The secret ingredient for success: give pedestrians a shortcut

Give pedestrians a shortcut

“…Frequent streets and short blocks are valuable because of the fabric of intricate cross-use that they permit among the users of a city neighborhood.” 

― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Jane Jacobs’ concept of frequent streets and short blocks is one that works its way into a surprising number of Weber Thompson projects in the form of mid-block, pedestrian connectors.

These connecting paths create new and interesting points of access to a neighborhood, and, when done well, provide  shelter safety, and enhanced walkability. For many, the passthroughs create pockets of active space where retail can spill out – linking parallel streets and increasing retail cores.  Here are some of our most recent (and interesting) pedestrian connectors:   

At 4730 California, the main building lobby was pulled deep within the pedestrian corridor to keep ‘eyes on the street’ (another of Jacobs’ concepts) and activate the community-requested passageway. Lushly landscaped and lit with a glowing panel wall, it’s an inviting place to hang out or use as a shortcut through the block. 

At Pike Motorworks, it’s all about the mid-block pedestrian experience. An elaborate passageway, rich with retail, criss-crosses through the site, creating a deep pedestrian canyon overflowing with sculptures (is there more than one?), benches and other amenities. In this public/private realm the pace is just a little bit slower and life can happen at a human scale and pace. 

For South Kirkland TOD, the pedestrian passageway was the centerpiece of the design concept.  An open pathway that leads between parking, transit hub, and housing serves as the connective fabric linking all of the elements together. 

It’s in these areas where residents can live, play and relax. The little conveniences or thoughtful details – like getting from one place to another more quickly, or having a quiet, covered place to sip a cup of coffee – are the details in our projects that can add up to much, much more. 

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Meet the Staff: Jeff Reibman

Weber Thompson Principal Jeff ReibmanPrincipal Jeff Reibman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C recently joined the ownership team at Weber Thompson He has been with the firm for over 11 years and is an integral part of the Mid-rise / Mixed Use Design Studio, but is heavily involved in the business and marketing side of the firm. Learn more about Jeff on our website.




What is your name & title/role?

Jeff Reibman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. Principal

My role is primarily within the Mid-rise / Mixed Use Design Studio working on large, urban infill projects. I’m also involved with HR and I spend a fair amount of time on improving our processes and tools for project management and delivery. Beyond the direct office work, I also volunteer as a member of the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission and as a board member for The Seattle Great City Initiative.

Share a little about your background.

I grew up here in Seattle and on the Eastside; I feel a very strong tie to Seattle and the region. My family has been here for several generations and I see myself as a very Northwest kind of guy. Growing up, we spent a lot of time in the mountains and on the water, as well as in the city itself. I went to schools in both Bellevue and Seattle and graduated from Bellevue High. I left Seattle to attend Architecture school at the University of Oregon in Eugene and also spent half a year in Vail Colorado but I came right home to Seattle to start my career. It’s exciting to play a role in shaping my home town.

How long have you worked at Weber Thompson and why did you begin working here in the first place?

I started here over 11 years ago on April Fool’s day 2004. I had been working for a smaller firm on the eastside for a while and also had my own small design practice on the side but I was feeling really limited. Continue reading

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What are your top five buildings/places in SLU?

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The South Lake Union REI Store near Interstate 5 in South Lake Union.


Weekend after last, I had the pleasure of co-guiding the Seattle Architecture Foundation’s “South Lake Union: Living with Cranes” tour.  Before the start of the tour, I was asked, “what are YOUR top five buildings/places in SLU?”  Given that it changes almost daily, here was my current response:

  1.  REI Flagship store and the Urban Forest – one of the pioneers in the “new” neighborhood, (1996; shortly after the public rejection of the Commons Plan proposal), REI went big, and truly delivered in their ambitions to bring the outdoors to their clientele. (To provide some context, there was no Alley 24, Amazon Campus, MiraBella, Gates Foundation, Alcyone let alone StackHouse, or Mercer Realignment in the works…Fred Hutch had only recently started to build their SLU campus down on Fairview/Eastlake.)

Located at the edge of the neighborhood, it provides the best of both worlds: urban retail, visibility, easy access from the interstate; and a piece of native “wilderness” with the Urban Forest: an amazing retreat from the busyness of downtown, particularly in contrast to the I-5 boundary on the other side of the building.

  1.  Terry Thomas Building – Continuing with the Pioneering theme, this office building was another early entrant to the neighborhood (2008) and incorporated a plethora of passive/sustainable design strategies that sets it apart from its predominantly Amazon-occupied neighbors. Incorporating such strategies as passive ventilation, daylighting, and a central courtyard “stack,” this design went after huge energy-saving concepts in 2008; today’s “NetZero” building designs are only now beginning to catch up.

Continue reading

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Save the Date: Weber Thompson Aloha Party!


Please join us on September 10th in the courtyard of The Terry Thomas to celebrate Weber Thompson Co-Founder Scott Thompson’s career and the passing of the torch.

More details to come.

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Food Frenzy: final results!

During the last events of Food Frenzy Weber Thompson staff gave one final push to raise as much money as possible for Seattle’s hungry children. With a second successful cocktail night, taco party fundraiser, ice cream social and a second bake sale, the Food Frenzy fundraiser came to a close on July 24th.

Surpassing the initial goal of $1,000, WT more than tripled expectations raising an incredible $3,452 over the two week period. There were laughs, groans and by the end, some extra lunch-time running club sessions organized, but all in all, we were thrilled about the contribution we were able to make to such a worthy organization.

The results of the Food Frenzy competition were staggering – 94 participating organizations raised $620,000 dollars, contributed more than 2,100 volunteer hours, and collected 5,000 food items – equaling a total of 3.1 MILLION meals for hungry kids.

