2013--Another great year for CAST architecture

2013-year-end-wrap Thanks to our wonderful clients for another great year!  In the office, we have a solid mix of intriguing work--a remodel of University Cooperative School, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, the completion of Canal Street Studio, a little coffee shop, a host of prefab modular houses on Bainbridge Island, a live-work studio, in addition to some really fun houses and remodels such as The RancheroOliner Residence and the Saratoga Residence.

This next year we're looking forward to the completion of the Ho Residence on Lake Washington, a cabin in Roslyn, a house or two in Seattle, and more on Bainbridge.  We'll also have a sweet townhouse project, a couple second story additions.

Happy New Year to all!

Matt, Stefan, Tim, Rebecca and Forrest




IMG_4149 We had a fantastic turn out for the Sand Point Elementary Earth-day work party this past weekend. A special thanks to Loren Yaguchi and all the folks from Abbott Construction's special projects group for donating materials, shop time, and a whole lot of can do to make the benches we designed become a fantastic kit of parts for the community to assemble!



30 new stacking benches for the outdoor classroom fully assembled - a testament to the prep of the folks a Abbott Construction and all the volunteers who turned out to work on our local public school!


Thank you to Carter Capps, pitcher for the Seattle Mariners and Taylor Graham, defender for the Sounders FC for signing autographs and helping with our projects!

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Richard Swann author of “Our School Garden” putting the newly assembled benches for the outdoor classroom to good use!



Rainier Beach Urban Farm

In collaboration with Seattle Tilth, the Friends of R.B.U.F.W., and the Berger Partnership, CAST will be designing an urban farm in Seattle.  The site is a former municipal nursery in Rainier Beach--10 acres of mostly wetland with some hoop houses at the north end.  We'll be undertaking the challenge to not only make a model for urban agriculture, we'll also be greatly increasing the ecological function of the wetlands.

This project is in one of the most diverse zip codes in the nation, and we'll be involving the community to shape the design, as well as creating facilities for small scale commercial farmers, entrepreneurs, and other programs such as Seattle Youth Garden Works.  The hope is to make a community hub centered on growing and sharing food.

The first community design meeting is June 19th on site (time TBD).  Please come and share your vision with us!

Chicken Coop for the Institute for Women's Excellence, Rwamagana, Rwanda.

We helped out a great organization, Orphans to Ambassadors with a pro bono design and donation for a chicken coop to help feed 423 orphans at the Institute for Women's Excellence in Rwanda.  During the month of May, they build the coop, some rocket stoves, and some rainwater harvesting projects for this and other orphanages in the area.  Great work!

Hopefully, we'll have the chance to help out with more their future projects!

Please support them with a donation!

Urban Intervention at the Seattle Center-- a vision for the next fifty years

In collaboration with the Berger Partnership ,Via Architecture, and Rushing, we put together a competition proposal for the replacement of Memorial Stadium and a new vision for the Center as a whole.

The design is an organic and topographic intervention that flows through the Center and surrounding neighborhoods, creating new connections, opportunities for new programs, and experiences at the Center. It creates a dense, flexible fabric stitched together with multi-modal transit to bring in new audiences, local/daily users, and new amenities for regional visitors.

Some of the important features:


Right now the Center acts as an island in the city, but should be a hub linking neighborhoods rather than separating them. To that end, we're showing a linkage through the Bay to Lake trail, a transit center with bus, Rapid Ride, sub grade parking, and a new loop of the streetcar. The northern edge, bounded by Mercer will have a new lid park to bring in foot/bike traffic from Queen Anne and a plaza at the corner of Mercer and 5th. Broad Street becomes a greenway linking to SAM Sculpture Park to Lake Union. In effect, it's location makes it an ideal 'transit oriented park' to draw Seattleites to and through the Center.

