Recent Posts


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.

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 experience qualifications to be considered for these positions.
  • Only candidates considered for an interview will be contacted.
  • Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Benefits include extended medical coverage and retirement funds contribution matching.

For more information about VIA Architecture, please visit our website:

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. With these points in mind, AV can be more accurately described as a disruptor rather than a silver bullet.

Like most new technological advances, we are rarely able to accurately predict their impacts on society. Whether or not  AV takes off as soon as anticipated, it is imperative that urban planners and policy makers prepare for the mobility revolution that AV should generate. We must shape our cities, regions and policies to guide the use of AV in a sustainable and safe manner to minimize, among other things, the developmental sprawl they could further increase.

Right-of-Way vs Community Asset

As AV is adopted, curbside parking may be replaced with loading zones for transportation networking companies (TNCs), micro transit carrying people and goods, or possibly as temporary locations for food trucks/mobile retail. However, as this space necessitates re-configuring the right-of-way (ROW), there are certain issues to take into account. The ROW is owned by the public and any commercial use of this land should require some type of public benefit and/or fee/permit.

The perception of how we should use the ROW differs between countries, which may heavily influence how AV is adopted in particular jurisdictions. For instance, Americans typically believe the individual has a right to use the ROW as they please, whereas Canadians often believe in public ownership of the ROW and are therefore more apt to regulate its use, which has slowed the spread of TNC adoption in Canada.

Reduced Automobile Use

While urban areas will likely experience a drastic reduction in individual car ownership, rural and less dense suburban areas will continue to experience comparatively high levels of individual car ownership. TNCs like Lyft and Uber are likely to be the primary means by which the public initially utilizes AV. These services conveniently provide mobility on demand to urban inhabitants. However, with greater distance between “pick-ups” resulting from less dense development patterns, rural and suburban users will not experience the same level of convenience. In less dense areas, 15, 20 and 30 minute wait times will deter TNC use, result in continued high levels of single occupancy vehicle (SOV) use and lead to high levels of individual ownership of AV (to the delight of automobile companies). On demand AV micro transit services could provide mobility alternatives to these less dense areas that would drastically reduce auto dependency.

Managing Reduced Parking Demand

Per a 2011 UC Berkeley parking study, the U.S. currently provides between 4-8 parking spaces for every vehicle in the country. Our cities are, in one way or another, shaped around parking and how we access the goods and services in them. Much of the space dedicated to parking sits unused most of the time. Should AV reduce car ownership as much as they are predicted to do, large swaths of developed, underutilized land will become available for more practical uses.

Surface parking is the most straightforward redevelopment candidate, though structured parking (parking garages or parkades) can be renovated into other uses as well. What use will structured parking, especially those with low ceiling heights and sloped floors, serve in 20 years? When new parking structures are built designers must keep in mind the need for flexibility and adaptability. These structures will need to be re-purposed!

Flat slabs with speed ramps or helical ramps along the perimeter provide the most flexibility for future use. Higher floor to floors provide vertical flexibility (10’+ for future housing, 12’+ for future commercial). In the future, parking ramps can be replaced with stairs and elevators to provide code-required egress for the adapted structure. Employing this strategy, transit agencies could, as a thought, build structured park-and-rides at transit hubs today, meeting existing parking demand and fulfilling the “last mile” needs of transit riders, while banking the structure for a future use that fulfills a public good such as affordable housing.

Below grade (underground) parking, most common in dense urban areas, will be the most difficult to re-purpose for other uses and will likely be the last space to be converted to non-parking uses. However, conversion of underground parking is possible. Uses that do not require daylight include: personal storage, data centers, AV “hives” (for storage, charging and minor maintenance), food storage, warehouses and virtual reality booths. One primary challenge when building below grade parking is the exorbitant cost of excavation, which makes the deeper hole required by taller floor to floor heights required for future convertibility a financial challenge for builders.