Photo by Flickr user Phalinn Ooi.
Photo by Flickr user Phalinn Ooi.

Fundraising throughout the Food Frenzy campaign was mostly fun and games, but it is important to remember and reflect on the real reason that the campaign began in the first place. Child hunger is a relevant and pressing issue and sadly, Washington is the 22nd hungriest state in the nation – 1 in 5 kids live in a household that struggles to put food on the table. Continue reading

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The Terry Thomas has a new tenant: Northeastern University

Northeastern University Seattle campus and office at Weber Thompson designed Terry Thomas buildingSouth Lake Union, home to tech giants, biomedical research institutions and Weber Thompson’s offices is also home to a satellite campus for Northeastern University.

Based in Boston, the top-tier global research university is renowned as a leader in experiential learning. The university utilizes a unique internship-based approach to learning, partnering with global educational and research partners to place students in a series of internships while in school. Typically, this means they have three or more job offers lined up upon graduation. The Seattle campus opened in 2013 and chose SLU as its home base because it’s a hotbed of “new jobs of the future,” says campus Dean, Tayloe Washburn.   Continue reading

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Food Frenzy off to a fabulous, tasty start


On July 10th Weber Thompson kicked off the first day of Food Frenzy, a local food fundraiser campaign supporting the Seattle based non-profit organization: Food Lifeline. From July 10-24th Weber Thompson along with 100 other Seattle firms will be competing in friendly competition to see who can raise the most money in support of the cause. Food Lifeline provides meals during the summer months to kids who rely on free or reduced lunch. The organization provides more than 88,000 meals a day to local food assistance programs and continues to find innovative and sustainable approaches to stopping hunger.


Weber Thompson kicked off the campaign Friday night with a fiesta themed cocktail night. The event featured tasty drinks and a firm-wide cornhole tournament. Intern Brad Untereker took home the victory defeating (former intern, now staff) Leslie Maienschein-Cline in the final match, clenching the first place grand prize. The campaign began with a rousing success, raising over $300 dollars during the first of six events scheduled to occur over the two week long campaign period. Continue reading

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Dewitt Godfrey’s Pike Motorworks custom sculpture wows


If you’ve been down Pike or Pine Street lately, you’ve likely noticed all the new construction happening along this corridor. You may also be familiar with the projects, or perhaps at least the history. This area used to be a series of auto showrooms and dealerships – now known as ‘Auto Row.’

At Weber Thompson’s Pike Motorworks project (714 E. Pike Street), there is a little magic happening that you can’t see from the street. With relatively little street frontage, the project is very inward focused, with outdoor entries off the four surrounding streets designed to draw people into the courtyard at the heart of the project. It is within this courtyard where the magic is happening!

Last week, artist DeWitt Godfrey was in town installing his piece “Capital” which will have a front-and-center location in the courtyard, and can be glimpsed through both the Harvard and Boylston Street entries. Constructed of 18-gauge Cor-Ten steel, the sculpture is a stack of warped and weathered cylinders of different sizes, complimenting the refined industrial aesthetic suggested by the materiality and detailing of the project as a whole. Continue reading

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Meet the Staff: Elizabeth Holland

Elizabeth_HollandElizabeth Holland, MBA, LEED AP, was recently made an equity principal at Weber Thompson. During her tenure, she’s helped the company successfully ride out the industry’s frequent ups and downs. Her business-oriented approach to operations is balanced by close attention to culture and quality, and it is this level-headedness that’s allowed her to thrive at Weber Thompson. Learn more about Elizabeth on our website.



What is your name & title/role?

Elizabeth Holland, Principal (Operations, Finance, Marketing)

Share a little about your background.

I grew up in Oakland California and moved to Seattle to attend UW. I got my undergraduate degree in English and after various retail and temp jobs and a stint in Salem, MA, I got a job working for a graphic design firm in Seattle. I started as the receptionist, but then ended up writing copy for ads and brochures and eventually became their marketing manager. Unfortunately, the bulk of the firm’s work focused on travel companies. So when 9/11 happened, I got to take a spontaneous 13 month vacation.

How long have you worked at Weber Thompson and why did you begin working here in the first place?

I started in 2002 – 13 years ago. A friend of mine (Landscape Architect / Planning Principal and all around fabulous person Catherine Benotto) had recommended me for their PR Director position, Continue reading

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Farmer’s market season is upon us!


In case you missed the signs this past month – dry, warm, and long days – summer is upon us, which means many of Seattle’s farmers markets have started up for the season!

Not only are the farmer’s markets a great opportunity to get the best produce and learn first hand where your food comes from, they are a great way to avoid the intermediate industries that are required with most large grocery stores. Not that this is inherently bad – without them, we wouldn’t get southern hemisphere produce during our off-season or many imports that we are unable to grow locally – but removing them from the local produce equation often means less waste, less cost, and greater profits to the independent farmers that are often marginalized in our high-tech and finance-focused economy.

Last Thursday, June 18th, SLU (& Weber Thompson!) welcomed back the Pike Place Market Express to 410 Terry Ave. Also, new this year is the Terry Ave Market on Saturdays. Just outside The Terry Thomas, it’s a step toward activating South Lake Union on the weekends, which are usually pretty quiet in this employee-dense, resident-light neighborhood.

Check out these other links to find out about the Farmer’s Markets in your area:

U-District/Capitol Hill/West Seattle/Columbia City/Lake City/Phinney/Magnolia:

Queen Anne:


Additionally, if you’re interested in the junction between architecture and food, stay tuned for a blog recap of the SAF Design in Depth lecture on June 9th about this topic. It was a great discussion about how meals and spaces are designed to enhance and develop ‘The Seattle Flavor.’ Weber Thompson was proud to be the Platinum Sponsor of this event.

- Aaron Swain

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