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Happy Holidays

Dec 22, 2010

As the eve of Christmas approaches, we thought we would take this opportunity to wish you a very happy holiday season and an excellent new year.

This card was created by our own intern architect, Ivan Ilic. We only hope that Halmark doesn’t try to scoop him up.

So from all of us here at VIA Architecture, Season’s greetings and (aside from a post on Friday) we shall see you all in the new year!

Monday News Roundup

Dec 20, 2010

California approves more big solar powered projects (Grist)
The California Energy Commission on Wednesday approved two more big solar thermal power plants, ending the year having green-lighted a total of nine projects that would generate 4,142.5 megawatts if all were built.

The music of planning (Planetizen)
A website called “Isle of Tune” lets you build streets SimCity-style, with a twist- the houses and streetlights become musical elements in the sequence that you make.

TransLink to let public vote on name of electronic fare card (Planetizen)
TransLink plans to let the public decide what its new electronic fare cards, which are set to be introduced in 2013, will be named.

View corridors in downtown Vancouver are protected, city planner says (Vancouver Sun)
Vancouver city’s plan to consider allowing extra-tall buildings in the downtown core affects only seven specific sites and would not allow any intrusions into long-protected view corridors, the city’s director of planning said Thursday.

Can streetcars save America’s cities? (CNN)
In a down economy, pursuing the American dream can be challenging, but restaurant owner Todd Steele was willing to take a chance. He set up shop on a streetcar route and has benefited tremendously from it.

A video of Curitiba, Brazil, the birth place of bus rapid transit (youtube)
Hover over cc to get English subtitles and learn about the planning that went into the bus rapid transit of Curitiba.

You’ve Heard of Pocket Parks, but Pocket Airports? (Planetizen)
A NASA-related agency envisions a future when people will commute from small neighborhood “pocket airports” in their “Suburban Air Vehicles” (SAVs).

Five Technologies That Matter For Cities (Planetizen)
Mobile broadband, government-sponsored cloud computing, smart devices – these are a few of the technologies that cities should be thinking about for the future, says the Institute for the Future in a new report.

Smart Growth’s Future in Northern Virginia (Planetizen)
In an interview with Arlington County Board Vice-Chairman Christopher Zimmerman, Jonna McKone asks the local official about current and future transit-oriented development (TOD) and managed growth in the Washington, D.C. region.

‘Humane’ food sparks excitement, labeling controversy (Vancouver Sun)
ST. LOUIS — American shoppers face a dizzying array of labels in the aisles of their grocery stores, most designed to help them make healthy choices. Soon they’ll see yet another label — this one concerning the health of animals in the food chain.

Solar-Powered Machine Creates Rainbows From Recycled Rainwater (Inhabitat)
Rainbows are fleeting and beautiful illusions – a gift from nature to us. Certain climatic conditions are generally required in the creation of a rainbow — unless you’re artist Michael Jones McKean, who has found a way to shoot rainbows across the sky at will. Next June McKean will produce a rainbow twice a day for 15 minutes using reclaimed rainwater and sunlight.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jenny and I am an intern architect.

What made you decide to go into your field?

A fascination with maps and plans, and of course – lego! I also thought it would be an interesting job.

What did your family think of your chosen field?

They were delighted – apart from the cost of me having to go away for university, when the local university was literally a 10min walk from our house. (It didn’t offer architecture as a course)

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?

Hugh Campbell my 2nd year History & Theory lecturer and Studio Head. For his enthusiasm but also for showing that architecture is everywhere and affects so many aspects of life – it’s not just about 4 walls.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)

Trying to overcome nervousness in project critiques and believing in my work, so I think I was probably my own biggest hurdle.

What inspires you?

Simplicity.

What schooling is required for success in your career?

Bachelors Degree in Architecture, (or a Masters is more common in this part of the world).

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?

All types of people can be successful in architecture. Different aspects of the job play to different strengths – hence working in teams tends to work out quite well! Some useful attributes include creativity, practicality, ability to compromise, good communication skills and a logical mindset.

What is the best advice you were ever given?

