Nancy Rottle + Paul Olson
Study Abroad Program
Equitable Public Space, Environmental Justice Through Policy and Design (PDF) is a practical guide for community and civic leaders, city planners, policy makers, designers and project managers to address public space inequities and disparities in community conditions within the built environment. This guide explores the question of how the myriad benefits offered by public and green space can be fairly distributed and tailored to the specific needs and desires of a community, while also ensuring that people who most need these benefits are able to “stay in place” to experience them. Green Futures Lab Interns Adam Carreau (MLA ’19) and Margot Chalmers (MLA ’18) probed this question, identifying and illustrating the documented benefits of public space and access to nature, and exploring the potential pitfalls of implementing policies, plans and places without leadership from the communities being impacted.
In this document, Adam and Margot present considered perspectives on social equity in the dynamic urban context; potentials and case studies of tensions between efforts to uplift neighborhoods and unintended resulting displacement, processes for community participation, empowerment and stabilization; and tools and case study lessons that planners, designers and citizen activists can employ to equitably promote community health, prosperity, and well-being
Scan|Design Master’s Studio
The Capitol Hill neighborhood is known for its hip bars, cultural diversity, historic mansions, and steep streets. With its reputation for being Seattle’s coolest neighborhood, the addition of the light rail station, and corporate growth in nearby South Lake Union, is rapidly intensifying, bringing both opportunities and challenges to this urban, but historically residential neighborhood. The community values public space for informal and celebratory social events, and organizations are working to increase both the amount of green space available and commercial corridors to support vibrant, local businesses. However, population growth also increases demands on the city’s infrastructure, such as the stormwater system.
Capitol Hill’s urban hydrology is unique in that the neighborhood is surrounded by water bodies on three sides, which receives stormwater draining from the hill’s contaminated streets, roofs, and in severe rain events, its sanitary sewers. The goal of this year’s studio was to enhance the public realm of Capitol Hill while also lessening the impact of stormwater runoff through innovative designs. Our experiences in Copenhagen and Malmö inspired our efforts to design equitable, sustainable, and porous public spaces that embrace stormwater as a potential civic asset.
This year marks the twelfth Scan|Design Interdisciplinary Master Studio and we would like to give special thanks to the Scan|Design Foundation for their continued support of this extraordinary opportunity. The immersive relationship between life in Seattle and Copenhagen would not be possible without our Master Teacher, Louise Grassov; we are so thankful for her guidance and talent, from which our students benefit greatly both in Copenhagen and during her visit to Seattle.
This year we had the opportunity to once again partner with the Seattle 2030 District, an initiative to create efficient, sustainable, and resilient cities; we especially thank Steven Fry for his insight and participation in panels and reviews. We also worked with the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict’s Public Life project, which collects data to inform equitable planning for holistic public spaces; we especially thank Erin Fried who gave students feedback, hosted our final review, and made our final exhibit at 12th Avenue Arts possible. Both Steven and Erin will continue to use this student work to inform and inspire sustainable development in Capitol Hill moving forward. Finally, we sincerely thank all of our reviewers from our professional community who volunteered their time to support students’ ideas, progress, and visions.
Interdisciplinary Graduate Studio
Study Abroad in New Zealand
In partnership with the University of Washington, a team of College of Built Environments graduate students (from Landscape Architecture, Architecture, and Urban Planning) embarked on a 10-week study abroad program in Christchurch, New Zealand. Following the 2010/2011 earthquakes and ongoing rebuild processes, students sought to study and most importantly learn from the city’s approach to post-earthquake recovery and resilience planning/design. The program, which ran from January to March 2019, provided a unique opportunity to leverage multidisciplinary thinking and place-based narratives to contribute to the community’s growing body of knowledge.
Based on Regenerate Christchurch’s plan to reinvigorate the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor and the organization’s desire to weave in a cultural trail, students endeavored to uncover the stories and themes that could be told along the river. We hope the ideas contained in this booklet—which range from conceptual designs to activities/programs—inspire imagination and provide the foundation for what’s next.
The cultural trail we have proposed has taken many forms—they range from trails of activities and programs to digital signage to collections of memories. The common thread that weaves them all together is a distinct effort to honor the past, present, and future of the river. The following proposals are not possible without a clean and healthy river, so let’s celebrate its value by stewarding it for future generations.
Explore the full Ōtākaro/Avon Studio Book.
These are questions we explored throughout the 2018 studio, using the 15th Ave. East commercial node as a case study for our analyses, urban theory-based investigations, planning and design explorations. Our work was grounded in the expressed wishes of the local neighborhood residential and commercial community, garnered through a workshop in Spring of 2018 that was sponsored and documented by the local interdisciplinary planning and design firms of Board and Vellum, and Environmental Works. The workshop asked, “What are your best ideas for the future of 15th Ave. East? Participants addressed safety, green space, small businesses, job development and thoughtful density and also drew their ideas on overlays of existing street elevations.
