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We are t-minus four months away from Design in Public’s annual Seattle Design Festival 2019! VIA staff are already heads down on a new exhibit to bring to this year’s Block Party (August 24-25), which has moved from Pioneer Square and will now be taking place in South Lake Union at Lake Union Park. The theme this year, Balance, is generating some fantastic concepts we can’t wait to share with you.

Below is a look back at some of VIA’s most recent exhibits. Stay tuned for more updates in the months to come and we’ll see you in August!

Check out more photos from the Design Festival at DiP’s Flickr feed here.

We are currently seeking candidates for our urban design and planning internship program in our Seattle office. We have one position available for summer 2019 (June – September). This individual will supplement and work within our multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive urban design, landscape architecture, and/or planning services for various projects. We are interested in exceptional candidates with strong analytical, communication and technical skills who are passionate and involved in community building and transit-related work at all scales. Applicants with either a planning background with an urban design specialization/focus, or combined architecture, landscape architecture, and/or planning background will be considered. Prior office experience is not required.

Experience Requirements

  • 0 – 3 years of previous related work experience
  • Proficiency in Adobe CC, CAD & SketchUp highly desired.
  • Fluency with digital model rendering, GIS, and hand sketching a plus
  • Skilled in the preparation of graphic presentation material

Key Skills

  • Dedicated team player, excellent communicator, a self-starter possessing analytic and problem solving capabilities
  • Creative thinker with confidence to contribute new ideas and research to the firm
  • Interest in developing new skills and diving deeper into the profession


How to Apply

Please email your resume in PDF before April 22, 2019 with cover letter/email, and “YourName_Intern Program” in subject‐line, attention Jenny Burdzinski, jburdzinski@via‐

  • Please note which position interests you (summer 2019 urban design & planning internship)
  • 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 to be considered for these positions.
  • Only candidates considered for an interview will be contacted.
  • Compensation is commensurate with qualifications and experience.

VIA is an equal-opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, disability, gender, sexual-orientation or gender-identity.

We are currently seeking candidates for our architecture internship program in our Seattle office. There are two positions available: one for summer 2019 (June – September) and one for winter 2019-2020 (October 2019 – June 2020). These individuals will supplement and work within our multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive architectural and/or planning services for various projects. We are interested in exceptional candidates with strong analytical, communication and technical skills who are passionate and involved in community building at all scales. Applicants with either an architectural,  or combined architectural and planning background will be considered. Prior office experience is not required.

Experience Requirements

  • Junior Intern with 0 – 3 years of experience
  • Proficiency in Adobe, Rhino & Sketchup highly desired.
  • Fluency with digital model rendering, Revit, Autocad and other graphic programs a plus
  • Be skilled in the preparation of graphic presentation material

Key Skills

  • Dedicated team player, excellent communicator, a self-starter possessing analytic and problem solving capabilities
  • Creative thinker with confidence to contribute new ideas and research to the firm
  • Interest in developing new skills and diving deeper into the profession


How to Apply

Please email your resume in PDF before April 22, 2019 with cover letter/email, and “YourName_Intern Program” in subject‐line, attention Jenny Burdzinski, jburdzinski@via‐

  • Please note which position interests you (summer 2018 or winter 2018-2019)
  • 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 to be considered for these positions.
  • Only candidates considered for an interview will be contacted.
  • Compensation is commensurate with qualifications and experience.

VIA is an equal-opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, disability, gender, sexual-orientation or gender-identity.


VIA provides a breakdown review of the BART Market Street Canopies project. VIA’s team worked closely with BART staff to create the designs for two prototype entrance canopies, one for Powell Station and one entrance to Civic Center station.

New canopy as seen at BART Powell Street entrance.

Over the next five years, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in collaboration with the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (MUNI), will be installing new canopies at the BART/ MUNI subway entrances along Market Street in San Francisco. The BART entrances today are non-descript, unprotected portals with little indication for riders to know they are even there. New codes require BART to protect the escalators from the weather, which presents new placemaking and wayfinding opportunities while increasing the reliability of the station infrastructure and  improving user experience along the most important multi-modal corridor in San Francisco.