‘Hold the head’, by my Dad. It is his stock advice in all of life’s problems, big or small. I think it’s good advice!

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)

Not at home (Ireland) right now unfortunately, but I don’t think things are too bad here in Vancouver.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?

The college stuff isn’t easy, but the job can be great if you like learning new things, continuously being challenged and variety.

How Design Can Affect Your Mood

by Jennifer Kelly, VIA Architecture

Architects have long intuited that the places we inhabit can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Now behavioral scientists are giving their hunches an empirical basis.

Scientists are unearthing tantalizing clues about how to design spaces that promote creativity, keep students focused and alert, and lead to relaxation and social intimacy. The results inform architectural and design decisions such as the height of ceilings, the view from windows, the shape of furniture, and the type and intensity of lighting.

Such efforts are leading to cutting-edge projects such as residences for seniors with dementia in which the building itself is part of the treatment. [source]

Ceiling Height
Back in 2007, Joan Meyers-Levy, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota, wrote a paper that found that an individual’s thoughts and actions were affected by the height of the ceiling:

“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly. They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”

 An Art Studio is better suited for high ceilings

But Meyers-Levy is quick to point out that there are good reasons for a low-ceiling height; like in an operating room where you want the surgeon to “focus on specifics.”

Building Views
What about the view that you have from your office or living room window? It would be easy to assume that if you had a window that looked out at trees, fields, etc., that you would be more distracted than if you had no view.

Quite the opposite is true — a study by an environmental psychologist found that views of natural settings actually improve focus. Other studies along the same lines have even found that children with ADD are more focused after being able to observe “green space.”

Great deck design (and not just for a view out the window, but a chance to relax before getting back to work!)

But what if your office or home is located in the middle of a city where your only option is an urban view?

While people already have a tendency to feel relaxed / rejuvenated by nature, psychologist Stephen Kaplan proposed that urban settings are too stimulating and that paying attention to them requires more work than a view of nature.

We can counteract this over-stimulation, by adding greenery to our windows and our decks, or living in a building that has a rooftop garden, so that, even for a moment, we can focus on nature and forget the bustle of the city below.

Color
Every interior designer knows that the colors in a room can affect mood. Restaurant owners choose colors and designs that either encourage customers to stay and enjoy the evening (soft cushions, low light), or to eat quickly and move on so that they can seat more customers (bright colors, hard seats).

There are also times when individuals will pick out a color they think they like for their walls and furniture, but once the room is painted and furniture arranged, they find they feel uncomfortable. So before choosing your colors, take time to think about the emotions you want to bring out in a particular room:

Blue brings a calming feeling of serenity and is great for bathrooms or living rooms. But dark blue can evoke feelings of sadness, so refrain from using it as a main color in a room (see image below with dark blue as just accents):

link

Yellow is a “happy” color that lightens your mood and can help you feel more carefree. It is a great color for kitchens, where many people start their day, and is one of the most used rooms in the house. (beware of red, orange, and brown, which evoke feelings of hunger):

(What do you think about this one?! 

(couldn’t resist this yellow bedroom + bathroom)

Red is the color of passion, and can evoke intense feelings like love or anger. Perhaps a bedroom with red is a good choice, although it should only be used as accents, and not as a dominant color, as it could promote restlessness:

Orange encourages an enthusiastic mood, and would be a great color for a children’s playroom or for an exercise room (but not for a baby’s nursery, as it can be too overstimulating).

It can also be a great color for social gatherings, or to increase appetite (like if you want your loved one to make sure they get a great breakfast in the morning):

Green evokes a feeling of the outdoors and can help alleviate stress. With those qualifications, it would be great in any room:

(if you want to create a real forest, instead of just simulate one) link

Purple can also bring out a passionate mood — bonus: the darker the shade, the more passionate you feel. It is also associated with luxury and royalty. If used as an accent, it can bring warmth and depth into a room.

