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2018 Archive

The City of Seattle has pledged to spend more than $75 million dollars on affordable housing projects throughout 2019. The plan, unveiled at a recent news conference with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, endeavors to help nonprofits build around 1,200 new affordable apartments while preserving another 200 low-rent homes.

The press-event was held at Northaven, an affordable seniors community in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle. Northaven had previously engaged VIA to develop a community plan for their growing tenant population – and we are excited to report that they are one of the recipients of this new round of funding.

VIA’s work with Northaven will build upon several previously-provided feasibility studies, with neighboring stakeholders, that examined the existing sites with options to integrate new development of various sizes and configurations, including the incorporation of an existing auto body shop. These exercises assisted Northaven in determining what they wanted and what they were able to build. The project was envisioned as a rich mixture of housing and amenities acting as a sort of ‘senior hub’ in the Northgate area.

Congratulations to Northaven and all the newly-funded affordable housing projects in our City!


By Wolf Saar, FAIA, Managing Director VIA Architecture.

In addition to the “flagship” contract known as B101, AIA offers several other owner-architect agreements that are critical to any commercial design project.

Choosing the right owner-architect agreement is critical to any commercial design project. This is because the agreement establishes a foundation for the contractual relationship between the owner and architect and communicates the expected design and other services that the architect will provide. Architects and owners can choose from several AIA owner-architect agreements, which suit various project delivery methods, sizes, and complexities. AIA agreements provide a time-proven and court-tested framework to discuss and negotiate key terms, including the architect’s scope of services and compensation. They are widely accepted and used in the construction industry, signifying a consensus of individuals and groups who represent the interests of architects, owners, and contractors.

The AIA Documents Committee develops AIA Contract Documents through a rigorous process that includes input from contractor organizations, owner groups, architects, legal and insurance counsel, and others involved in the construction process. AIA Contract Documents are periodically updated to reflect changes in the design and construction industry, as well as the law. As courts have tested the agreements over time, users may rely confidently on the meaning and interpretation of the contract terms. These agreements provide a solid framework for relationships among the owner, architect, contractor, and other project participants.

The “flagship” Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect is the B101, which assumes traditional design-bid-build construction …

VIA staff tour various VIA projects in Seattle. Words by VIA’s Justin Panganiban


VIA staff from our Seattle and Vancouver offices participated in a walking tour of Seattle, highlighting several neighborhoods and projects where VIA played a role in shaping livable, sustainable communities.

Matt Roewe led a morning tour of South Lake Union, a neighborhood that has undergone a major transformation over the last decade as Seattle’s emerging tech/research hub. Matt shared his insight into the combination of public and private investment, land use and zoning policy, and mobility infrastructure that is responsible for the neighborhood’s urban form – from the preserved historic brick facades to the midblock alleyways. The tour culminated at one of VIA’s multifamily projects, Fox & Finch, which exemplifies a design that responds appropriately to changing neighborhood context. A seven-story, 49-unit building nestled next to several office buildings, Fox & Finch utilizes high quality building materials, integrates ground-floor retail space to activate the street, and provides residents with proximity to live, work, and play opportunities.

The group then headed to Uptown, a neighborhood also poised for significant transformation through the renovation of KeyArena and a future light rail station. Here, Katie Idziorek showcased how VIA contributed to community-building at different scales. The group first walked to Uptown Parklet, a small public park next to the SIFF Cinema. As one of Seattle’s first parklets, this Community Design Studio (CDS) project was a result of a collaborative process between community members to create a space whose design reflects the …

Ribbon cutting at Kent Community Garden (Image: Forterra/Alissabeth Newton)

VIA’s Community Design Studio staff were recently on hand for the ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for Forterra’s new community garden at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Kent WA. This project represents a collaboration between three non-profits — Forterra, the International Rescue Committee, and Global to Local —  in supporting refugees and recent immigrants to the South King County area. By developing both garden plots and gathering space, the project directly supports community health by providing access to fresh food and strengthening social connections. It also allows gardeners to grow fruits and vegetables from their countries of origin, supporting traditional diets and sharing connections to cultural roots through food.

During the design process, VIA created graphics and models to support two community outreach events, so that future gardeners could provide input on preferred sites and layouts. Once the site at St. Columba’s was finalized, VIA developed site plans that were used to lay out the individual plots. With the generous individual plot sizes, families will be able to grow a considerable amount of their annual produce needs in this beautiful new garden space.