Market Street cuts a diagonal between colliding neighborhood grids beginning at The Embarcadero, located on the waterfront of San Francisco Bay, and extending through historic financial, shopping, civic, and cultural districts. The twenty four BART and MUNI entrances serving the four major stations on Market Street are a hub of activity day and night. Each of the stations reflect the confluence of the unique cultural  identities that permeate the street.

The City of San Francisco is simultaneously implementing a project called Better Market Street; a transformative urban design project reinvigorating the streetscape to anchor neighborhoods, link public open spaces and connect the City’s Civic Center with cultural, social, convention, retail and tourism destinations along 2.2 miles of Market Street. BART and MUNI are embracing their role in the project, designing the canopies to reflect the unique character of San Francisco’s most iconic thoroughfare.


Design Challenge: Balancing functionality and place making

The canopies need to provide protection from the elements, secure the stations at night when the trains aren’t operating, and not obstruct visibility at street level for safety as well as retaining visual access to the businesses along Market Street. With the introduction of twenty-four new large structures, the architecture had to be beautiful, unique, while not being imposing or in conflict with the other elements of creating a Better Market Street.

Maximizing transparency of the vertical elements (glass wall and minimized load bearing columns) presented a design solution that provides the greatest visibility and not obstructing the adjacent businesses. The ceiling soffit is separated from the walls invoking a floating effect creating a lightness of structure. The edges of the canopy lift upwards, creating a welcoming transition for transit users both entering and exiting the transit station. The uplighting of the curved ceiling creates a soft glow of reflected light that both identifies the entrances for pedestrians and provides illumination for security purposes. The sandy white texture of the ceiling eliminates glare and harsh reflections from the subtle bank of lights running along the top of the glass walls. This even and ample lighting make for a safe and welcoming space.

Canopy at the Civic Center entrance.

Integration of new formal elements into existing place

The new structures need to contribute to Better Market Street’s unified identity while celebrating the unique character of the different districts the stations occupy. To do this, the canopies employ elements of continuity and elements of distinction. Architectural and material elements remain consistent while distinctive elements of civic art, reflecting each station’s neighborhood context, is  integrated into the canopy ceilings.

The art program was a collaborative effort engaging the many business and neighborhood stakeholders along with city leaders. Representatives of the local art community, including SF MOMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, were brought in at early phases to help select the format and establish guidelines for art integration. The designs will be unique to each station while the material and methods used to render those designs serves as an element of continuity between the stations.


Kit of parts:

  • A floating, horizontal canopy – a simple and robust structure containing a roller shutter that completes the security enclosure at night. The curved, cloud-like shape of the canopy becomes a recognizable systematic element for transit and for Market Street. Its underbelly has been sculpted so it is easily seen while approaching it along market street or coming up from the station. Its horizontal orientation means it does not block facades of adjacent buildings.
  • Incorporation of art – the canopy ceiling becomes an element of distinction at each entrance – reflecting the cultural context with civic artwork produced by local and international artists. It is shaped to draw interest down into the transit levels below grade, to accommodate structure, and to provide modulation of lighting from daylight to underground.
  • The roof surface becomes responsive to the environment – an opportunity for a future green roofs providing local Tiger Butterfly habitat, drainage, and shade.
  • The “working wall” is comprised of 10’ glass walls which protect the entrance from weather, traffic, and intruders.
  • The “station identification column” acts as a structural wall with wayfinding information, integrating electrical and drainage elements, and an automated roller shutter for securing station access at night.
  • The “system information column” includes station information, a local area map, and dynamic signage.

Sustainability measures:

  • Long-lasting and low-maintenance materials were chosen for the design. Stainless steel, coated, laminated glass, and fiberglass reinforced polymer ceiling panels –less common, but extremely resilient to weather and damage.
  • LED lighting reduces the energy consumption of the canopy while maintaining an inviting atmosphere
  • Use of fabricators local to the Bay Area minimized transit of assembled materials, reducing the embodied energy of the canopies.