One potential solution to this problem is the use of intermediate steel floors between conventional concrete slabs. The steel structure is adequate to support automobiles, but is not integral to the building structure and could be removed in the future when the structure is no longer needed for parking. The resulting 16’+ floor-to-floor heights created after removal of the steel floor structure could allow for spaces such as theaters, workout facilities, small sports courts, skate rinks, skate parks, retail/incubator, light industrial production, band practice spaces, “maker” workshops, and art studios/galleries. It’s feasible to provide egress and bring daylight down through floor openings created by removing parking ramps or by re-purposing car lift hoistways.

During a panel discussion at the 2018 Urbanism Next Conference in Portland, OR, a representative of a small city in Oregon of about 30,000 residents noted that her municipality was having difficulty obtaining financing from the bank for a conventional parking garage. The bank questioned the financial viability of a new single-use parking structure and had requested information regarding plans for re-purposing the structure in the next decade or two as parking demand decreased. The bank’s demand is telling, as this type of shift in the thinking of our financial institutions will require developers to consider future reuse when developing new parking.


In summary, the mass introduction of AV will most certainly change our view on car ownership and utility, especially in dense urban areas versus sparse non-urban areas where car utility varies greatly. It also forces us to reconsider our needs for parking spaces and how we can best utilize them in a driver-less future.

As planners and designers, we are logically forced to ask: what does AV mean for the future of mass transit and where we choose live? Building on the above assumptions, Part Two will tackle this question, from a planning and development perspective.

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

We are currently seeking candidates for the position of Project Architect in our Seattle office.  This person will work within our multi-disciplinary team to provide management and leadership on high-rise residential, commercial and public transit projects.

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 coordinate and document multifamily residential and commercial projects with the opportunity to participate in public-sector infrastructure and urban design projects in the future.

Experience Requirements

  • Registered architect (or intern on registration path) with 5 to 10 years of experience
  • Bachelor or Master of Architecture degree
  • LEED AP preferred

Key Skills

  • Dedicated team player, excellent communicator, possessing demonstrated skill at the execution of technically complex projects.
  • Strong skills in architectural design, documentation, and illustration including mastery of Sketchup Pro.
  • Strong experience in the management and use of Revit 3D Building Information Modeling and AutoCAD. Fluency with production in these programs.
  • 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.
  • Thorough familiarity with the technical considerations involved in coordinating and executing Type 5 wood frame multifamily residential and Type 1 concrete high-rise residential and commercial building types.
  • Passion for high quality design and sustainable design. Experience with sustainable building rating systems an asset.

Salary and Benefits

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

How to Apply

Please email resume in PDF with cover letter/email, and “Project Architect” in subject-line, attention Wolf Saar, FAIA, LEED AP

  • 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.

For more information about VIA Architecture, please visit our website at

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

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 array that will generate 2.5% of the station’s annual power needs and rainwater harvesting to serve 100% of the station’s landscape irrigation needs. Completed in September 2016, the project achieved LEED Gold certification, which is the second train station in the United States to achieve this status. The project won an ACEC Silver Award for Transportation, and will go on to compete at the ACEC National Awards in Washington DC in April.


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 & Shared Mobility, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)

Sound Transit and the Office of Housing have approved the joint proposal submitted by Bellwether Housing and Mercy Housing NW for the 6600 Roosevelt area. This new, mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD) will be a large step forward in achieving Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) goals for more family–sized apartment units with the need to maximize the number of affordable units in the City.

VIA is leading the master planning and entitlement process for the development. The Bellwether-Mercy Housing team’s design focuses on creating dense, efficient housing for families, resulting in a greater number of expected residents than typical urban developments. By providing more apartment units with two and three bedrooms, families are more likely to find their future homes in this dense, transit-oriented development.

“This project is a perfect example of Sound Transit’s commitment to affordable housing. I’m grateful to the project team for their excellent proposal, the neighborhood for its tireless advocacy, and the City and Sound Transit for making this exciting project come to fruition.”

– Rob Johnson, Sound Transit Boardmember and Seattle City Councilmember.

The new Roosevelt Station, a key part of this development, is one of the two underground stations in the North Link extension. Roosevelt Station will open in fall 2021, providing light rail access to the University District and Northgate neighborhoods, as well as the broader Link Light Rail network. The site will also incorporate a range of active social service and retail/commercial uses which will be revealed by Sound Transit.

