Why Seattle’s New Early Community Outreach Requirement Will Actually Damage the City

Seattle, like many large cities, has a required Design Review process for most large-scale commercial, multifamily and mixed-use projects. This program is run by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and the size thresholds for this program vary by zone and project type. For instance, Design Review is required for a townhouse project in a Low Rise (LR) zone with more than 8 dwelling units. Similarly, Design Review is also required for an apartment building in a Midrise (MR) zone with more than 20 units. According to the SDCI, there are three principle objectives of this Design Review process:
1. To encourage excellence in site planning and design of projects such that they enhance the character of the City.
2. To provide flexibility in the application of development standards.
3. To improve communication and participation among developers, neighbors and the City early in the process. This design review
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A BUILD Shift


[Photos by BUILD LLC] From the earliest days, BUILD has operated with the clear intention of being generalists in an increasingly specialized world and working within a framework of adaptability and agility, with a focus on action. We are a service-based company with the primary goal of championing our client’s interests while, in the old adage, striving to leave each (client, place, relationship) better than we found it.
 

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” -R. Buckminster Fuller

 
As a firm, we’ve created many projects, weathered many storms, fostered many relationships and have made numerous incremental adjustments in our approach and our identity. As with any enterprise, we’ve gone through shifts in the past, and recently, we identified an opportunity to sharpen our focus and make changes to improve our firm. With a renewed focus of our internal team and on how to best serve our clients
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The Park Modern Turns 10


[Photo by BUILD LLC] The University District’s mixed-use Park Modern building recently turned ten years old and the project offers a wealth of knowledge in Seattle’s current real estate market. Having weathered a decade’s worth of gray winters, a great recession, and the daily wear and tear of an urban environment, it’s an appropriate time for a performance review. The Seattle building’s footprint was configured to optimize the small 7,500sf site, an area equivalent to 1.5 single family home sites. Two small, adjacent parcels had been purchased and combined, which allowed the project to have critical mass in scale as well as enough value for construction financing. Although a project of smaller margins, this type of bootstrapping may be even more relevant with today’s challenges of creating affordable housing using modestly scaled infill projects. As available City lots are becoming scarce, while the city’s population continues to grow, the
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The Park Modern Turns 10


[Photo by BUILD LLC] The University District’s mixed-use Park Modern building recently turned ten years old, and the project offers a wealth of knowledge in Seattle’s current real estate market. Having weathered a decade’s worth of gray winters, a great recession, and the daily wear and tear of an urban environment, it’s an appropriate time for a performance review. The Seattle building’s footprint was configured to optimize the small 7,500sf site, an area equivalent to 1.5 single family home sites. Two small, adjacent parcels had been purchased and combined, which allowed the project to have critical mass in scale as well as enough value for construction financing. Although a project of smaller margins, this type of bootstrapping may be even more relevant with today’s challenges of creating affordable housing using modestly scaled infill projects. As available City lots are becoming scarce, while the city’s population continues to grow, the
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Open Letter to the Mayor

Dear Mayor Durkan, We welcome you to office and admire your direct and candid comments regarding the issues of affordable housing and homelessness shared during your campaign. Your initiatives reflect the concerns of the community at large and your position resonates with many in the community. As you are transitioning from advocate/ candidate, to head of a Seattle in need of steady leadership, all while balancing many voices and agendas, we want to provide you with the collective information that we think will aid your success as mayor of Seattle. You and your opponent spent much of your respective campaigns discussing our current population growth and impacts on our city as well as potential policy changes in Urban Design and building development for Seattle. We have been engaged in this conversation professionally and personally for some time. We’ve taken the opportunity to first get facts and figures straight regarding Seattle’s
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Architectural Origins, Educations and Risks; A Conversation with Steven Holl and Ed Weinstein, Part 2


[Steven Holl and Ed Weinstein, photo by BUILD LLC] Last summer, BUILD sat down with Steven Holl and Ed Weinstein in Seattle’s Pike Place Market to discuss their humble beginnings, their common educational paths, and the life experiences that produced two distinctively successful architecture practices. For part 1 of the conversation, hop over to ARCADE Magazine, Issue 35.3, available in print and on their website. You’ve both been described as individuals who completely dedicated themselves to the practice of architecture. What has this entailed in your own lives?
Steven Holl: I think for me, architecture was the right thing to do. It’s something you believe in. I never had a doubt. I wasn’t going to do commercial work, but there were doubts I could survive and that’s why teaching was important. Then my firm won some competitions, like the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki in 1993, which
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Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Encouraging better development