 (like a “darker shade” = “more passionate,  I’m not sure what “more neon” equals) link

Black is a very powerful color and should be used in moderation, or it can overwhelm a room. Here are some accents, as well as Gray colors, which can add a subtle elegance to a room:

(found on a website called “Clearly Fabulous“)

And of course, there’s White, which evokes a mode of cleanliness and calm (as long as it’s kept clean!):

Some fun accents in a white room:

 (not completely white, but I love this image + wanted to fit it in somewhere)

Other interesting tidbits about how design can affect mood:

  • Adequate sunlight improves student’s grades
  • When exposed to more sunlight, retirement home residents have less “cognitive decline” [+ have overall improved brain function]
  • Having lighting in your home that can change from day to night will help you not only to stay awake, but also to sleep at night.
  • Dim lighting helps people loosen up
  • Curved furniture and edges are preferable to sharp edges (because of the association of sharp angles with “danger”)
  • In Residential Health Care Facilities, the common practice of placing chairs along the walls of resident day rooms or lounges actually prevented socializing
    • A better plan to encourage interaction, researchers found, is organizing furniture in small groupings throughout the room
  •  Classrooms:
    • semicircle configuration increased student participation
    • putting desks in rows encourages students to work independently and improves classroom behavior
  • Carpeting can “grease social wheels”
    • In hospitals, carpet increases the amount of time patients’ friends and families spend visiting (which may speed healing)

Monday News Roundup

Dec 13, 2010

Update on the Rainier Urban Farm at the Atlantic City Nursery  (Urban Farm Hub )
Great updates on a local project we’re involved with.

One big idea – bring Vancouver together  (Globe and Mail)
Meeru Dhalwala has come up with a new way to bring people together. The co-owner and chef at the internationally known restaurants Vij’s – described by The New York Times as “easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world” – and Rangoli in South Granville has a Big Idea for boosting the spirit of community in Vancouver.

Bicycle freight – thinking outside the box truck  (Grist)
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, is planning something that, at first glance, is unbelievable. He wants to ban semi trucks from the city.

Bicyclists Outpace Cars in Downtown, Says New Study  (Planetizen)
A new study of how people are using the French bikesharing system in Lyon provides ample data for American planners hoping implementing similar systems, and reveals that bicycles are faster and more effective than cars in downtown commutes.

It’s time to update the definition of Smart Growth (Kaid at NRDC)
It has been a dozen years or so, fifteen at the most, since a broad but committed group of advocates and organizations coalesced around a shared set of beliefs that, borrowing from then-Maryland-governor Parris Glendening’s landmark legislation, we called “smart growth.”

Defining Provocative Urbanism  (Sustainable Cities Collective)
Amid today’s writing on cities, there is a theme afoot.  Something called provocative urbanism could define today’s excitement and communication about cities, as the focus of multiple articles, tweets, videos and lectures.

Ride your bike, support urban farming  (Urban Farm Hub)
What’s cooler than growing food in vacant urban space? Riding bikes around Lake Washington to support urban farming!

Real Christmas trees aid the environment?  (Sacbee)
The Nature Conservancy is campaigning for people to use real Christmas trees, not the manufactured kind, as a way to lower our carbon footprint.

Pop-up cafes in parking spaces  (GOOD)
It’s not that New York does everything first, or even better, but when New York experiments, people (and cities) across the country take note. Case in point: the pop-up cafe.

How will cities be shaped by transit in the future?  (Grist)
According to Chris Borroni-Bird, director of GM’s advanced technology vehicle concepts work, we’re about to see a new chapter in the story of cars and cities.

Mass Transit on Track in Tehran  (Planetizen)
Over the past 30 years, the overgrown Iranian capital has arrived at unhealthy levels of air pollution and traffic congestion, but with the installation of a metro, BRT system, and bike rental program seems to be heading in a new direction.

City councillor floats downtown public square plan  (Vancouver Courier)
Imagine a block in the middle of downtown where you could sit and drink a coffee in the sun. NPA Coun. Suzanne Anton does, and she planned to champion her vision of a public space at city council Tuesday afternoon, after the Courier’s press deadline.