Layered landscape:

The new topography defines the Center Green, an organic open space at the heart that spills out in all directions. Memorial Stadium is replaced by a field with a 'kop' style hill as seating, perfect for multi-use such as a musical performance space.  From 5th, the landscape opens up for a vista to the International Fountain. Underneath the Center Green, we have a series of public event spaces, storefronts for fringe/alternative cultural institutions to colocate and share resources, layers of parking, and finally a grid of ground source heat pumps to lessen energy use for the Center overall.

We didn't stop at the boundaries of the original 9 acre site, but extended the idea to carve out new access from Uptown and the meandering pathways that run through the Center Green terminate at a bridge to the apex of Key Arena--a great new public view point to downtown and the Sound.

Expressive Environmental Infrastructure:

Beyond Seattle 2030, the design begins to illustrate the path toward making the world's first Living Building District. The goal is to create a beneficial closed loop system for using on site resources and expressing the infrastructure so visitors can see, understand, and take the lessons of sustainability home. Floating above the landscape, there is a layer of solar canopy (about 150K SF) to generate energy for the spaces on the 9 acre site. We also did a first pass on other locations for solar throughout the Center, and could easily add twice that amount on existing roofs and walls of other center buildings. The draped landscape collects storm water and purifies it through a series of rain gardens and native landscape.

The Center as a cultural incubator:

We're also proposing a mix of new, smaller multi use spaces to support the growth of new cultural generators, like SIFF and KEXP.  Tucked under the knoll overlooking the performance/field, we are proposing a new multi-use performance/community space which can be configured like the Center's Northwest Rooms or opened up for larger events. At the corner of Mercer and 5th, we've opened up a new urban plaza that acts as both a local Queen Anne gateway and spill out space for the community space and cultural incubators.

Although we were not selected as a finalist for the competition, I think we put together a very forward looking, connective, and sustainable solution which would do the city proud.

Special thanks to Studio 216 for the help with the renderings!

Seattle Center Urban Intervention competition-sneak peak

Soon we'll be able to post our design concept for the revitalization of the Seattle Center, as part of the Urban Intervention competition, but here is a little sneak peak:

Once they announce the finalists, we'll be able to release the full content of our proposal, as well and give full credit to all the great collaborators we worked with.


CAST elevates Tim Hammer to Principal

In December, Stefan and I asked Tim to become a full partner in CAST architecture.  Tim has been with us since 2006, and has done some fantastic work, including the Artalejo-LacasAnderson and Bookloft residences.

Tim's work has been influenced by his interest in traditional Japanese architecture, small space design and Urban density issues. His path has been fueled by an 18-month research scholarship to study urban housing in Japan while a graduate student. This interest has most recently manifested itself in his efforts advocating for the passage of the Seattle Backyard Cottage ordinance. He is currently engaged in the design of efficient and elegant homes and cottages in various Seattle neighborhoods.

Tim is a registered architect in the State of Washington. He received a master of Architecture from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Art and Design from Montana State University.

Future Shack 2011

Join us tonight at Future Shack 2011 for another evening of great dialogue about houses.  Last year I participated in the 'Speed-Date'---seven minutes to lay out the project and have a design brainstorm, then on to the next architect.  It was a blast, and this year Tim will be sitting in for me. After Speed Date Design, there will be a presentation of innovative ideas in housing.

Our entry, Urban Olympic, is a nine unit townhouse complex designed to use 90% less energy that typical code compliance housing.  See our entries over the last few years : 2011, 2009

It is at Fisher Pavillion in the Seattle Center, starting at 5 pm.


CAST architecture recently participated in a Seattle City Council discussion regarding backyard cottages. The meeting began with a presentation of backyard cottage statistics that were gathered during the first year of the city wide backyard cottage ordinance. Following the presentation participants discussed working with the ordinance in practice and suggested potential improvements that could be made to the ordinance. You can view a video of the entire discussion at Backyard Cottages: 1 Year Later

There is also a backyard cottage annual report available to download from the DPD's website: Backyard Cottages Annual Report - April 2011

Of particular interest was the number of cottages permitted in the first year (57) and their relatively even distribution throughout the city. One of the primary concerns opponents had expressed in opposition to the ordinance was a fear that dense concentrations of cottages would "take over" single family neighborhoods causing widespread parking and privacy issues. The fear was so potent and adamantly expressed that at one point during the development of the ordinance city council members considered placing limits on the number of permits per year (50) and limits on the number of cottages allowed in any given area. Thankfully, neither limit was written into the code and the fears have been proven to be unjustified thus far.