[Image by BUILD LLC] Seattle is currently experiencing unprecedented population growth along with record setting development. This is challenging the city’s growth management and it’s bringing city zoning and building code decisions to the forefront of the discussion. As architects and Seattleites deeply concerned with the quality of life and well-being of the communities around us, we’ve been thinking a great deal about the codes and policies that regulate our built environment (or in some instances, don’t it regulate properly). It’s a critical moment in Seattle, and calibrating the city’s policies correctly could result in vibrant neighborhoods that support diversity, inclusion, and quality of life. Conversely, making uninformed decisions or failing to make decisions altogether won’t just result in urban paralysis, it will bleed Seattle of its character and quality of life. In 2014, Seattle launched the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) which gathered the collective research and wisdom
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Desert Palisades Guardhouse by Studio AR+D Architects

                                                <a href="http://design-milk.com/desert-palisades-guardhouse-by-studio-ard-architects/desert-palisades-guardhouse-1/" data-wpel-link="internal"><img src="http://design-milk.com/images/2017/10/Desert-Palisades-Guardhouse-1-810x540.jpg" alt="Desert Palisades Guardhouse by Studio AR+D Architects" /></a>
                                To round out the much anticipated residential development, Desert Palisades, <a href="http://www.studio-ard.com/" data-wpel-link="external"  rel="external noopener noreferrer">Studio AR+D Architects</a> were tasked with designing their 915 square foot <a href="http://www.studio-ard.com/projects/desert-palisades-guardhouse/" data-wpel-link="external"  rel="external noopener noreferrer">guardhouse</a> on the hills overlooking Palm Springs. The natural setting, along with the future homes being built there, were the inspiration for the design – modern, yet industrial to fit in with the rugged landscape. That led to a selection of materials that would not only be timeless, but that would last in the harsh, desert environment.
The design team chose to cantilever the roof out over the driveways and a massive boulder that rests below it. The roof and boulder don’t touch but the design looks as if it was built to accommodate the natural stone. The exaggerated roof line, which spans 34 feet, tests the limits as to what engineering is capable of, almost making you feel as if the modest building might tip over. Steel and
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Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight

There’s a heightened discussion in Seattle lately around the overwhelming population growth the city is facing, along with the increasing demand of the housing necessary to accommodate everyone. The topic of housing (or lack thereof) has become a critical platform for the politicians, a code-red concern for neighborhoods and, if you’re in the design world, it’s the primary topic of discussion at most professional gatherings. The tension on the subject of housing right now in Seattle has reached its boiling point and BUILD will be launching a series of blog posts on the topic to help clarify the issues, give voice to good solutions, and better educate ourselves and our community on the situation. One noticeable aspect that’s confusing the conversation around Seattle’s housing crisis is the lack of consistent information. It seems that every time we get into a discussion about population growth in Seattle, different statistics are declared
Continue reading "Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight"

Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight

There’s a heightened discussion in Seattle lately around the overwhelming population growth the city is facing, along with the increasing demand of the housing necessary to accommodate everyone. The topic of housing (or lack thereof) has become a critical platform for the politicians, a code-red concern for neighborhoods and, if you’re in the design world, it’s the primary topic of discussion at most professional gatherings. The tension on the subject of housing right now in Seattle has reached its boiling point and BUILD will be launching a series of blog posts on the topic to help clarify the issues, give voice to good solutions, and better educate ourselves and our community on the situation. One noticeable aspect that’s confusing the conversation around Seattle’s housing crisis is the lack of consistent information. It seems that every time we get into a discussion about population growth in Seattle, different statistics are declared
Continue reading "Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight"