EPA Smart Growth Awards Live Blogging, Part 1: EPA’s Approach and the 2010 Winners  (The City Fix)

Can Planning Rebuild “Ghettos of the Mind”?  (Planetizen)
Dehumanizing urban renewal-era public housing developments across North America are being replaced by mixed-use, mixed income neighborhoods with affordable housing. Yet in Regent Park, Toronto at least, many troubling social problems remain.

Friday Feature: Bill

Dec 10, 2010

Who are you and what do you do?

Joined VIA in September ‐ currently coordinating the Skytrain integration with the Plaza 88 development in New Westminster and soon to inherit the entire Plaza 88 project.

What made you decide to go into your field?

It was about the integrity of architecture, what it has been, what it does and can do and being able to cultivate and employ a particular view of living through built form.

What did your family think of your chosen field?

I come from a lengthy line of radiologists – brother, sister in law, father, aunt, grandfather – I went into architecture….with blank stares.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?

Artists — who are less shackled by the realities architects face.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)

Financial yes and pressure from beauracracies along the way.

What inspires you?

The goal of the bigger picture and when 1 and 1 = 3

What schooling is required for success in your career?

For me it was 4 yrs to prove you are worthy to enter architecture + 3 yrs of architecure + 2 yrs to prove you are worthy to practice architecture….. then schooling yourself the rest of your life.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?

Good communicators, people who understanding the interconnectedness of things, generally people who have lived enough to know.

What is the best advice you were ever given?

No one gave me any good advice that I can remember ‐ I had to give myself advice.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)

Not growing so much but morphing – losing something and hopefully gaining something else. The profession needs to expand its influence to open up new avenues.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?

I say start early, get varied life experiences and a broad education then go into architecture. Don’t worry about the fashion or the details they will change anyway. Look for the substance.

a “small pitch” for the specificity of language.

by Richard Borbridge, Urban Planner for VIA Architecture
image credit

It is the bane of my every walk to work in the morning.

A short walk down the new Granville Street and there it rests – nary larger than a “no parking” sign, and just gleaming and fresh enough to unfailing catch my eye against the black lamp standard:

“up to small pitch”

The great eighth note above says “play here!” to the newly unshackled busking community – the eighth note… and the word Busking. But the words below speak clearly to an agonizing misrepresentation of musical performance knowledge.

A quick look at the definition of ‘pitch’ ranges from the by-product of tar, to a soccer field, to its rightful musical definition – the tone or frequency of a sound (which is high or low, not small or large) and finally, down the list and Chiefly British, “the stand of a vendor or hawker” – which, while perhaps the most relevant, is still a linguistic leap from the City’s intended meaning.

I understand that these signs are intended to coordinate the level of intensity of a performance on the street and the city’s introductory PDF confirms as much:

  • Small pitch (S): Minor amplification, designed for passers-by, not designed for crowd building
  • Medium pitch (M): Medium amplification, small crowd building, less than 50 person audience
  • Large pitch (L): Medium + amplification, circle crowds, middle of street or large plaza spaces, 100+ person audience

However, what the signs do say is gibberish.

The imprecise use of words and the overuse of imprecise words is hardly a new lament in the English language. My closest friends would be quick to point out that I’m hardly innocent. However, I’m not sure what prompted the City of Vancouver to establish ‘pitch’ as its go-to word in the busking regulation business.

I fear it’s the same prompt that has misrepresented “green” in many aspects of our lives, and so variably defined “sustainability” so as to be a deeply felt throwaway word. What do you think of when someone says “street”? Does your vision of the street demarcate public space, does it include the sidewalks or just the roadway from curb to curb? Is “road” any better? The principle of precise and relevant language continues to dog our public spaces, partly because these most commonly used words are so common and imbued with each person’s experience and perspective, rather than any formal definition.

A large component of the work of design professions is communicating – mostly through pictures. The reason both words and images exist simultaneously is because they serve different, complementary purposes. All too often however, we need to describe an image in words, which is when communication can break down. We fall back on the 10,000-or-so words most frequently used words in our vocabulary, choosing those that just ‘feel’ right, or we turn to neologisms and mash-ups that strive to fill in the blanks between our 7,000 favourites and the 171,476 words in the OED.