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 procurement. As the construction industry and procurement of construction services have evolved, owners often choose to engage construction managers or similar consultants to provide specialized pre-construction services, such as cost estimating, scheduling, and constructability review. AIA Contract Documents have also been developed to address this shift in responsibility. In addition to B101, AIA offers several other owner-architect agreements. Commonly used owner-architect agreements for commercial projects and their distinguishing features include… click here to continue reading on AIA’s website.

This article was first published on AIA’s website. Wolf Saar, FAIA, is managing director at VIA Architecture and a member of AIA National’s Contract Documents Committee. All images credit: AIA.

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 arts & culture presence in the neighborhood. Katie then walked the group over to the Cora Apartments, where we were given a building tour of different residential and amenity spaces – including a landscaped rooftop terrace with views toward Elliott Bay!

In the afternoon, the group put on their transit hats and traveled to two destinations along the LINK light rail line. Bethany Madsen first led the group on a tour of Angle Lake Station, located at the southern terminus of the current light rail line. She highlighted sustainable aspects of the station design that contributed to the project’s LEED gold certification, including rainwater harvesting and material selection. Bethany also shared how the station architecture, such as the wave-form canopy design elevated over the roadway, contributed to the station’s signature presence for arriving passengers. We concluded the afternoon with a tour led by Charles Romero of CityLine II, one of VIA’s transit-oriented multifamily projects located minutes away from the Columbia City Station. Compared to the more “urban center”-scaled buildings in South Lake Union and Uptown, Charles Romero highlighted the project’s ability to engage pedestrians at a residential neighborhood scale, from high-quality landscaping to pedestrian passages throughout the site.

The walking tour was an excellent way for staff across both offices to get a deeper dive into what make VIA a leader in sustainable, livable communities in the Seattle area. As new projects break ground and are constructed over the next few years, we look forward to what a future Seattle walking tour potentially has in store.

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 great work with a financial donation, please visit:

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 a pleasure to interact with and bounce ideas off my peers.

And so, it’s unsurprising that when he’s not wrapped up with project accounting, Karim manages the VIA Ducks, VIA’s co-ed soccer team. He uses soccer as an opportunity to foster relationships with his VIA colleagues. “I only started playing soccer when I moved to Seattle, but I figured, ‘Hey, why not start a group setting where we can meet outside the office?’” He sees many similarities between organizing the VIA Ducks and project accounting: “with project deadlines and other commitments [that VIA staff have], consistently fielding 11 players every Monday can be a challenge. But it’s also about resource matching, as well as making sure everybody gets enough playing time.”

Karim and the VIA DUCKS


Karim’s favorite books, which skew towards autobiographies like Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and comedian Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, remind him that even the world’s most iconic changemakers aren’t successful overnight: “to make improvements to your life, you need to be patient. I say this because I like to see things transpire quickly.”

When you have been in the workforce as long as I have, you become a bit jaded as many organizations talk about how much they value their employees but in reality, very few actually practice it. In my experience, VIA is a rare exception to this as they genuinely value their employees. This is demonstrated by the growth and development opportunities employees have here, the compensation philosophy of the company, the culture and the rest.”


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 trigger another 1950’s style, low-density development boom.

Alternatives to this vision exist. As cities experience urban renewal and higher demand  for the various benefits and conveniences of an urban lifestyle, costs increase as affordability decreases. This decrease presents many challenges, community displacement being prime among them. But as citizens leave expensive urban areas seeking more affordability, they carry with them the desire for walkable, urban lifestyles. Such demand may eventually lead to the development of denser, more connected, walkable hubs in suburban areas that provide more affordable housing options. If we redevelop our suburbs densely enough, the suburban population can be better linked to city center jobs and services with a combination of on-demand mobility services and central transit spines utilizing both public transit and TNCs (Transportation Networking Companies), like Uber, that have the potential to replace or drastically reduce reliance on single occupancy vehicles.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

On-demand ‘micro transit’ could act as a collector in less dense areas, funneling citizens to and from high capacity transit lines and supporting TOD nodes in suburban and exurban areas. However, on-demand mobility options also hamper the ability to leverage policy to increase density around planned transit nodes. When pick up/drop off areas are no longer limited to transit stops, land use planning is separated from transit planning.

