Breaking Ground at Arbora Court

Breaking Ground at Arbora Court

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”

Small but Mighty: Making a Big Impact with Tiny Houses

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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”

WT Food Frenzy: Office Happy Hour

On July 8th, Weber Thompson began participating in Food Frenzy, a friendly competition to raise money for Food Lifeline. The competition engages employees of local businesses to volunteer, raise funds or collect food to do their part in helping to end hunger. Food Frenzy runs through next Friday, July 22nd, and Weber Thompson has committed to raising at least $1,000 in support of the effort.

On Thursday, July 14th, Weber Thompson turned the outdoor courtyard into a carnival-themed happy hour. Employees were encouraged to help raise money by buying raffle tickets, cocktails, snacks and by playing carnival-themed games.

The office annex was host to the happy hour bar and raffle ticket table. The bar featured a selection of snacks, delicious cocktails and boozy SnoCups that brightened everyone’s Thursday afternoon. The mango-coconut rum SnoCup was an overwhelming crowd favorite. There was also a wide variety of raffle prizes to choose from, including gift cards donated by local businesses, bottles of wine, employee parking spots and a one-hour personal photo session, to name a few. Continue reading “WT Food Frenzy: Office Happy Hour”

WT Wheelies Raise $900 for Bikeworks

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.

Why, if not to compete with each other, would we work so hard? For the KIDS! Continue reading “WT Wheelies Raise $900 for Bikeworks”

Industrial Design student show a huge hit

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”

Arcade Issue 34.1 Launch Party: Reflections on Influence

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Arcade Magazine is one of our region’s finest publications about architecture, design and culture. Each issue is filled with inspiring stories and essays, and it’s always a delight to leaf through the uncoated pages.

On May 26th, the magazine will release their newest issue, Reflections on Influence. We are pleased to be an event sponsor of this community gathering, which will take place at Pike Motorworks, in the future home of Redhook Brewery’s first Capitol Hill location.

We hope you will join us as we make a toast to independent journalism, design, influence and community. Continue reading “Arcade Issue 34.1 Launch Party: Reflections on Influence”

Meet the Staff: Myer Harrell

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Myer Harrell is Weber Thompson’s Director of Sustainability and was recently promoted to Principal. We learned a little more about Myer in this Q & A and were delighted to learn a few new things about him we didn’t know. Keep reading to see for yourself, or you can also read his bio on our website

Myer Harrell AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Homes / Principal, Director of Sustainability

How long have you worked at Weber Thompson and what is your favorite thing about working here?

I’ve been here just over ten years. My favorite thing about working here is how “flat” the firm feels. By that, I mean principals and partners don’t have corner offices, everyone is approachable. All are respectful, validating, accommodating and appreciative of coworkers no matter what their formal title. The feeling of hierarchy is minimized, and there is very little “command and control” style of management.

What project(s) are you working on at the moment?

Most of my time is on the Fremont Office Building, a very exciting, sustainable boutique office building in the heart of Fremont that just started construction. The LEED Gold Core & Shell project features enhanced daylighting, an efficient HVAC system, and innovative stormwater strategies, reaching beyond the project site to clean up water from the Aurora Bridge before it reaches Lake Union.

You were recently promoted! What does this mean to you?

To me, one difference in my title is how I present myself outside the firm to collaborators and clients. As a principal, I now feel like a “flag-bearer” of the firm in a slightly different way. I also feel a greater sense of responsibility to resolve difficult situations – with clients, consultants, and internally – diplomatically, transparently, completely, in a way I feel is befitting of a firm leader. Continue reading “Meet the Staff: Myer Harrell”

The Center for Architecture and Design Celebrates Its Grand Opening

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After much hard work and community support, the Center for Architecture and Design opens its doors for a Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, March 5th. Weber Thompson is proud to be a donor for this remarkable project, standing alongside 150+ other companies and individuals who have contributed to making the Center a possibility. Created through a unique partnership between AIA Seattle, Seattle Architecture Foundation, Design in Public, and AIA Washington Council, the Center aims to serve as Seattle’s design hub. The space will be thriving with hundreds of programs, exhibitions, and conversations across all design disciplines throughout the year. Continue reading “The Center for Architecture and Design Celebrates Its Grand Opening”