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.
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”
Weber Thompson has always been interested in helping the environment. For the 4th year in a row, we have taken on the bike month challenge in an effort to reduce the use of cars and encourage healthy living. In previous years we’ve competed against each other in teams. The competitive nature drove us to team costumes and dance exhibitions so we could taunt our co-workers and spur ourselves on to ride more miles than the others.
This year we pulled together as a firm and formed a single team: The WT Wheelies. Our team consisted of 25 participants who rode from as close as 1 mile away to as far as 8 miles away with our farthest teammate riding 378 miles in the month. The team rode over 2600 miles, avoided 2350 pounds of CO2 and burned 131,000 calories! Along the way, we had team outings for happy hours and lunch tours, in which we toured various WT projects, both finished and under construction.
Last week, several dozen third-year industrial design students from the University of Washington, Western Washington University, and the Art Institute of Seattle descended on our office space to transform our office lobby, conference rooms and common areas into a pop-up gallery. The occasion was the end-of-year showcase of Junior Students’ industrial designs, and the second year in a row they used our office for this purpose.
As a firm offering integrated services – that is, landscape, interior design and architecture – we believe that spending time with other designers and artists is a form of creative cross-pollination. It pushes the boundaries of design and keeps our wheels turning. This event offered us the opportunity to observe young minds at work. We hope the students gained something by showing their work in the office of a firm offering creative services.
Student work ran the gamut – from doormats made from cut-up garden hoses to drones designed to deliver first aid supplies to remote villages in need of humanitarian aid. The exhibit was hosted by the Northwest Chapter of IDSA – the Industrial Design Society of America – but was coordinated almost entirely by the students themselves. The show was held at our offices because it provided a neutral location where students from all schools could display their work and celebrate their accomplishments with friends and family. It also offered them a chance to think creatively about space planning and exhibit design, and the challenges of setting up a gallery in a working office space. Continue reading “Industrial Design student show a huge hit”
Last month, the DJC published my article discussing Passive House certification and the design implications in multi-family construction. I used Weber Thompson’s 1300 Pike project in Capitol Hill as a case study. But to better understand the goal of this shift toward Passive House, allow me to pontificate further, with a look at the history of sustainability efforts and how we got to where we are today. Continue reading “How did we get here? The long path to Passive House”
John Stout was recently promoted to Associate at Weber Thompson. He’s a valued member of our High Rise Design Studio, and is currently immersed in the design for Nexus. Learn more about John’s hobbies and interests in this Q&A.
John Stout / Associate, Project Designer
How long have you worked at Weber Thompson and what is your favorite thing about working here?
I have worked at Weber Thompson for almost a year and a half. I have really enjoyed the location, which is in the middle of SLU, and the mass of construction going on around us. I also really enjoy the amount of enthusiasm the staff have about elevating every aspect of our practice, whether that be through our pin-up series, CA lesson learned brown bag sessions or sustainabiliteam initiatives.
What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
970 Denny, a residential tower near our office building, and 1200 Howell (Nexus), a condominium project.
November tends to signal a time for peppermint mochas, couch locked Netflix binges, and a general air of hibernation in the Pacific Northwest. It can feel like all guts and glory when some of us sprint the ten seconds to our cars or spend five minutes huddled at our bus stops, but a group of Weber Thompson bicyclists decided to challenge the winter slowdown.
It’s December 3rd now and we’ve made it through November, the statistically wettest month of the year in the life of a Seattlelite. For the team of ten WT employees that made up the “WT Mossbacks” team, December 3rd also means the end of Cascade Bicycle Club’s “Ride in the Rain” challenge – another successful team building event designed to encourage bicycle commuting, even in the dreary and drizzly conditions that Seattle’s winters can often provide. Continue reading “Battling the drizzle and competing for glory”
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”
Amanda Keating AIA, LEED AP BD+C, was recently made an equity principal at Weber Thompson. She oversees our Mid Rise studio and is passionate about sustainability and green design. Learn more about Amanda on our website.
What is your name & title/role?
Amanda Keating AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal, Mid Rise studio
Share a little about your background.
I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois – just outside of Chicago. I volunteered as a tour guide at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio during High School. My appreciation of the urban built environment is no doubt a result of having grown up in such a culturally and texturally rich place.
How long have you worked at Weber Thompson and why did you begin working here in the first place?
My 10 year anniversary was earlier this summer, 2015. I came to Weber Thompson from a much larger Architecture firm doing work around the country (and world); I wanted to work on projects locally and Weber Thompson was a perfect fit.
What has kept you at Weber Thompson?
Oh my goodness, so many things! The team, the personalities, the talent, the leadership opportunities, the dynamic work that we do and the people we work with. Also, the parties; we know how to throw a great party. Continue reading “Meet the Staff: Amanda Keating”
Above the fold on the front page of The Seattle Times last Friday, Mark Siegel reported on the harm done by highway runoff to our local wildlife, specifically Coho salmon. Researchers from WSU Puyallup found that two and a half hours was all it took to kill adult salmon in water captured from State Route 520. Furthermore, the unique combination of chemicals was difficult to replicate in a lab. To anyone concerned with human impact on the natural world, this highlights the importance of mitigating toxins through new urban development.
Thankfully, the article also proposed a solution. Biofiltration using soil as a medium can have a dramatic effect on salmon’s wellbeing. Early in the design of the Fremont Office Building, the project owner made their intentions clear to Weber Thompson: do what we can to minimize the impact to nearby waterways (both the Fremont Canal and Lake Union are within a stone’s throw of the project site at North 34th Street and Troll Avenue).
As we started to work with our civil engineer, KPFF and better understand the site conditions, we realized that road stormwater runoff – both from Troll Ave and from the Aurora Bridge towering overhead – currently end up in a dedicated storm drain piped to an outfall on Lake Union. It seems hard to believe: brake dust, motor oil, gasoline, heavy metals and who-knows-what-else are getting deposited directly into Lake Union in every major rain event. This is the same lake we all enjoy from water and land – in our sailboats and kayaks; from Eastlake pocket parks and Gas Works Park. More importantly, this is the same lake we share with the salmon on their annual spawning route. This is the reason for the Ballard locks fish ladder – Steelhead, Sockeye, Coho, and Chinook salmon make their way through the locks to Lake Union and then to Lake Washington every year. Continue reading “Saving Salmon One Building at a Time”