Arbora Court: A dream decades in the making begins to come true

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”



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”



Closer to Home: bringing more affordable housing to Seattle

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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



A home for all: Supporting affordable housing in King County

Mindy Black and Jeff Reibman enjoying the HDC Luncheon photo booth.
Mindy Black and Jeff Reibman enjoying the HDC Luncheon photo booth.

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”



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”



Housing affordability | WT staff adopt families | Terry Thomas inspires local artist

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

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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.

You can share your opinions by completing this short survey.

 



Affordable housing best practices

Allegro townhomes in the affordable neighborhood of Rainier Vista in Columbia City, Seattle.
Allegro at Columbia City, designed by Weber Thompson.

On Wednesday, October 9th, Weber Thompson Principal Jeff Reibman will participate in a panel discussion of best practices and lessons learned for affordable housing construction during ‘Biggest Bang for your Buck: Round 3’ at the Housing Washington 2013 conference in Spokane. For the last 18 years he’s worked in the Seattle area on residential design of all kinds, with an emphasis on larger scale condominiums, apartments, and senior housing projects. The focus of his session will be on cost effective solutions for horizontal waterproofing including roofing, decks and plaza construction.  It will include product information, design tips, installation best practices, and long-term maintenance considerations. Recommendations will be provided to help guide decision making from the perspective of cost, long-term durability, ease of maintenance and sustainability.

Housing Washington is a nationally recognized annual conference on affordable housing—a dynamic forum for learning, discussion, networking and collaboration. This two-day event features a lively sponsor showcase, top-notch speakers, special events, and an awards ceremony. To learn more and register for the conference, visit about the Housing Washington 2013 website.



$200 million for homes

WLIHA Logo In this holiday season it is prudent to raise our voices in support of housing for those who are not as fortunate. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance has taken the initiative to advocate for the renewal of the state Housing Trust Fund signifying a $200 million investment in the state’s 2011-2013 biennium budget. In the spirit of the squeaky wheel gets the grease a petition has been circulated to document support for the funding. Key social and sustainable justification for the budget includes the following points.

  • Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, decent, affordable home.
  • It should be possible for working people to afford housing and still have enough money for basics like groceries, gas and child care.
  • Children deserve a chance to succeed in school and in life, which all begins with their family being able to afford a decent place to live.
  • It’s better for society, the environment, and families if people can afford to live close to where they work.

Additionally the budget would result in a $1 Billion dollar Jobs Program for economic stimulus related to the Trust projects which will have a positive impact on our local economy. Continue reading “$200 million for homes”