Matt Roewe, VIA Director, speaking on the collective effort behind the winning submission said, “This was a phenomenal group effort to create a highly dynamic, family friendly, neighborhood friendly, Sound Transit friendly, retail diverse and rich, and 100% affordable project.”

The above image shows the grand steps that will lead to the Village Square, as viewed from the new Green Street on NE 66th Street. Read Sound Transit’s announcement of the Roosevelt TOD here.


With an original target of LEED Silver, we’re happy to announce that Angle Lake Station has officially achieved LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council! This was welcome news that stands apart from most your typical transit station project. It is uncommon for rail stations to be certifiable under LEED’s New Construction score card due to the limited extent of conditioned spaced and lack of FTE occupants. The project, created through the design-build delivery method, was offered no special incentives to go above and beyond a minimum sustainability target. Through a rigorous design process across multiple collaborative teams, the project resulted in a station that exemplifies a dedication to fostering sustainability.

“The Angle Lake Station exemplifies the creative ways in which transit facilities can function as sustainable resources in their communities. Achieving LEED Gold status for our newest Link station is a testament to Sound Transit’s commitment to use taxpayer dollars to design and build facilities that contribute to the health of our environment here in the Puget Sound region.”

– Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff.


VIA was the architectural lead of the design-build team (comprised of PCL as lead contractor and HDR as lead engineer consultant). VIA incorporated an ambitious sustainability program, including a rooftop photovoltaic array that will generate 2.5% of the station’s annual power needs and rainwater harvesting to serve 100% of the station’s landscape irrigation needs.

Angle Lake Station is the first light rail station in the Northwest to certify LEED Gold, setting a new standard for future designs. We here at VIA could not be more thrilled to have worked with such a forward-looking client and team.

For even more information on the project, see what Sound Transit have to say about Angle Lake Station here.

Black Shed White Spring Ranch

Image courtesy White Spring Ranch Museum/Archive Library Facebook page

Architecture students at Washington State University’s School of Design and Construction (SDC) have recently wrapped up a long standing project at White Spring Ranch Musem/Archive Library in Genessee, Idaho. The project, titled ‘Black Shed,’ is a barn for storage that also acts as an amphitheater for the Ranch to support community events.

VIA’s Managing Director Wolf Saar, acting as part of SDC’s Architectural Advisory Board, helped contribute mentorship to the group of students that worked to design and build the project. Over the course of two years the students worked tirelessly to develop Black Shed from its original planned form in 2015. The students can be seen on the Ranch’s Facebook page engaged in constructing the shed, even in some of western Idaho’s most temperamental weather. Snow storms are an annual occurrence on the Palouse, though this does not appear to have slowed down the determined group.

The students were led by Taiji Miyasaka, Associate Professor at WSU. The shed will be unveiled at the Ranch’s annual Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social on July 15th.


VIA Vancouver is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Transit/Urban Infrastructure Architect.

Key Skills

  • Politically astute client and project lead comfortable presenting to and facilitating process with both public and private audiences;
  • Connecter of disciplines, clients, stakeholders and municipalities, building bridges to achieve the best results for the project;
  • 3D thinker comfortable with addressing complex sites,  geometries and stakeholder groups.


  • Strategic leadership of Infrastructure and Transit market pursuits;
  • Project management and design team leadership;
  • Client care and communication.

 Desired Experience

  • Licensed Architect with 10-15 years of professional practice;
  • Career focus and recent projects in complex multi-disciplinary public sectors such as transit architecture, urban design, or infrastructure design.

Salary and Benefits

Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Generous benefits are offered to employees, their spouses, domestic partners and families, including: medical/dental insurance, retirement funds contribution matching, and transit subsidy.

How to Apply

Please submit cover letter, resume and work samples in PDF format (no more than 2MB) to Charlene Kovacs, Managing Director, at Please include “Urban infrastructure Architect” in subject-line.

No phone calls or office visits please.

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