VIA’s Community Design Studio is proud to have supported this and other projects that encourage local, collaborative food production.

For more information about the project, please visit Forterra’s recent post:

If you are interested in getting involved in the garden as a volunteer, please contact the International Rescue Committee at If you are interested in supporting Forterra’s …

The first of a series of VIA staff spotlights, Karim Dilawar is VIA Seattle’s Project Accountant.

“It’s not common to work for an organization where you actually look forward to coming back from vacation so you can share your experiences with your colleagues but at VIA, I feel just that.”


Born in Pakistan and now living in the US by way of Burnaby BC, Karim Dilawar is VIA’s project accountant and team manager of the VIA Ducks.

Always intrigued by the intricacies of business operations, Karim chose a career in project accounting “because you see the inside-out of a project, and project by project, you can see how the company is performing. I learn how a project can be successful–or not. Working closely with project managers, I can help identify any deficiencies and improvements.”

Karim offers similar advice to any finance professional looking for hands-on business experience. “Project accounting is a good field to apply all the accounting knowledge you learned in school.”

Already a year into his role at VIA, Karim maintains his enthusiasm for the work and the people he works with:

I truly enjoy coming to work every day. It is so refreshing to work for an organization where I am empowered to make decisions and provided opportunities to learn and grow. I am exposed to challenging and exciting tasks and projects that keep me motivated and engaged. Also, I love the people that I work with. VIA employs some of the brightest minds in the industry and it is …

Part two of three, written by Dylan Glosecki on how automated vehicles (AVs) will likely shape our communities. Part 1 of this think piece explored the anticipated disruption to conventional automobile use. In Part 2, Dylan explores the development and planning implications of such a disruption.

The following is a summary of talking points collected at the Urbanism Next Conference in Portland, OR on March 6, 2018 and in subsequent conversations with my colleagues at VIA. While an autonomous vehicle future appears imminent, I humbly acknowledge the unpredictable alternate paths our future could take.

Suburban sprawl in Las Vegas, NV (photo courtesy USDA NRCS)

There are numerous hypothetical pros and cons of autonomous vehicles (AVs). As an avid urbanist and proponent for connected communities, it’s exciting to explore the potential impacts of AVs on city planning and public transit. What does an AV future mean for our cities, our communities, and the way we navigate to, from and through them?

Increased Sprawl

If AVs act as mobile offices, the long commute is no longer a hindrance. If one can spend  two, three, four hours a day working remotely while they commute to their office, meetings and appointments, living far away from these destinations is less of an inconvenience. This ability could provide much needed housing cost relief in our urban centers, as housing further away from urban centers is developed and becomes more desirable as commutes become more productive. On the other hand, facilitating longer distance commutes will encourage sprawl, and may …

VIA Architecture is a multi-disciplinary firm of urban strategists creating connected communities. With offices in Vancouver, Seattle and Oakland, we are a highly interactive studio-based practice concentrating in urban planning, transit systems planning and design architecture for urban mixed-use development. Our systems-level design strategies and community-based design studio set us apart from traditional architectural practice.

We are currently seeking candidates for architectural Grad/Intern positions for our Vancouver office. These individuals will supplement and work within our multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive architectural services for various projects. We are interested in exceptional candidates with string analytical, communication and technical skills who are passionate and involved in community building at all scales.

Experience Requirements – Architectural Interns

  • Junior Intern with 2 to 5 years of Canadian architectural experience
  • LEED AP preferred but not mandatory

Key Skills

  • Dedicated team player, excellent communicator, a self-starter possessing analytic and problem solving capabilities.
  • Some experience with all project phases of design, construction documents and field services.
  • Some understanding of the technical considerations involved in design, documenting, coordinating and executing a variety of building types.
  • Proficiency in REVIT, AutoCAD & Sketchup highly desired. Fluency with digital model rendering, Adobe and other graphic progams a plus.
  • Be skilled in the preparation of graphic presentation material.
  • Some familiarity of BCBC and local Bylaws.
  • Interest in professional advancement to more intermediate levels and responsibilities.

