Today was the grand opening for Joseph Arnold Lofts, affectionately called The Joe, or JOLO. Located just a few blocks from the waterfront and the Olympic Sculpture Park, Joseph Arnold Lofts is a 13-story multi-family apartment building with great views and even better amenities. Residential units are designed to feel like lofts, with wide open floor plans and bedroom walls that don’t quite reach the ceiling.
With 132 apartment units, JOLO is the first Green Globe certified residential high-rise in downtown Seattle – recently receiving three out of four green globes for sustainable design elements. Some of the other interesting features of the building and our work on it include:
Please enjoy this brief photo tour of The Joe:
Images courtesy of Turner Construction and VIA
This year, both our VIA Seattle and Vancouver offices celebrated PARK(ing) Day – an annual worldwide event that that focuses on elevating the use of urban public space by transforming metered parking spaces into public parklets.
The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space and to generate critical debate about the nature and role of streets in the public realm. In addition to being a fun community event, PARK(ing) Day challenges existing ideas about the use of public urban space and empowers community groups and other participants to help redefine space to reflect local needs and values.
For us at VIA, PARK(ing) Day is a great excuse to add to this dialogue and to work toward our goal of creating quality urban spaces. For this year’s event, the VIA team volunteered time to design and set up two parklets in front of our Seattle and Vancouver offices in order to create great (albeit temporary) urban spaces and to cultivate a fun and memorable urban experience for participants and passers-by. Both parklets were focused on the idea of play and included space for social interaction, refuge and respite. We worked to partner with local businesses and used almost exclusively recycled or reclaimed materials in our parklet designs.
VIA Seattle Parklet (7th Ave & Olive Way)
The Seattle parklet, a small court for lawn games, was focused on creating a space for play. Located adjacent to our neighbors on street level, Café Senso Unico, the Italian sport of bocce ball was a natural fit. Using pallets donated from local businesses, we built a low fence to demarcate the temporary space. Astroturf, already destined for the landfill, was given a brief stay of execution and provided our playfield. Small “plaza” spaces were created using pavers donated by Mutual Materials, which provided a setting for café tables and chairs on loan from Café Senso and allowed the coffee shop to expand their lounging space onto the street. The parklet served as the setting for an informal inter-VIA bocce tournament as well as a site for informal meetings, sipping coffee and even an impromptu picnic. Passers-by were invited to participate in the games and to spend time lounging in the outdoor café space.
VIA Vancouver Parklet (1050 Homer Street)
The design of the Vancouver parklet also explored the concept of “playing in the street”. We chose to enhance the street by extending the zone of pedestrian activity beyond the curb, highlighting the multimodal nature of streets and their potential for connecting communities. We invited ZipCar to display one of their car-share Mini Coopers in our installation and to publicize the results of a recent study finding that “each carshare vehicle removes 9-13 vehicles from the road.” Shipping pallets served as curb-level flooring and defined the edges of the park. Movable furniture allowed for flexibility in the space and temporarily donated potted plants provided a touch of nature. The design included a canopy of umbrellas, inspired by street cover in Barcelona and translated to fit our Northwest climate.
Both parklets were successful in transforming our adjacent streetscapes into enjoyable public spaces and facilitating a fun afternoon of playing in the street. VIA looks forward to PARK(ing) Day 2014!
 Martin E., Shahee S., Lidicker J. University of California Berkeley 2010. “Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Holdings” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Volume 2143/2010.
Join VIA this Friday, September 20th as both of our offices celebrate PARK(ing) Day 2013.
Vancouver Location – 1050 Homer Street
Join VIA Vancouver from 10am – 4pm for games, yoga, and a BBQ.
Seattle Location – corner of 7th Avenue and Olive Way
Join VIA Seattle from 10am – 2pm for a rousing round of bocce.
For a complete map of all Park(ing) Day sites within Seattle, please see:
Providing temporary public open space . . . one parking spot at at time.
PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists, and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.
The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!
For more information on PARK(ing) Day, please visit www.parkingday.org
Happy post-Memorial Day Tuesday! Below are just a few of the most interesting and re-Tweeted articles VIA has shared on their Twitter feed over the past couple weeks. Enjoy!
Vancouver’s False Creek Bridges to get some TLC… and better bike lanes (MetroNews.CA)
Transit expansion may be caught up in politics, but Vancouver’s plans to get people out of cars and onto bikes and sidewalks are rolling on the three False Creek bridges.