In this era of Google’s instant search (just type “define:” people) a bit of second-guessing is easy. Alongside the radical transformations words are undergoing as a result of new technologies – from the Internet to our infrastructure – it is vital that we share our meanings, not just our words.

So let’s all SaveTheWords and pledge a little more precision. Let’s hunt down just the right word and take back the nuance, especially in public spaces. Like “pitch”, when you only have one word to make your point, it had better be right.

PS – Since this writing they have appliqued operational hours on the signs. Any suggestions for a better busking word? “To small audience”, “little busk stop”? If they stickered over them once, they could do it again… perhaps better.

PPS – Other signs with problems

Friday Feature: Kate

Dec 03, 2010

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kate and I am an urban planner…

What made you decide to go into your field?

A few years after college I wound up in a job at an affordable housing non-profit in Brooklyn where we built and managed housing, community gardens, and provided tenant advocacy. I learned about the process of neighborhood development, and the ongoing gentrification of Bedford Sty. I became very curious about why certain spaces and neighborhoods worked better than others as well as the lines on the map you couldn’t see – tracing color, class and use.

What did your family think of your chosen field?

My mom’s a planner too! She helped to write the legislation for the first ISTEA Intermodal Surface Transportation Policy Act (1991) and went on to work to achieve Context Sensitive Highway Design in the State of California among other things.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)

Distractions – of all kinds

What inspires you?

Beauty in all forms – often what is distracting…Whether in thought or design.

What schooling is required for success in your career?

It makes sense to go for a Master’s to help transition into that first key job as the field grows in competitiveness, but really Planning is not about being trained as an expert, it’s just a particular way of viewing and being curious about the world. Lots of training can take place on the job in both analysis and systems thinking. I was an anthropology undergrad with a focus on cultural studies…I think of Urban Planning sometimes as applied anthropology.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?

I think planners are better if they can be translators; this requires having a flexible perspective about the way things are done, and to see linkages between the different disciplines. The best planners should have an ability to strategize and work hard to make things happen on the ground.

What is the best advice you were ever given?

I think I’ve probably forgotten it. Sadly.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)

Of course and it’s all about retrofitting now – making auto-oriented places more walkable, and building up neighborhoods to transform our geographies of nowhere. As the benefits and the reasons behind Growth Management become manifest (i.e. our resources are finite) there will hopefully be more political will to make these kinds of tough calls. There are lots of interesting places to work on these issues too, California, Chicago, the East, The Plains States…each place is having to grapple with transition and change. Shrinking Cities and Growing Cities.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?

Always keep in the front of your mind the kinds of problems you want to solve as you are moving forward in the field- environmental, community, social, or equity. I use this as a lens to make decisions, and seek out new opportunities.

For example – If you are considering a masters in planning- think about the City where the school is as your laboratory – and what kinds of issues it is addressing. It might end up having a lot of influence over your future.

by Wolf Saar, Director of Practice for VIA Architecture

The VIAVOX in Seattle last month was a hit, thanks to a relevant topic and a great group of panelists!

First, to explain the broader picture: our firm has historically hosted “Salons,” which aim to initiate conversations surrounding current issues in architecture, planning, and design. We recently renamed these to be called VIAVOX. Latin for ‘voice,’ we intend to hold a quarterly VIAVOX in both our Seattle and Vancouver offices.

The VIAVOX in October addressed “Connected Senior Urbanism.” It was a discussion about how urban design can contribute to an engaged lifestyle as we age.

The inspiration for this includes:

  • Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC’s). Here is a link to the local initiative
  • Urban Planning for Seniors. Here is a link to EDRA
  • Silver Seniors, an initiative in New York City. See this article
  • Universal Design in the Public Realm

Designed to be an opportunity to get a group of people around a topic of interest, we invited four panelists to join us, each of whom brought an engaged perspective to enliven the discussion. Representatives ranging from affordable public housing to market-rate private communities, service providers, neighborhood advocates and the media joined with VIA architects, interior designers, and planners from both our Seattle and Vancouver, BC offices.

