AIA Convention Highlights

Weber Thompson’s Director of Sustainability, Myer Harrell, recently attended the AIA National Conference, where he presented as part of the panel “Living From Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program.” The conference was filled with inspirational speakers and educational programs. Below, he captures some of the highlights.

At the first keynote of A’17 (the 2017 AIA Conference on Architecture), titled Anticipating the Need: Design that Cares, Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena engaged the architect-filled audience by drawing diagrams on a white board to reinforce ideas as he spoke. Continue reading “AIA Convention Highlights”



Meet the Staff: Rachael Meyer

Meet the Staff: Rachael Meyer

Rachael Meyer is Weber Thompson’s new Landscape Architecture Principal. She joined the firm with 13 years of experience creating lush landscapes for residential projects, parks, and public open spaces. Get to know more about Rachael in the Q & A below.

What is your Name & Title/Role 

Rachael Hope Watland Meyer, Weber Thompson’s new Principal of Landscape Architecture

You just joined Weber Thompson as our new Landscape Architecture Principal. What brought you here? 

Weber Thompson is such a great group of collaborative people and awesome projects! As the Landscape Architect on most of the projects in the office I get to work with pretty much everyone and every project. It is such a great opportunity for me!

What about this new role excites you the most? 

I’m excited by the office’s focus on sustainability and pushing each project to do more to improve our environment. It needs to be a driver in everything we do, especially with our urban landscapes.

What has been your favorite project? 

The Bullitt Center and McGilvra Place Park, the first commercial living building and first living park, respectively, have been most influential on how I approach landscape design and team collaboration. These projects were cutting edge in their ultimate design, but also in the process to get there.

Why Landscape Architecture?  Continue reading “Meet the Staff: Rachael Meyer”



Healthy Materials for a Better World

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It’s amazing what humans can achieve when we are faced with a dilemma. Our current environmental predicament has sparked a surge of creativity from designers leading the way to a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow. I’ve been tremendously inspired by the groundbreaking standards put forth by the Living Future Institute, and was excited to attend the Living Product Healthy Materials Summit at the 2016 ILFI unConference.

When I attended the Living Future Conference a few years back, there was a lot of discussion about how difficult it would be to actually meet the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Some felt that it was something they may never be able to achieve. Incredibly, what seemed so difficult to achieve a few years ago has become a new standard in sustainability.

A wide variety of industry professionals presented on how they are implementing the LBC, and using the Declare label to show transparency. With manufacturers and specifiers working together, real change is happening. A presentation on the Healthy Materials Collaborative shed light on the local group of architects and designers working to advocate for healthy building products.

Weber Thompson has been part of the Healthy Materials Collaborative (HMC) since its recent founding. Through the HMC, Weber Thompson has been able to further our sustainability goals and break down barriers to healthy, sustainable buildings. Our tremendous experience with LEED, Built Green, as well as current LBC and Passive House projects is helpful to other HMC members trying to achieve these rigorous building standards.

This year, we are combing through our entire materials library, to make it easier for our designers and architects to specify healthy materials. We are asking manufacturers to show transparency with their products so that we can make informed design decisions. We are also asking manufacturers to label their products with sustainability information so we can easily see which products meet green building standards. Continue reading “Healthy Materials for a Better World”



Lessons from Greenbuild

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Weber Thompson designer John Stout visited Greenbuild in November and returned with a report on the conference.

“Monumental Green” the slogan of the 2015 Greenbuild conference in DC, played both off the location of the conference and the underlying theme present in many of the speakers’ messages. The upcoming UN climate change conference in Paris, and their new dedication of an entire day to the building industry, marks a shift in worldwide culture and a realization that the built environment plays a pivotal role in the future of our economy and climate. But there is still much work to do – a theme apparent in sessions that predicted what is to come in the next 100 years.