Goodbye, Micro-Apartments: ‘Low Rise High Density’ Presents An Alternative Housing Solution (Architizer)
According to the most recent US Census data, this is the first time since before the 1950s that more people are moving into New York City than are moving out—bringing the estimated population to a record high of 8,336,697. Now that is high density. So it is only fitting that we should start directing our focus toward different housing models that accommodate the city’s changing need for space.
Stunning Vertical Horizon Photos (One Design Per Day)
The series of French artist Romain Jacquet-Lagreze “vertical horizon” is a photographic journey between buildings of a growing city- Hong Kong.
The Systems That Power the Year’s Most Sustainable Buildings (Gizmodo)
Only a decade ago, sustainable building techniques were fairly rare, a fringe culture on the periphery of mainstream architecture. But with Stephen Colbert interviewing radically green architects like Mitchell Joachim and Passive House buildings popping up in New York City, that’s all changing very quickly.
The Woolworth Building Turns 100 (Architectural Record)
Cass Gilbert’s Gothic masterpiece, once the tallest building in the world, celebrates its centennial year.
In 1897, a Bicycle Superhighway Was the Future of California Transit (Motherboard)
In 1897, a wealthy American businessman named Horace Dobbins began construction on a private, for-profit bicycle superhighway that would stretch from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. It may seem like a preposterous notion now, but at the time, amidst the height of a pre-automobile worldwide cycling boom, the idea attracted the attention of some hugely powerful players. And it almost got built.
Sunset Magazine to Develop First-Ever Sustainable Idea Town in Seabrook, Washington (Inhabitat)
Each year, Sunset Magazine builds an “Idea House” to showcase new trends, technologies and materials in residential architecture. This year, they’re doing something a bit different — they’re sponsoring a whole town! Currently under construction, the 2013 Sunset Idea Town is located in the seaside town of Seabrook, Washington.
Reclaimed Materials Light Show (2modern Blog)
It’s hard not to be awed and sobered by a work of beauty created from discarded materials—it’s both a reminder of our wastefulness and our failure to assess value accurately. And it’s impossible not to be wowed by the recent installations of New York artist Tom Fruin.
The Bike-Sharing Takeover (ArchDaily)
Bike sharing has become a staple for urban commuting in city’s all over the world. Since its reintroduction into urban culture in the 1990s, it has taken on many forms. Today it is being optimized to serve dense cities to help alleviate traffic congestion, provide people with more transportation options, and to encourage a healthy way of commuting.
What’s the Most Important Building In America? (Gizmodo)
In a special called Ten Buildings that Changed America that aired on PBS this week, critics and historians schooled us on ten of the most significant structures in the country. Did they miss anything?
In Celebration of Earth Day, the new Bullitt Center opened in Seattle on Monday, April 22. The new Center will be the greenest commercial building in the world; striving to meet the Living Building Challenge.
We think one of the most interesting things is the relationship the building will have with its tenants. They will retain ownership of the building; and anticipate encouraging tenants to walk up the stairs instead of using the elevator, among other green suggestions. Our favorite part is there is no parking– only bike parking. Public transit, walking, and biking are the most convenient ways to get directly to the Center. If you have to drive; they have arranged limited shared parking with a nearby temple.
You can read more about the Center by visiting the links above; The Seattle Times Blog has also shared a post with some great photos of the offices and the composting toilet system.
VIA is currently participating in the 8th annual HEADLINES exhibit at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. The exhibit displays a preview of unbuilt work, both local and international, providing an overview of the design influence and innovation that northwest practitioners contribute to the region and across the globe.
The HEADLINES exhibit, which represents the work of more than 50 local design firms, highlights projects that are currently “on the boards.” By focusing on projects that are still in design, the exhibit facilitates a dialogue between the region’s professional and academic communities about design concepts and ideas, and it allows the public a glimpse of how the studio process shapes the early stages of a project. Each entry features a “headline,” a word or phrase that describes the project’s principal design concept, and is limited to one display board on which to communicate the essence and primary features of the project.
After spending two weeks on display at the University of Washington, the exhibit will travel to other schools of architecture throughout the Northwest. Past exhibits have been displayed at the Architectural Institute of British Columbia in Vancouver; Washington State University; Montana State University; Portland State University; and the University of Oregon.