Joanne Donohue, Senior Services
Aging Your Way

The following is a synopsis of what the panelists brought to the conversation:

Supporting community members as they age, Aging Your Way is an attempt to start a different type of conversation around aging, focused on the positive aspects in lieu of the deficit side of aging. Through the parent organization, Senior Services, they get to see the strengths and relationships and lifetime of knowledge of the seniors and wanted to get other people excited about it. Wanting to maintain the good work seniors centers are doing, they also wanted to be relevant to seniors so they put together the Aging Your Way initiative.

Aging Your Way has hosted gatherings in several Seattle neighborhoods and plans more in the region and for selected population groups. Designed as a three hour gathering that starts with visioning and comes up with ideas to help get to that vision, they use open space facilitation to get to the ideas that shape the most energy in the room. During the two months prior to meeting with the community, they identify who the stakeholders and leaders are in a particular community and get them engaged.

There have already been four gatherings and there are four to six more planned in the next year, which will be topped off by a summit. Joanne pinned up large sketches documenting the input from previous gatherings and these elicited some lively conversation.

Pam Piering, City of Seattle, Aging and Disability Services

Pam introduced the notion that as adults age, they don’t want just to be greeted: they want a living, breathing connection to a community, and they want to be a lively part of that.

Built environment + The quiet crisis
Seniors are flying below the radar in terms of their level of need right now. Addressing the built environment is essential and vehicles such as development incentives and the introduction of universal design are critical components.

Promotion of physical activity is a key ingredient. Research is powerful that says that, in addition to the social element of being outdoors, physical activity helps one live longer and provides connectivity to a neighborhood. Senior housing no longer necessarily means one big building with all of the units in one building: It can be integrated into the community and neighborhood, supporting a livable and walkable community. Many boomers and seniors are finding the “leisure worlds” created as retirement communities are not something they want, so addressing the built environment is essential. In many instances this means retrofitting design rather than building new.

Pam posed the question: How can we help residents stay healthy in their own homes?
Through initiatives like “Farm to Table,” local farmers are connecting with the tables where seniors eat. By getting fresh local fruits and veggies, we can impact the long term health of our communities.

Other key aspects include:

  • Financial literacy and training.
    • Retirement funds: more conversations and more support
  • Health care reform is happening and talks about healthy communities and better information
  • Public policies to help seniors stay in their homes
  • Helping seniors have affordable housing with services available to them
  • Support for seniors living with family members
  • Locating housing where people can connect to public transit
  • Encouraging people to look at successful models for seniors.
    • The old models may not be the model of the future; it may be much more flexible.
    • People are going to live longer, and injuries don’t mean they’ll stay in a care facility.
    • There is a resiliency to seniors and we have to think of that in our new housing models.
  • Advocacy strategies. How can we support better housing options for older adults?
  • If you don’t frame this in the right language, our policy world is too willing to let things slide along and not address it until it’s too far along

If you want to read more on “The Quiet Crisis,” this link will take you to a report to congress by the Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century.

Pamela “Tommy” Tomlinson
Legacy House
Tommy was not able to join us but the link above provides some insight to the Seattle Chinatown / International District Preservation and Development Authority and Legacy House. In addition to providing affordable assisted living to Seattle’s Asian community, Tommy has been instrumental in establishing various senior services including adult day health care and a lunch program. Her efforts are an example of putting into practice many of the concepts discussed by Pam.

Art Mussman
Art is active in volunteer activities where his special interests are affordable housing, transportation and access to medical services. Art serves on the Aging and Disability Services Advisory Council, Evergreen Hospital Community Advisory Council and the St. Jude – Redmond Stewardship Council. He also serves on the Kirkland Senior Council where he is active in promoting the use of Universal Design in the built environment. He focused on Universal Design as a way to facilitate the ability to age in community.

It’s not just about taking all homes and making them livable for a person in a wheelchair. It’s for everyone. For instance, round doorknobs are tough; people with arthritic wrists may have a hard time turning them. The same is true with light switches. There is no reason why not to lower the light switch. This allows a child to reach it as well as a person in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, the average person still has no trouble turning it on

Universal design applies to the community as well. Art used the example of the Kirkland Senior Center and the bus stop with no bus shelter. He also mentioned how even the stop is now gone making access to seniors that much more difficult!