In one presentation in particular, titled “Buildings of the Future: Visions to Guide Decision Making” a panel of speakers representing green research, consulting, and green technology presented a vision of what the next 100 years might bring. Our industry must combat climate change head on, while also adapting to rising temperatures and ever growing extremes in weather and sea level. Our resolution must shift from reactive to proactive, strides must be made not only in energy efficiency, but in human comfort, water efficiency, and resiliency. Our buildings must become adaptive to human comfort, responding to our preferences, utilizing wearable tech and micro sensors to map and adjust comfort levels only where needed. Retrofits and the concept of plug and play must permeate our building industry so buildings can evolve and update as quickly as software. Continue reading “Lessons from Greenbuild”



Elan Uptown Flats and the renaissance of the front porch

A Quick History of the Front Porch

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Take a stroll through any established residential neighborhood in Seattle and you will see porches on the majority of houses. A commodity in the mid-1800s until the 1950s, the front porch was popular for many reasons. The ideal front porch was large enough to accommodate seating for a number of people, stood a few steps above street level, and afforded protection from the elements while still capturing cool breezes in the summer. The front porch was where home life happened: a place to socialize with neighbors, visitors, and family members; a light-filled extension of the home; a vantage point affording views through the neighborhood; a safe, liminal space between public and private. It put “eyes on the street”- a famous phrase from Jane Jacobs- promoting community safety through social capital in urban communities. It was not uncommon for people to know their neighbors and socialize with them on a regular basis: the front porch was the architectural mediator in the community.

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The ubiquitous front porch faded from popularity with the rise of new technologies. Radio and television provided a new source of entertainment for families, pulling them indoors. Continue reading “Elan Uptown Flats and the renaissance of the front porch”



Living Future 2015 unConference Recap

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Earlier this month, several representatives from Weber Thompson attended the Living Future unConference, a three-day forum for discussing sustainable design solutions to global social and environmental issues. The annual conference brings together some of the most progressive minds in the building industry and provides a dizzying mix of inspirational speeches, technical charrettes and heated panel discussions. Continue reading “Living Future 2015 unConference Recap”



The Difficulty of Quantifying Green Design

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What is the value of green design? How do we quantify it? How do we sell it to project owners, operators, investors and tenants? 

In today’s Green Building special section of the Daily Journal of Commerce, Weber Thompson Senior Associate Myer Harrell AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Homes, raises some questions in search of making a business case for green. We know green buildings are better buildings, but can we prove they make good financial sense as well? Continue reading “The Difficulty of Quantifying Green Design”



‘Leadership Jazz’ at Greenbuild 2014

With more than 30 LEED accredited professionals on staff, there’s always at least one Weber Thompson attendee at Greenbuild, the USGBC annual international conference and expo. This year in New Orleans, Myer Harrell represented the team and gathered as much of-the-moment information about green building as he was able. Here are a few of his thoughts.

This year’s theme at Greenbuild was ‘Leadership Jazz,’ which was woven throughout the many seminars, lectures, and activities held throughout the week. Special Set sessions have gained momentum as a format – forty sessions were offered with enhanced room layouts, audio/visual support, and technology to further engage the audience, as well as additional guidance from volunteers and staff leading up to the event. Additionally, discussions of social equity permeated many conversations. For example, pilot credits in LEED were announced in a session titled “Getting Credit for Doing Good.” Continue reading “‘Leadership Jazz’ at Greenbuild 2014”



Beignets and green buildings: the Greenbuild Program Working Group retreat

Image by Flickr user ChuckYeager.
Image by Flickr user ChuckYeager.

Earlier this month I spent a few days in New Orleans, and not just for the beignets at Cafe Du Monde (although I had some of those, too). This was a retreat with the Greenbuild Program Working Group (PWG), which “oversees the development and delivery of educational programming intended to meet the needs of attendees to the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo,” the US Green Building Council’s annual conference since 2002. As a Silver member company of USGBC, Weber Thompson boasts thirty-five LEED APs and GAs out of fifty-eight employees; a number of whom have attended multiple Greenbuilds.

The session selection process is rigorous; there are at least four rounds of review each year before the 100+ educational sessions are finalized. The first round is a raw score by volunteers on an online platform (the call for this usually goes out around Greenbuild each year, so mark your calendar for November 2014 to apply). The second round is a qualitative review by subject matter experts, facilitated by the PWG. The third round is amongst PWG members who meet in person in Spring in the host city of Greenbuild. Continue reading “Beignets and green buildings: the Greenbuild Program Working Group retreat”



Sharing lessons and successes from SKTOD

Parking Garage at SKTOD designed by Weber Thompson.

Planners, Architects, and Developers came together yesterday in Bellevue to hear WT Senior Associate, Mindy Black, present at the Washington APA conference. The session was a panel presentation about the South Kirkland Transit Oriented Development and included three other speakers: Gary Prince, King County Metro TOD Manager; Janice Coogan, Senior Planner with the City of Kirkland; and Paul Inghram, Comprehensive Planning Manager for the City of Bellevue. Continue reading “Sharing lessons and successes from SKTOD”