S2V 2017


[From left to right: Todd Plaunt, Andrew van Leeuwen, Pete Nelson, Michael Smith, Mark Carson, Brian Boram, Kevin Eckert, Albert Shum, Jeff Johnson, Peter Gray, Aaron Pambianco, Paul Jaqua, Chris Mears, Blair Casey, Brandon Boudreaux, Greg Plaunt, Bill Weigand] Something remarkable happened this last summer. Each year, at the end of August, we round up our comrades and ride for two days from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s a chance to close our laptops, get some serious fitness, and spend time with an exceptional crew of individuals, all while enjoying the spectacle of summer in the Pacific Northwest. Like every year, we carefully chose a compelling non-profit organization to direct our contributions to, and, like every year, we called on our community to contribute to that organization. This year we made an especially unreasonable financial goal, doubling our initial pledge, and asked our community to dig deep and give
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A Decade of the BUILD Blog


[Image by BUILD LLC] This post marks the 10 year anniversary of the BUILD Blog. A decade ago this exact week, we launched our very first post. By the end of the month, we’d posted our first of many essays, revealing the heart behind why we started blogging in the first place. Over the past 10 years, the blog has gone through several evolutions. We’ve redesigned it, refocused it, removed the comments section, etc. It’s an ever-evolving endeavor. The blog has served as a space for conversation, sharing, community, information, and humor. And ultimately, we’ve found its highest usefulness comes directly by sharing not just what we’re doing, but how we are accomplishing things.
[BUILD Blog 2007-2009, 2009-2012, 2012-present] Now, approaching this significant milestone in the BUILD Blog’s history, our mission statement we shared five years ago remains as true now as then: make architecture accessible, create a culture of
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The Modern List Seattle


[Original Photo by Alex Garland for Capitol Hill Seattle] Each year, we publish our top picks for the latest places to eat and visit for the design-minded resident or visitor to our fine city. Now with the first of the summer holidays behind us, our city is in full tourist season mode, just in time to release our 11th edition of TML Seattle. COFFEE
Honor Society Coffee / @honorsocietycoffee, 1531 Melrose Ave, 206.859.7554

[Image Credit: Honor Society Coffee]  Union Coffee / @unioncoffeeseattle, 2407 Union Street B, 206.577.7953

[Image Credit: Union Coffee Seattle]  Moonshot Coffee / @moonshotcoffee, 9622 16th Ave SW

[Image Credit: Moonshot Coffee]  Royal Drummer Cafe / @royaldrummer, 6420 24th Ave NW, 206.420.7723

[Image Credit: Anna Brones for Sprudge] BRUNCH | LUNCH
Mr. West Cafe Bar / @mrwestdrinks,
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The Modern List Seattle


[Original Photo by Alex Garland for Capitol Hill Seattle] Each year, we publish our top picks for the latest places to eat and visit for the design-minded resident or visitor to our fine city. Now with the first of the summer holidays behind us, our city is in full tourist season mode, just in time to release our 11th edition of TML Seattle. COFFEE
Honor Society Coffee / @honorsocietycoffee, 1531 Melrose Ave, 206.859.7554

[Image Credit: Honor Society Coffee]  Union Coffee / @unioncoffeeseattle, 2407 Union Street B, 206.577.7953

[Image Credit: Union Coffee Seattle]  Moonshot Coffee / @moonshotcoffee, 9622 16th Ave SW

[Image Credit: Moonshot Coffee]  Royal Drummer Cafe / @royaldrummer, 6420 24th Ave NW, 206.420.7723

[Image Credit: Anna Brones for Sprudge] BRUNCH | LUNCH
Mr. West Cafe Bar / @mrwestdrinks,
Continue reading "The Modern List Seattle"

The Modern List Seattle


[Original Photo by Alex Garland for Capitol Hill Seattle] Each year, we publish our top picks for the latest places to eat and visit for the design-minded resident or visitor to our fine city. Now with the first of the summer holidays behind us, our city is in full tourist season mode, just in time to release our 11th edition of TML Seattle. COFFEE
Honor Society Coffee / @honorsocietycoffee, 1531 Melrose Ave, 206.859.7554

[Image Credit: Honor Society Coffee]  Union Coffee / @unioncoffeeseattle, 2407 Union Street B, 206.577.7953

[Image Credit: Union Coffee Seattle]  Moonshot Coffee / @moonshotcoffee, 9622 16th Ave SW