The following link is to the Northwest Universal Design Council’s website, an organization Art is active in.

Aside from the discussion that grew from our panelists remarks, the group also talked about the concept of incentive zoning targeted towards affordable housing. The notion of accessory dwelling units has opened up a little in Seattle and may provide a model for other communities. We discussed the concept of the Fab Cab, a universally-designed pre-fabricated dwelling unit that has direct application as an accessory dwelling unit.

We enjoyed the conversation and believe it helped expand the dialog about the changing face of aging and the role of service providers, the community and design in that process.We look forward to continuing to host these events in Vancouver and Seattle!

Monday News Roundup

Nov 30, 2010

Millennials driving less want alternatives (Metro magazine)
Almost one-half of all 18- to 34-year-old drivers are driving less, and nearly two-thirds would drive less if alternative transportation options were available, according to an independent study commissioned by Zipcar Inc.

Images from the world’s most walkable cities (Switchboard)
Frommer’s just came out with their list of the world’s ten most walkable cities. Compact, urbane, mixed-use, resilient, every one of them.

Vancouver’s Farm City builds your raised beds for you (City Farmer News)
we built 4 raised beds, comprising some 115 square feet of growing space (that’s a lot of fresh greens, herbs and veggies!). And because it would be a hassle to mow between the beds, we installed river rock paths

Buy Local or Bye-Bye Local (Crosscut)
Around Bellingham you can hardly avoid noticing stickers and small posters that carry the message “Buy Local, or Bye-Bye Local.” It’s a tiny part of a major campaign to sustain local banks, local stores, local agriculture, local manufacturers and service providers.

Cities, states start to adopt climate change survival strategies (Grist)
As it becomes ever more clear that Congress has retreated from climate change legislation faster than a Greenland glacier, cities and states are starting to focus on adapting to the inevitable.

Most dangerous Vancouver bike crossings (beyond Robson)
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia does not only have to look after drivers, but also cyclists.

Green Roofed Sports Pavillion Opens in Portugal (Inhabitat)
Architects Filipe Brandao and Nuno Sanches recently saw the completion of their collaborative design work that seamlessly integrates a fantastic sports pavilion with an existing primary school in Braga, Portugal. Their smart design boasts a green roof that recedes into the natural slope of the surrounding streetscape, ensuring that one more green space is kept intact within the city.

China gets serious about sustainability (Planetizen)
Warren Karlenzig is back from two recent visits to China, and says the Chinese government is preparing to release a hugely ambitious agenda for getting greener.

Discovering what lies beneath Seattle (Planetizen)
As Seattle prepares to undertake several major construction projects, the city should embrace and explore its buried archaeological past as a means to involve community members and spark interest in local history, argues Knute Berger.

Farmigo Streamlines CSA Systems So Farmers Can Profit (Treehugger)
CSAs, or Community Sustained Agriculture programs, are an excellent way to ensure that the bounty of a farm reaches our kitchen tables. Consumers subscribe to a farm or group (either annual, monthly, or per-box) and receive boxes of freshly harvested, usually organic foods.

Le Truc’s Bustaurant Serves Up Cuisine On a Re-purposed Bus (Inhabitat)
Forget about dining inside a fancy restaurant, nowadays it seems like all the good Bay Area food is being served up on wheels. With the Street Food Festival in full swing, and a fleet of gourmet gocarts at Off the Grid, we’re all about chasing down delicious downsized grub. But here’s the latest addition that gives a new spin on the the food cart frenzy – meet the Le Truc, a 1989 ford Ward School Bus turned bus resuaturan or “bustaurant.” Already gaining popularity, next week Le Truc will claim their permanent parking spot at 470 Brannan Street.

A boom in bike commuting in the US (Planetizen)
NPR reports on the impressive growth – a tripling, even – of bicycling in the United States, with a particular focus on commuting.