plaza that acts as the crossroads between Vancouver’s Chinatown and the sprouting Northeast False Creek neighbourhood that is growing around stadiums and SkyTrain station. This new activity may re-enliven this retail hub with new users and cat-crazy activity.

Congrats cool cats. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

By Brendan Hurley, planning nerd and urban designer in VIA Architecture’s Vancouver office (will be dressed as a dimension-hopping mad scientist this year)

Halloween is an urbanist holiday (shhh don’t tell anybody).

Halloween as a Holiday – more than any other – is about neighbourhood. It is a holiday that teaches and surpasses what it means to be part of a community. I have a strong connection to this holiday, and as an adult still dress up in costume to both enjoy the night with my neighbours and to hand out candy to children and compliment their costumed efforts to keep that neighbourly tradition alive. However, as a planner and urban designer, this holiday taught me a great deal. As a child dragging a pillowcase full of sugar treats through the night, I learned a lot about city-building, even if I wasn’t aware at the time.

This is a holiday that survives on social capital, but is also innately reliant on the built environment. The basic premise is right in the phrase joyfully screamed at each doorway: “Trick-or-Treat!” It is a social contract that demands participation from both sides (I give more candy to those with more effort and heart in their costumes), but is also inherently connects that participation to the larger community. The act of decorating yards with jack-o-lanterns is to be explicit about participation as a “neighbour”. The young, going from door to door, are shown their connection to their community and their place with each glowing pumpkin or “scary” display, …

VIA is hard at work on the new location for the Tacoma Amtrak Station at Freighthouse Square. The project was featured yesterday in Tacoma’s local new site, The News Tribune:

Nearly two years after state officials unveiled a preliminary design for Tacoma’s new Amtrak station to critical comments from Tacoma citizens and the architectural community, a final rendering is being rolled out this week by the Washington Department of Transportation.

The final image bears little resemblance to the warehouse-like initial concept. The planned station has been relocated from the west end of historic Freighthouse Square to the 100-year-old former Milwaukee Road freighthouse’s middle section. The corrugated metal walls envisioned in the original plan have been replaced with extensive glass walls, some of which will move upward in pleasant weather to make the station area open-air. A second track and an additional loading platform have been added to the station’s south side to allow for two trains to be handled simultaneously. A public corridor also has been added on the station’s street side to connect the two sections of Freighthouse Square separated by the station.

Read more at The News Tribune.

Last weekend, VIA hosted an interactive table at Design in Public’s Seattle Design Festival Block Party we called Share the City.

Block Party attendees were invited to try their hand at city planning by placing yellow LEGO® bricks onto a large map of Seattle. The goal of the activity was to educate the participants on how and where Seattle is planning to grow, and what tradeoffs the City must consider when planning for that growth. Participants had the opportunity to shape their own solutions for how to accommodate the 120,000 new neighbors projected to arrive in Seattle between now and 2035.

A dry run at VIA Seattle

The VIA team started with a map of the Seattle’s urban villages—areas the City designates in its comprehensive plan as centers for growth. In each urban village, we calculated the approximate number of people that center was expected to add and decided to represent those people with yellow LEGO® bricks, with each brick representing roughly 100 people. The task was to distribute the bricks across the urban villages according to City plans, or to propose one’s own strategy for providing homes for Seattle’s growing population.

What we found was no surprise—while people were interested in learning about the City’s plans, they were much more interested in creating their own rules. Creative new ideas about housing, many from the City’s next generation, included a wide range of approaches—from a new multifamily Space Needle to a neighborhood-sized treehouse to a residential megastructure bridging Elliott Bay.

Many cited …

In collaboration with the Pomegranate Center, VIA’s Community Design Studio is providing design services for a free-standing beach house pavilion in Neah Bay, WA.  Situated on the dramatic Pacific Ocean-facing shore known as Hobuck Beach, the pavilion is located near the northwest tip of the contiguous United States.  Its covered space will provide the Makah Tribe with gathering space for community events and dance rehearsals, as well as a separate artist studio designed to accommodate carving and weaving activities.  The heavy timber columns showcase carved designs by the local artists.

 

The majority of the structure was completed in the winter of 2014/2015, and it has been named Be?is, which means “Beach House” in the traditional Makah language.  From today (Friday, April 10) through Thursday, April 15 the Makah community, the Pomegranate Center, Forterra, and a few representatives from VIA will be participating in a build event to complete the remaining artistic elements of the project.

 

A total of 40 cedar benches will be constructed and carved.  The carved elements are designed such that, when not in use, the benches can be stacked in groups of five to reveal a complete image.  During inclement weather, the bench stacks can be placed between the carved columns to block wind-driven rain and allow the events to continue.

 

Large profile cedar channel siding will be installed on the artist studio, referencing the traditional Makah longhouse construction in a modern way.  The leftover live edge cuts from the benches will be used as creative treatment around the …

All photos by Scott Taylor

The Queensway Transit Exchange in Kelowna British Columbia acts as a gateway to Kelowna’s downtown. While providing transit connectivity to the best of the City’s entertainment, cultural, and employment districts, the Exchange acts as a placemaker and visual enhancement to Kelowna’s core.

This landmark canopy is a single-story, semi-enclosed structure with a curved roof that provides weather protection for the transit island and its eight bus stops.  In line with VIA’s Third Idea, BC’s Wood First Act plays an important role in the design and construction of the canopy.