The annual HEADLINES exhibit is organized by the Department of Architecture Professionals Advisory Council (PAC). The PAC is made up of local architects and other design professionals as well as members of the UW Department of Architecture. The group bridges the professional and academic realms of design practice in order create and facilitate a dialogue that includes both an awareness of marketplace realities and trends of the professional world as well as the issues and concerns faced by educational institutions. VIA has been an active member of the PAC for the past four years and is a regular contributor to and supporter of the HEADLINES exhibit.
HEADLINES 2013: Architecture Looking Ahead will be on exhibit through April 25, 2012 at Gould Court in the main exhibit hall at the University of Washington College of Built Environments.
Community leaders held a press conference on March 26th at Rainier Beach High school, announcing that they are banding together in an ambitious effort to renovate Rainier Beach High into the greenest high school in the State.
Southeast Seattle parents, community members, the Rainier Beach Foundation, and the Rainier Beach Empowerment Coalition have rallied support from the City of Seattle and Denis Hayes (Bullitt Foundation and Point32) for a consultation on retrofitting Rainier Beach High School as the first LEED Platinum Green school in the State. VIA has been supporting the Rainier Beach Community in implementing their vision for the light rail station area; laying the groundwork for an Innovation District.
Rainier Beach High School is one of the few schools that were not prioritized for renovation in the recent school levy funding package passed by voters. That fact upset some Rainier Beach high school students so much that they staged a walkout. The student organizers were inspirational in their hopes for a better future for their community, and a highlight of the press conference was their Principal giving these students a glowing introduction. Denis Hayes commented:
“This is the first time I have ever heard a Principal glowingly introduce students who organized a walkout”
Another great quote was from LaCretiah Claytor , with the Rainier Beach Empowerment Coalition and PSTA:
“As James Brown said ‘Don’t give us anything, open the door and we will get it ourselves’”
The high school, often known for its academic and social failures, is on the rise to becoming one of Seattle Public Schools’ most thriving institutions, and one of the most thriving in the State. Rainier Beach High School will soon be certified as an International Baccalaureate (IB) brand, while its CTE programs evolve with Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) which places Microsoft engineers in a team teaching role within classes in grades 9 to 12 to teach computer science in cooperation with an existing in-service teacher.
It’s still unknown what renovation cost will be, and there are no current funding commitments; however, spearheaders and supporters are committed to creating an innovative building that they believe would complement Rainier Beach’s innovative programs. The first fundraiser is scheduled for May 11 at 6pm at the ShoWare Center in Kent, where some of the nation’s best high-school basketball players are expected to participate in a West Coast All-Star Classic game. Current NBA players who graduated from Rainier Beach High are also are expected to participate.
Peter Jansen was VIA’s IT wizard for nearly twelve years, based out of our Vancouver office. Peter had been fighting with cancer for almost a year, and we are sad to announce that on Saturday morning he lost that battle. Peter will be sorely missed. He was a special person with a huge and generous spirit, always wanting to help others, and was infinitely patient with all of our questions and problems. VIA will not be the same without him.
Our Seattle office would not exist without Peter. His knowledge of networking allowed us to envision what a fully connected, cross-border practice would look like, which was no mean feat in the early days of networking. Everything we have available to do our work, from dual processors to up-to-date software to spam filtering to nightly synching between offices — all of this happens because of Peter’s efforts. His family joked that he bled VIA blue, and there was a truth to this — his loyalties were fierce, and we were so glad he was on our side.
Peter had a passion for many things. One of those passions was the music of Led Zeppelin. So the next time you hear a Led Zeppelin song hold a special thought for Peter.
Peter leaves behind his wife Tina and his 7 year old son Taran, and they have a tough road ahead without Peter. Please keep them in your hearts and thoughts, and be grateful for health and family.
In March, VIA Architecture’s Vancouver office was delighted to host a presentation by Dr. Wendy Sarkissian. Having just finished series of lectures with Harvard’s Graduate Design School, Wendy stopped into Vancouver on her way back to Australia, where she lives and bases her practice. She talked with our staff and guests about public engagement needed when engaging communities with density and about an underpinning need for love in planning and design processes. Using the city-building fields’ “psychological” roots to explore the social and emotional dimensions of housing, Wendy enquires on what is missing in higher density housing in North America and Australia and why NIMBYism persists.