How to Apply

Please email resume in PDF with cover letter/email, and “YourName_Architectural Grad/Intern” in subject-line, attention Charlene Kovacs,

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

This is the first of a three-part think piece by VIA’s Dylan Glosecki about the potential reshaping of our communities by automated vehicles, today and in the future. Part One discusses the most immediate effects we are likely to experience: the disruption of conventional vehicle use and the decreasing need for parking.

Peckham Levels, a converted multi-storey parking garage in London (courtesy: Tim Crocker)

According to various sources including Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Tesla, Uber, Google, and the National Association of City Transportation officials, the initial roll-out of automated vehicles (AV) is predicted to begin by 2025, and start cementing public acceptance as our future reality by 2030. AV is expected to largely replace non-autonomous vehicles by 2040-2045.

AV is touted as a silver bullet to many of the common (and many unseen/unobserved) issues associated with car ownership and driving. AV is anticipated to reduce car ownership, spur the mass adoption of electric vehicles, reduce urban parking demand by up to 90%, increase road capacity by up to three times, greatly improve access to mobility for the young and the elderly, allow for “working commutes”, reduce accidents and so on.

While an AV future could bring about many positive changes from urbanism and sustainability perspectives, there is another side to the coin. Negative changes are also predicted, such as increased sprawl due to “working commutes”, road capacity increases leading to more traffic, diminished use of mass transit, the end of TOD planning, increased total vehicle miles with AV delivery services, etc. …

Two VIA projects were honored at the American Council of Consulting Engineers (ACEC) Washington awards early in 2018.  Tacoma Amtrak Cascades Station and South 200th Link Extension (Angle Lake Station) both took home Silver awards in the Complexity and Transportation categories, respectively. These awards are presented annually to teams demonstrating engineering excellence in a variety of categories.

The recently-opened Tacoma Amtrak Cascades Station relocated the existing Amtrak station in Tacoma to the Freighthouse Square Building, melding a new 9,875-square-foot station into a portion of the historic landmark built in 1909. The project team navigated a complex array of challenges to deliver this project under a demanding schedule. The teams’ work reconciled and balanced the requirements of the large multi-agency stakeholder group, seamlessly merging the new station systems into a century’s worth of existing infrastructure and systems, and worked within extremely confined physical space without interrupting busy daily rail operations.

The South 200th Link Extension project consists of a 1.6 mile extension to the light rail guideway, to the south of Sea-Tac Airport, and is anchored by Angle Lake Station as an interim terminus. VIA was the architectural lead on the design-build team comprised of partners PCL as lead contractor and HDR as lead engineering consultant. VIA’s role was to analyze the prescriptive elements of the station design, finding efficiencies, streamlining circulation, and providing a design concept that represented best value in the bid process.

For the subsequent design phase, VIA incorporated an ambitious sustainability program, including a rooftop photovoltaic …

Residents hang out in a ‘parklet’ created over street parking, on Main Street/21st Avenue, Vancouver BC. Image: City of Vancouver

Should the public sector continue to invest in parking?

That’s the fundamental question that VIA Senior Architect Dylan Glosecki will be discussing as part of “The Parking Revolution: build it and they won’t come” panel at 2018’s Urbanism Next Conference in Portland, Oregon, 5-7 March 2018.

The Parking Revolution will examine how the future – with shared mobility, technology and pricing—will change how we think about building more parking. See more about the 2018 Urbanism Next Conference on their website.

From automated vehicles to new forms of e-commerce, emerging technologies continue to shape and reshape urban environments. The Urbanism Next Conference will join private and public sector experts to share their knowledge on the impacts of technology on cities, over three session-packed days.

VIA Architecture is a proud supporter of Urbanism Next 2018.

Urbanism Next: The Parking Revolution: Tue 6th March, 1:30pm – 4:30pm (Venue TBA)

Full list of panelists:

Matt Shelden, AICP, Director, Planning & Innovation Planning, Environment & Project Development Department, Sound Transit Jemae Hoffman, ENV SP, EastLink Light Rail Development Manager (2018) Director for Sustainable Cities (through Dec 2017) and formerly from VIA Architecture (2017) Sound Transit (2018) Mark Hallenbeck, Director of the Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC), University of Washington Dylan Glosecki, Co Chair AIA Seattle, Urban Design Forum, Senior Architect, VIA Architecture and Planning Frank Ching, MBA, CPP, Board of Director & Executive Officer– National Parking Association Deputy Executive Officer of Countywide Planning Parking Management & …