Responding to a Board-identified need and excitement for new Seattle Architecture Foundation neighborhood-based programming, this program proposal is the culmination of an in-depth process of open and honest dialogue with community leaders and design professionals on how SAF could most benefit Seattle neighborhoods. On behalf of SAF, I met with a total of 26 individuals representing 23 organizations across six Seattle neighborhoods to advise on what a new neighborhood-based program needs to achieve. The program proposed here aims to further SAF’s mission of connecting people to the architecture and design of Seattle and empower individuals to make a difference in their communities.
Over the course of the summer I learned a great deal about the issues effecting Seattle neighborhoods and what a neighborhood program should try to accomplish. This proposal focuses on the one program that best addresses the most commonly voiced themes of importance by community leaders. A longer report detailing community feedback was presented to SAF staff.
COMMUNITY LEADERS HOPE THAT A NEW SAF NEIGHBORHOOD PROGRAM WILL FOCUS ON:*
Design professionals and community leaders are tired of the (often) negative dialogue around architecture and design. SAF could help reframe this dialogue to focus on what people do like about their changing neighborhoods.
PRO-ACTIVE DESIGN SOLUTIONS
Currently too much of the dialogue around design is reactionary. Residents complain about the heights of the new condo towers going up in their neighborhoods as they are being built, when they should have been at the zoning meetings that made these heights possible in the first place. A new SAF program could help residents be pro-active when it comes to the design of their neighborhoods.
Seattle residents are weary of being asked their opinions on matters without the promise of their wants and needs being translated into outcomes. SAF needs to give residents the tools and resources on how to turn their opinions into actions.
The most common means of connecting design professionals to the public is through community council and design review board meetings, both of which are (typically) viewed as negative experiences by all involved. It’s recommended that SAF offer programming that connects the public to design professionals in a fun, open and positive way.
WELCOMING NEWCOMERS TO SEATTLE
Seattle’s population is growing rapidly and many are conflicted about it. SAF might help combat the Seattle “freeze” with programming that welcomes these newcomers.
INSPIRING PEOPLE OF COLOR TO BECOME ARCHITECTS
Architecture, as a profession, should reflect more diversity. SAF should continue to make every effort to inspire young girls and people of color to join the design field by recruiting women and architects of color to lead design activities in underserved neighborhoods.
*While other themes of importance were raised in community discussions, this list only features themes that were mentioned on more than one occasion.
NEIGHBORHOOD EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Centering on themes of positive change and proactive design solutions, the Neighborhood Exchange Program connects community leaders to each other and to design professionals in a fun and welcoming atmosphere. This proposed series of neighborhood programs focuses on the best of Seattle’s changing built environment. SAF will play the role of matchmaker, organizing behind-the-scenes experiences of community-driven projects, featuring the key people involved in making them happen, and targeted to community leaders who might consider implementing similar projects in their own neighborhoods. Programs will be designed around community-based issues, and will incorporate time for discussions where community leaders across the city can offer their input around the day’s topic. Following each program, everyone will be invited to continue the conversation at a local bar.
This program received board approval, and has grown into a popular monthly series for the SAF. Read about their most recent Neighborhood Exchange programs here.
The idea for this program first came from a meeting with Amanda Bryan of the Central Area’s Land Use Review Committee and was further inspired by the great work of a colleague, Krisann Rehbein, former Senior Manager of Public and Community Engagement at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS INFORMED THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PROPOSAL:
Alliance for Pioneer Square, Liz Stenning
Ballard Historical Society, Mary Schile
Capitol Hill Housing, Katie Porter
CityClub, Diane Douglas
Central Area Land Use Review Committee, Amanda Bryan
El Centro, Estela Ortega
FeetFirst, Lisa Quinn
Goodspeed Architecture, Jim Goodspeed
Great City, Kyler Danielson
Hack the CD, David Harris
Historic Seattle, Brooke Best and Larry Kreisman
InterIM ID, Joann Ware
MOHAI, Karin Moughamer
National Trust Green Lab, Mike Powe
Perkins + Will, Mike Austin (Seattle Planning Commission)
Plymouth Housing Group, Kimberly Harrell and Theresa Hohman
Schemata Workshop, Grace Kim (Seattle Planning Commission)
SCIDpda, Cara Bertron
Seattle Public Library, Davida Ingram
South Lake Union Art Walk, Dena Lee
SvR Design, Amanda Bailey and Brice Maryman
Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Chris Moore
Y at Cascade People’s Center, Hannah Holtgeerts