Canadian-born Wendy Sarkissian has worked as a social planning consultant and academic in Australia since 1969. The author of eight books on community engagement, planning and housing, she is a Life Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia. Wendy has worked in a great variety of planning contexts, including inner city and suburban community renewal, high-rise housing evaluation and innovative community engagement programs. Her engagement and thinking about the social aspects of housing has roots in her teaching at UC Berkeley in the late 1970s, her forty years of professional practice and her co-authoring (with Clare Cooper Marcus) of a classic book on the social aspects of housing design: Housing as if People Mattered (University of California, 1986).
Nimby Density and Loving Attention in Planning:
Offering her Homing Instinct model, Wendy proposes that if we are to design community engagement processes to address delicate, sensitive psychological issues about our core territories of housing and home, we are going to have to start by showing a lot more love, care and emotional intelligence than we have in the past.
Sarkissian presented to the group that Not-In-My-Back-Yard sentiments often have legitimate underpinnings. Change is threatening, especially where design products are not identifiable or are disconnected to the lives and living of those that will be impacted by development. In many cases the unitary products of dense housing design are not identifiable as “housing” and especially not as “homes”. She suggests that there are 30 years of existing literature and work on the psychology and frameworks for humane housing design. When we ignore the impacts of inhumane design we risk creating palpable impacts, and can reasonably expect that communities will reject and even fight those impositions in their “Back Yards”.
Root Shock, the real grief experienced when a sense of place is lost due to neighbourhood restructuring or disaster, fears of potential futures. The NIMBY cases often react to such fears, and neighbourhood restructuring in North America and Australia has a history of massive impacts to communities and neighbourhoods. Wendy spoke of the West End of Boston where redevelopment ripped out the heart of immigrant communities and where she could feel echoes of loss and pain in now desolate places.
In public engagement processes, respect for the legitimacy of community fears must be balanced and addressed with anticipatory processes about finding products that can and could be. Sarkissian presents a necessity to go back to the power of the literature from around the time of that “summer of love” and respond to NIMBY concerns with models and processes rooted in “LOVE”, where:
L is for Listening, ensuring that ideas and concerns have a place to be heard and recorded;
O is for Openness, to provide inclusivity to realize the array of voices and acknowledge those who may be otherwise unheard;
V is for Validation, where respect for local views is also diligent in addressing the contexts of influence and power in decision making that can overwhelm or undermine the impact of engagement for individual and marginalized community members; and
E is for Education, where the process is about expanding on both sides community capacity, literacy, and understanding in terms of sustaining our living earth, with the understanding that our engagement and design activities with regard to density are being carried to enable a sustainable future.
There are many strategies to engaging communities with this “LOVE”, but Wendy warns of the crucial need for diligence in engagement.
A process must understand that people think, process, and produce differently. Wendy referred to Neural Linguistic Programming, wherein the way a world is understood creates and requires products that engage multiple senses. Some people will need multiple formats to deal with the same information, spatial maps, visual imagery, experiential story telling, social interaction, written word, among many need to be thought of and included to facilitate a clear projection of how people are engaged together in a place.
There is a need to be clear and complete on recording and analysis. “The Kookier the process the more anal retentive the analysis”, she told the group. Creativity, and whimsy is critical in engaging people in the process, but we must make sure that the concepts and valuable inputs are not lost in the pageantry of an event.
Navigating contexts of power in an engagement process demands understanding of what VIA principal Graham McGarva calls “pathways to getting to yes”. Wendy presents this carrying of knowledge as running a baton relay race. Unless you are actually in the race, start on time, are at the starting line, running in a lane, carrying a baton [local knowledge or information], are able to jump hurdles on an uneven track, keep the baton in your hand and pass it to someone who can cross the line and hand it to an “expert” [who will inevitably have a “blind spot”], your views have little or no chance of having “influence”.
I had the fortune, after her talk, to accompany Wendy to a City of Vancouver public open house for the Marpole Community Plan. A relatively empty school gymnasium greeted us, along with dozens of boards, so densely packed with text information that they presented a wall of information that inferred [despite the notations requesting comments] that the plan was finished and that comments were only superfluous. While it is noted that the Marpole plan amongst others has gone through a rigorous process, but that the City’s standard Open House engagement model falls short of providing a process where the community feels listened to and LOVE’d about a changing community.
We can do better. We hope to be part of better.
Thanks Wendy for showing us some ways to be better, more authentic, more loving, community facilitators for better cities.