The glue-laminated timber beam and decking panel provide a naturally beautiful structural roof span nine meters wide by 57 meters long.  Minimal steel tree columns delicately hold up the roof span, increasing visual access throughout the facility, enhancing overall visibility and sightline safety. A lattice screen, together with wind deflectors, will provide additional shelter from the elements. Seating pods at each of the three wind deflectors will be arranged loosely in an arc under the canopy to encourage transit patrons to sit and congregate while awaiting their next transfer.

This canopy is currently under construction and is projected to be fully operational by the end of April 2015.

We are interested in exceptional candidates with strong analytical and communication skills who are passionate and involved in community-building at all scales. This person will work within our multidisciplinary team to provide management and leadership on high-rise residential, commercial and public transit projects.

Experience Requirements

  • Registered architect with 10 to 15 years of project management experience
  • LEED AP preferred

Key Skills

  • Dedicated team player, excellent communicator, possessing demonstrated skill at management of technically complex projects.
  • Strong client relations experience and interest in business development.
  • Experience with project controls on complex building types, including scope, schedule and budget development, change management, tracking and reporting.
  • Passion for high quality design and sustainable design. Experience with sustainable building rating systems an asset.
  • Thorough familiarity with the technical considerations involved in coordinating and executing high-rise residential, commercial, and public transit building types.
  • Strong experience in the management of documentation created in Revit 3D Building Information Modeling and AutoCAD. Fluency with production in these programs and other drawing programs such as Google Sketchup an asset.
  • Skill in the management and coordination of project documentation and preparation of graphic presentation material.
  • Strong experience in the management of collaborative design disciplines, including integrated project delivery experience.

Salary and Benefits

Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Generous benefits, including medical/dental insurance, retirement funds contribution matching, and transit subsidy.

How to Apply

Please email resume in PDF with cover letter/email, and “Project Manager” in subject-line, attention Catherine Calvert, AIA, ccalvert@via-architecture.com:

  •  Please include samples of your work, keeping total email size below 2 MB.
  • No phone calls or office visits please.
  • Applicants must meet minimum experience qualifications …

Intermediate Planner/Urban Designer

We are currently seeking candidates to join our team for the position of Intermediate Planner/Urban Designer to manage long-range planning and policy assignments, including station area, comprehensive and sub area plans as well as large scale infrastructure policy and planning. This person will work closely with our cross disciplinary team committed to place-based design.

We are interested in exceptional candidates with strong analytical and communication skills who are passionate and involved in community building at all scales.

Educational Requirements

  • Masters in Urban Planning (with a focus on Urban Design preferred)
  • or Masters in Landscape Architecture
  • or Architecture with a strong basis in Planning or Urban Design

Experience Requirement

  • 5 to 10 years as a Planner or Urban Designer in the public or private sector
  • Professional Registration preferred (AICP, MCIP or equivalent)
  • LEED AP ND registration an asset

Key Skills

  • Passion for building community and urban livability
  • Career focus on urban design, architecture, sustainability, transportation planning and economic development
  • Experience with planning legislation, drafting municipal codes, design guidelines, development agreements, rezoning processes or ordinances
  • Strong urban design skills
  • Demonstrated public engagement, meeting facilitation, and consensus building skills
  • Positive and collaborative attitude, must be a team player
  • Experience with project management and client relations
  • Excellent written, visual, and verbal communication skills
  • Working knowledge of GIS; familiarity and interest in emerging planning sector software such as tools for GHG or VMT analysis
  • Experience with business development and marketing
  • Strong experience in SketchUp, Autocad and Revit
  • Strong experience with Adobe Creative Suite
  • Strong graphic communication skills

How to Apply

Please email resume in PDF with cover letter/email, and Intermediate Planner/Urban Designer in subject-line, attention:

Charlene Kovacs, …

 In 2013, VIA’s Matt Roewe, his wife, and his sketchbooks took a trip through Europe. These are some of his sketches (you may click an image to view it larger).

 

 

 

 

 

You may have seen them around town. You might even enjoy one daily as you grab your morning coffee, or take a walk through your very own urban village—  they’re called Parklets. These little dynamos of public space are changing the experience of the pedestrian environment throughout the city.

Parklets were first popularized by PARK(ing) Day, a nationwide annual celebration of guerilla urban design. On PARK(ing) day, street parking stalls are taken over in cities across the country— by artists, activists, designers, every day people wanting to take back their public spaces— and turned into temporary public parks. These little parks help mitigate the automobile-focused environment of urban areas, creating urban oases of seating, bicycle parking, and human-scale space.

Recognizing the success of PARK(ing) Day and the community value of these spaces, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) as part of its Public Space Management program, began the Pilot Parklet Program. The proposed program takes a cue from cities with successful parklet programs such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Montreal.  Last year, SDOT began a call for applications to begin placing these parklets permanently around Seattle— parks to be designed and built as usable public spaces that are privately funded and maintained.

VIA Seattle’s James Underwood and Katie Idziorek, on behalf of VIA’s Community Design Studio, worked with The Uptown Alliance, a civic organization representing the Uptown neighborhood and urban center, to submit proposals for two different sites in the Uptown neighborhood. Of those two sites, …