The Weber Thompson office is full of talented, passionate individuals who care about the issues surrounding our city. Last month a few of these individuals stepped up to help us participate in the Housing Development Consortium’s (HDC) 2017 Affordable Housing Week. The week took place from May 15th-22nd and focused on the growing issue of affordability and livability in Seattle. Continue reading ““Rad Row House”: A Musical Celebration of Affordable Housing Week”
A little over three years ago, Bellwether Housing invited Weber Thompson to partner in the design and development of a piece of land owned by University Christian Church (UCC). In collaboration with Compass Alliance Housing, Bellwether Housing has been helping the church parishioners realize a dream – sparked in the 1960’s – of transforming their parking lot into affordable housing. Continue reading “Arbora Court: A dream decades in the making begins to come true”
This week we sent out a newsletter highlighting our 2017 Impact Initiatives. Continue reading “Explore Our Impact Initiatives for 2017 & Beyond”
During the Seattle Design Festival Block Party, Weber Thompson hosted an interactive VR experience called SEAtopia. The SEAtopian world looks to a future cast through the lens of science fiction to frame the inherent challenges influencing contemporary urban design and place making. Through the eyes of characters in this dystopic (or utopic?) version of Seattle, users were able to imagine a fictional environment that depicts how climate change, density, and economic forces might affect our city’s future. Continue reading “Seattleites are Generally Optimistic About Seattle’s Future”
On September 20th, Weber Thompson joined Bellwether Housing, members of the University Christian Church congregation, public officials, and community members to celebrate the groundbreaking of Arbora Court.
Years in the making, this new affordable family housing project will be home to individuals and families living in 133 units. The location is ideal – close to transit stops, grocery stores, a farmers market, medical facilities and other community amenities in the University District of Seattle. The site was formerly a parking lot owned by the University Christian Church, but was sold to Bellwether Housing so it could eventually be transformed into affordable housing. Continue reading “Breaking Ground at Arbora Court”
As Architects and designers in Seattle, we see how a demand for housing in our city is affecting cost and availability, and contributing to an increase in homelessness. According to the 2016 “One Night Count” there were 10,047 people homeless in King County on January 29th, 2016, and 4,505 without shelter (statistics that are widely considered undercounts). Weber Thompson cares deeply about community, and as people who design shelter for a living, we asked ourselves, “What more can we do to help with this issue?” When we learned about the Low Income Housing Institute’s (LIHI) Tiny House work, we were inspired by their program and jumped at the chance to become more involved.
LIHI is dedicated to serving a wide variety of populations through a number of programs, including the operation of four (and growing) homeless encampments across the city for sheltering homeless families and individuals. LIHI’s encampments offer an improvement over the conditions of non-regulated encampments by providing safe and secure temporary housing, with access to services that can help homeless residents work to secure more permanent housing. LIHI’s village encampments are democratic and self-managed, have strict codes of conduct, include resident background checks, and work with communities to conscientiously integrate encampments into neighborhoods across the city. LIHI’s villages provide space for tent shelters and also Tiny Houses.
Tiny Houses are small, simple, sturdy sleeping structures. The structures have an open floor plan of about 8’x12’, a window, a lockable door, and may provide shelter for individuals, couples and families of up to four. The structures do not typically include power or water; these services are provided on site as a shared resource. Likewise, a common kitchen is used by residents for meals, as the tiny houses have no cooking facilities. LIHI already offers Tiny House assembly instructions (available to any community group interested in providing a unit) and Weber Thompson saw an opportunity to utilize our design skill sets to build upon LIHI’s Tiny House prototype. Continue reading “Small but Mighty: Making a Big Impact with Tiny Houses”
I recently had the pleasure of attending the grand opening for Raven Terrace, which marks the second completed low-income, multifamily building in Seattle’s Yesler Terrace neighborhood. While the completion of great multi-family projects is work as usual here at Weber Thompson, this project has special significance to me personally and also for the city of Seattle.