Our studio explored how we can address these desires, and bring our own sensibilities, research and design talents to propose policies, plans, designs and guidelines for improvements to the street and public realm, and to the possibilities for transitioning sites located along this current commercial stretch. Inspired by our experiences in Copenhagen and Malmo, we considered how to apply the Gehl and Schulze + Grassov methods for studying public space; to design invitations that build vibrant neighborhood social life by encouraging staying in the public realm of streets, plazas, parks and leftover spaces; and to innovate exemplary design that is equitable, ecological, and climate-resilient. Throughout the term, we worked with professionals from Board and Vellum and Environmental Works, as well as residents, business owners, city staff, and local architects and landscape architects.
Inspired by our experiences of Copenhagen’s and Malmö’s planning policies and design trials for sustainable and climate resilient cities, the 2017 Scan|Design Master Studio worked with the Seattle 2030 District and the Belltown Community to begin to answer these questions. We explored district planning frameworks that could be useful in integrating these questions into their planning processes. We developed design ideas and typologies to inspire retrofit of streets, urban spaces and buildings that employ natural processes to create a more liveable district, while solving the basin’s stormwater issues and considering future City water and wastewater demands. We had the unique opportunity to work directly with people engaged in ongoing initiatives for Belltown: with a diverse array of community stakeholders and professionals who have been engaged in neighborhood planning processes over past months and years, and with urban habitat and green stormwater proponents; with Seattle Public Utilities at the beginning of their process investigating solutions to the basin’s combined sewer overflows; and with the 2030 District’s visionary goals and progress for reducing peak stormwater discharge and potable water use.
Guided by principles developed by Gehl Architects and Schulze + Grassov, we devised approaches to cultivate and enrich public life — both moving through, and staying in, the public realm of streets, plazas, parks and leftover spaces of the Belltown project area. Additionally, we worked at district, site and detail scales to use urban design to address climate change impacts through:
Advanced Graduate Studio
The City of Copenhagen is currently focusing on three primary initiatives: urban renewal for select identified neighborhoods; climate adaptation interventions to alleviate flooding, heat island, and biodiversity impacts; and incorporation of urban nature – with integration of these three initiatives as an overarching goal.
For the 2016 Scan|Design Master Studio we worked with these objectives in mind, on a Copenhagen district and site surrounding an existing and expanding transit hub for the “S” commuter train, new Metro, major bus stop, and bicycle superhighway. The intersection also serves as a cultural, community gathering, and shopping center for the surrounding population, comprised of a changing mix of immigrants, gypsies, students, and ethnic Danes. We applied site program ideas from our travels, including studies of transit centers, “cloudburst” (stormwater) management approaches, cultural facilities, streets and bicycle infrastructure, markets, parks and gardens. Guided by principles developed by Gehl Architects, and their offspring of Schulze + Grassov, we considered approaches to cultivate and enrich public life — both moving through, and staying in, the public realm of streets, plazas, markets and leftover spaces of this site. Additionally, we worked at district, site and detail scales to use urban design to address climate change impacts, through:
• addressing social and cultural needs and amenities to cultivate social resilience
• exploring opportunities to insert urban nature for biodiversity resilience and human health; and
• artfully integrating water into the cityscape for hydraulic function and human
During the term, our Master Studio benefited from the involvement of Louise Grassov, formerly with Gehl Architects and now with her own firm, Schulze + Grassov. Throughout the quarter, we reflected upon the Copenhagen study tour by referenced examples from our travels while employing and expanding on Gehl’s and Shulze + Grassov’s public life / public space principles.
During our 2015 studio, we worked with ILFI’s framework and the organization’s designated First Hill Living Community. We applied the framework to a subdistrict and site that is adjacent to Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, and at the nexus of several diverse urban communities: the Squire Park Neighborhood, Little Saigon, Yesler Terrace, a substantial homeless population, Seattle University, and numerous ethnic populations. Our ScanlDesign Master Studio was inspired by Copenhagen’s approach to neighborhood “lifting” by providing arts and cultural facilities in every neighborhood for all ages, and the city’s approach to conjoin climate resilience with cultivation of a good and equitable city. We applied site program ideas from our travels, including inspiration from Copenhagen’s children’s arts centers, vertical schools, urban productive gardens, and “cloudburst” parks. The studio’s project site and surrounding neighborhood in the First Hill district is destined to change in the next decades as the neighborhood intensifies, with streets already beginning to accommodate bicycles, pedestrians, and trolley transit, and the studio therefore considered the public life — both moving through and staying in — in the public realm of streets, parks and leftover spaces. The final studio work included design at all scales and show detailed and integrated resolution at the levels of district, site, and building.
Our studio had a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration, and students from various disciplines worked together to analyze, conceptualize, and develop integrated and comprehensive designs throughout the term. During the term, our Master Studio benefited from the involvement of Bianca Hermansen, formerly with Gehl Architects and now with her own firm, Cititek. Throughout the quarter, we built on our Copenhagen study tour by referencing examples from our travels and employing and expanding on Gehl’s public life/public space principles. We also benefited from the interaction with ILFI staff, professionals and community interests.