[Image Credit: Moonshot Coffee]  Royal Drummer Cafe / @royaldrummer, 6420 24th Ave NW, 206.420.7723

[Image Credit: Anna Brones for Sprudge] BRUNCH | LUNCH
Mr. West Cafe Bar / @mrwestdrinks,
Continue reading "The Modern List Seattle"

Designing the College Campus—Past, Present, and Future; An Interview with Rebecca Barnes & Kristine Kenney, Part 2


[Image credit: Kieran Timberlake / Olin] This past winter, BUILD sat down with Rebecca Barnes and Kristine Kenney at the University of Washington in Seattle to discuss the dynamic developments on UW’s campus, designing and planning universities now and in the future, and what Seattle can learn from Boston during this time of major growth. Check out part 1 of the interview in ARCADE Magazine, Issue 35.1, available in print on and their website. The work you are engaged in is much more involved than what most people think of as a typical day in the design profession, involving diplomacy, advocacy, and negotiating. What professional skills were most important to cultivate in order to be successful in your work?
Rebecca Barnes: The key is building and managing relationships; it’s about understanding and communicating with people. I’ve always been interested in that, and it’s what guided me through my
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The Bill Buxton Primer


[Image credit: Microsoft] On May 23rd ARCADE Magazine will host designer, writer, and researcher Bill Buxton for their Spring Salon held at the swanky Cloud Room on Capitol Hill. Bill currently holds the position of Principal Researcher at Microsoft and he’s the closest human we’ve ever met to the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World — only Bill can do it all without the beard. The event is being moderated by our very own Andrew and Kevin, and there’s only 60 seats in the house, so grab your tickets and come join us for an evening of extraordinary design talk, paradigm shifting ideas, and an adult beverage or two. There’s more info about the salon on ARCADE’s blog and Facebook event page. Needless to say, we’re very excited about the event and today’s post is equal parts tribute to Bill Buxton and primer on some of his work,
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Representing the Real, A New Year’s Resolution


[Image by BUILD LLC] Looking back on 2016, we can’t help but acknowledge a tremendous amount of good fortune, incredible work, and inspiring talent in the design industry. It was an exceptional year for the design community and, like many of the firms we know and respect, we feel privileged to have a continued role in designing and constructing the built-environment around us. Alongside an appreciation of the opportunities that the last year created, we’ve also been attentive to trends that continue to worry us. In particular, the ever-increasing sensationalism within the design industry. The architecture profession is now saturated with so much design-hype that it’s increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction. There are the articles that paint the starchitect as the master creative that spends the day sketching one brilliant sketch after the next. And while that may be the case, to some degree this coverage fails to
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Public Art That Does a Lot with a Little


[Image via SeattleRefined] As individuals who spend our days working toward good design, nothing saddens us more than the elaborate and expensive piece of public art that fails to spark joy, neglects the wonder of curiosity, or misses the mark of contemplation. The examples that frustrate us most cost tens of thousands of public dollars, take up valuable space in the city, and consume the energy of the artist commissioned to produce it. More often than not, these pieces simply add visual noise to the built environment. In our own travels and experiences, these pieces fail for numerous reasons. There’s the installation almost entirely dependent on a water feature component which has since been shut off (or broken). There’s the mindless Plop Art — plopped down without any thought to its context or environment. There’s the work that’s simply been overdesigned and overworked. The list goes on. We’ve been getting into
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Public Art That Does a Lot with a Little


[Image via SeattleRefined] As individuals who spend our days working toward good design, nothing saddens us more than the elaborate and expensive piece of public art that fails to spark joy, neglects the wonder of curiosity, or misses the mark of contemplation. The examples that frustrate us most cost tens of thousands of public dollars, take up valuable space in the city, and consume the energy of the artist commissioned to produce it. More often than not, these pieces simply add visual noise to the built environment. In our own travels and experiences, these pieces fail for numerous reasons. There’s the installation almost entirely dependent on a water feature component which has since been shut off (or broken). There’s the mindless Plop Art — plopped down without any thought to its context or environment. There’s the work that’s simply been overdesigned and overworked. The list goes on. We’ve been getting into
Continue reading "Public Art That Does a Lot with a Little"