Three years ago, Weber Thompson hired me as a part of their high rise studio. However, due to shifting project schedules my first role was project designer on Raven Terrace. I was excited to tackle something new and different. While I had volunteered with Habitat for Humanity before, my familiarity with “government housing” was somewhat antiquated. I quickly learned Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) takes the design quality of their projects seriously. To ensure our team’s design could respond to the community the building would serve, SHA shepherded meetings for us with the Yesler Terrace neighborhood and future building tenants. Understanding the backgrounds and stories from the neighborhood enriched the building design and better equipped us to serve the residents. Furthermore, with sweeping views of the city and Mount Rainier, the site held plenty of potential for something exceptional. Most importantly though, SHA’s vision for evolving a healthy, vibrant and accessible community in the heart of Seattle drove the success of Raven Terrace. Continue reading “From paper to reality: Watching Raven Terrace come to life”
On Thursday, October 8th, Weber Thompson team members and guests attended Bellwether Housing’s annual Closer to Home fundraising breakfast at Benaroya Hall.
After some early morning mingling and coffee, the program began with opening remarks from Doug Daley, Bellwether’s new Executive Director. Marc Stiles of the Puget Sound Business Journal moderated the main event: a powerful panel of three speakers who’ve relied on the affordable housing that Bellwether provides.
One resident had been a hard working sous-chef with two full time jobs, saving to open his own business when he was struck and disabled by a drunk driver. Unable to work and forced to live on a very limited income, this proud man was able to stay in the city, with the dignified living standards he deserves. He remains close to his community and his many doctors rather than being forced out away from the care he needs or even into homelessness through no fault of his own.
Another current resident told of her important but low paying work in community health for a local non-profit. Bellwether Housing allows her to live close to her job, within the community she serves. Unlike many of her peers, she now has no fear of being priced out due to rising rents.
Finally, a former resident told a similar story. Young and new to the area, trying to get a foothold in Seattle, she was able to live in the city near her non-profit job thanks to Bellwether Housing. Now she’s further along in her career and more established, but she and her family face new challenges in affordability as they save for home ownership.
The breakfast event was attended by 275 early risers and raised over $139,000 to support affordable housing and help create more stories like the ones above.
As an advocate level sponsor of the event, we at Weber Thompson are proud to support such a worthy cause. Bellwether Housing is a valued client of ours, and events such as this are a good reminder why we get up in the morning to do what we do.
Special thanks to our staff members and guests who attended:
Alistair Jackson, O’Brien and Company
Catherine Benotto, Weber Thompson
Kris Draper, Morrison Hershfield
Lukas Hovee, 360 Analytics
Mike Nouwens, Nouwens Structural Consultants
Mindy Black, Weber Thompson
Noelle Dobry, Weber Thompson
Rae Anne Rushing, Rushing Engineers
Stacy Segal, Seattle Architecture Foundation
Thank you all so much for your generosity. We look forward to another great event next year.
– Jeff Reibman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Principal, Weber Thompson
2015 Closer to Home Table Captain
Five Weber Thompson staff and five guests joined 700 others in support of affordable housing at the Housing Development Consortium’s 7th annual member celebration luncheon.
The HDC is a non-profit organization whose mission we strongly support: to promote collaboration and cooperation among the many different people and agencies working to meet the housing needs of limited income residents throughout King County. Providing access to safe, affordable housing is a cause we are passionate about and are dedicated to supporting. Continue reading “A home for all: Supporting affordable housing in King County”
The Terry Thomas inspires local artist
Lisa Daniels, a local artist who creates paintings inspired by architectural spaces, toured The Terry Thomas a couple of months ago. Many details caught her eye and she decided to do multiple paintings. She recently completed one and plans to do two more. The finished piece is a 36” x 48” acrylic painting hanging in the Seattle office of DCI Engineers. Thank you Lisa; we’re flattered that our building inspired you. See more of Lisa’s work at www.ldanielsart.com
Tis the season for sharing!
Weber Thompson employees have banded together to give fifteen children (in seven families) a very happy holiday this year. In total, nearly $2,500 worth of gift cards for toys and groceries will be donated to these families via the YWCA. Thank you to Christina Stewart for pioneering the effort in our office, and for encouraging the high rise and mid-rise/low rise teams to also get involved. Most of all, we hope the effort makes the season a little brighter for a few families in need.
Catherine Benotto appointed to Mayor’s Advisory Committee
Landscape Architecture Principal Catherine Benotto was recently appointed to Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee. The committee will seek to identify and evaluate policy options to create more available housing for people all along the income spectrum. They will explore innovative ideas to pilot new types of housing, study the impact of ADU’s, analyze efforts to preserve existing affordable housing, and more. By May of next year, the committee will deliver a set of recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.
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