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”
In the summer of 2016 Weber Thompson started with a simple idea: to design, build, and donate basic shelter for a family in need through the Low Income Housing Institute’s (LIHI) Tiny House program. How hard could it be for a few architects to build an 8’ x 12’ structure over a few weekends, right? Continue reading “It Takes a Village”
There’s a strong connection between reading and brain development in children and adults, and the studies show that the benefits of reading and literacy are even more pronounced for low-income individuals. Back in March, I joined a handful of Weber Thompson employees at the Housing Development Consortium luncheon at the Washington State Convention Center. The guest speaker at the luncheon was Johnathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities, The Shame of the Nation, and Amazing Grace. He’s worked with teachers and children in America’s cities for more than 50 years and has extensively written and lectured about the subject. Continue reading “Supporting Lifelong Learning at Raven Terrace”
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”
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”
Weber Thompson’s participation in the 2016 Food Frenzy competition came to end last Friday in a sweet and delectable fashion. On Monday, July 18th, the office held a bake sale in the lobby and last Friday, July 22nd, the fun concluded with an ice cream social in the office. The Weber Thompson team participated by bringing in homemade baked goods, desserts from local businesses and by purchasing “build your own” ice cream sundaes with unlimited toppings. Continue reading “WT Food Frenzy: A Fantastic Finale”
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”
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”
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”