On one hand, a land use/mobility planning separation presents challenges that can enable the dispersed, environmentally-detrimental development patterns we see today. On the other, the low-infrastructure demand of on-demand micro transit does establish this type of transit as a relatively low-cost strategy for increasing mobility options in existing low-density residential areas, thereby allowing reduced automobile dependence in suburban communities (See Bainbridge Island Ride description below). If AVs were used for on-demand micro-transit fleets, operation costs could be even further reduced.

As road capacity increases and roads are subsequently jammed with additional vehicles, AVs will likely promote the transition of park and rides into “kiss and rides”. An AV will drop off passengers at local transit stations and immediately depart to pick up the next passenger, either in a nearby neighborhood or arriving via mass transit to the kiss and ride stop (providing “last mile” transport for arrivals). The “kiss and ride” model requires a sizable increase in drop off/pick up area, but eliminates the need for parking and allows for a drastic overall reduction in land area required compared to a traditional park and ride, freeing up underutilized land for housing, retail, office, etc.

Mass Transit

The impact of AVs on mass transit use will vary by location and will be influenced by factors such as city size and development patterns. Though general consensus predicts a 10-40% reduction in mass transit use, many strategies exist to both mitigate AV’s effect on transit ridership and facilitate increased public transit use. The basic conflict between the two primary groups that will offer AVs in the future – public transit and TNCs – is that public transit provides a mobility service for the common good, while TNCs sell miles on the “market”. The market offers no equitable incentive without regulatory mandates, thus placing the burden for providing equitable mobility solely on public transit, unless policymakers put plans in place to level out the playing field with incentives and regulation.

In the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ fall 2017 edition of Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism, the group offers the following vision for public mobility services:

Mass transit should serve as the backbone of the transportation network, while autonomous vehicles, biking and walking complement the core parts of the network and provide service where mass transit is not as efficient. Public agencies and private companies could work in tandem to actively manage the network, with volume, mode and speed thresholds controlled through real-time pricing and curbside demand management.

A few real-world examples show what we are likely to experience increasingly as AVs become more prevalent:

  1. Integration of AVs into transit fleets. A great example of the efficiency of automation is Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain system. Fully automated and driverless, SkyTrain allows adjustments to train frequency to go as low as two minutes during peak periods. Such efficiency may be much harder to achieve with non-automated systems.
  2. Unions, fearing job loss, may lobby against AV integration in mass transit. But AVs don’t necessarily mean fewer jobs, rather different jobs that will require retraining. For instance, truck drivers would not be required to take freight across country as automation could manage long stretches of freeway, but the beginning and end of trips that require navigation through complicated and highly trafficked city streets and industrial areas would still require human navigation for quite some time.
  3. Microtransit adds smaller vehicles to the transit fleet and provides on-demand services. Bainbridge Island provides the BI Bus that runs on a set route, but will accommodate pick-ups anywhere on the island when a request is made two hours ahead of time. While the two hour notice is a start, the request window will need to shrink drastically to increase ridership.

In summary, AVs are expected to broaden development and planning options as mobility choices and efficiency rise. However, achieving the desired levels of mobility efficiency will require holistic and forward-thinking planning approaches that guide AV adoption and utility. If AV technology is not adequately leveraged for public service, and if its utilization is largely driven by the private sector, we risk increasing suburban sprawl and undermining development and planning efforts that aim to make communities more accessible and human-scaled. Part 3 will conclude this think-piece series by exploring high-level policy options/implications of the inevitable AV disruption.