A few other interesting issues that came to the surface during the discussion were:

  1. The relatively high costs of constructing a backyard cottage makes it difficult for home owners to see a return on their investment if they hope to use a cottage to generate rental income. In general it was felt that backyard cottages were an important new housing typology for the city and that the cottages are a valuable addition to the city's rental stock. It was proposed that the city should consider incentives that would help lower the cost of constructing a cottage and help encourage their creation. A reduced permit fee and property tax credits are two areas I think the city should review.
  2. The feeling that the off street parking requirements (2 spaces) was in most cases unnecessary and to the detriment of green space and usable yards. One idea put forth was to loosen the parking requirements by making it easier to obtain a parking waiver on streets where parking is not an issue.
  3. The base height limit was thought to be a bit too low and creates unreasonable difficulties for the construction of two story structures. During the public comment portion of the meeting architect Jim Burton suggested changing the datum to which the base height could be measured (top of plate) to add a bit to the base height limit and encourage homeowners to exceed minimum requirements for insulating roofs and ceilings. The overall height limit was thought to be adequate with the exception of the following issue:
  4. The current ordinance sets the height limit to 15' above an existing home. This was thought to be problematic and unfair in the case where the property owner's lot has a significant slope up behind the existing home.
  5. The current ordinance does not allow for a backyard cottage to be built on a through lot (a lot with a street on both the front and rear lot lines of a property). This was generally thought to be a mistake in the writing of the ordinance and that the ordinance should be revised to allow cottages on through lots.

All in all it was a fun and informative meeting. Kudos to the city employees key in the development of the ordinance and to Sally Clarke and the city council for passing the ordinance unanimously. After the first year of real world testing the ordinance has proven to be a resounding success.

CAST architecture in the news

crissy-2-final CAST architecture was featured in a couple of articles in the latest Forum magazine (published by AIA Seattle):

Sunset Substation Park was highlighted in an article, Ideas Toward a Renewable City, by Kate Cudney and Tom Mulica.

In a second article, New Edge/New Blood:  Refreshing reminders from ten young firms on keeping your competitive edge, by David Spiker, I talk about our use of blogging as a tool to highlight recent work and causes such as Backyard Cottages and reforming the Multifamily code.  Hopefully it is giving people a broader understanding, beyond the glossy portfolio, of the values that drive our designs.

CAST architecture has moved!

IMG_3421 After 10 years in our Leary and 6th location, CAST architecture has completed our move to a brighter, larger space at 115 N. 36th Street in Fremont  (98103), overlooking the Canal.   Our phone number is staying the same, but we've been having a few snags with the new phone service and should have it worked out today.

Happy New Year!


Sunset Substation Park to be published in Sunset Magazine, AIA Forum Magazine

Sunset Substation Park will be included in an article on pocket parks in Sunset Magazine in February, and in a themed issues of AIA Seattle's magazine, Forum, on the 'Renewable City.' Hopefully this extra publicity will bolster the idea that creating public parks out of surplus, city-owned, urban land is an obvious solution to increasing the sustainability and long-term livability of our neighborhoods.

The Stranger's Dominic Holden Covers Seattle's Multi Family code update...

multifamily-updateIllustration by James Yamasaki for The Stranger "On December 13, the Seattle City Council passed new rules for buildings in high-density residential neighborhoods. The decree has drawn predictable criticism from some activists, who complain the new rules will change the city's character, but in fact the gripes of these activists hit on exactly what's great about the new rules: They allow more housing." -Dominic Holden for The Stranger

Read more at the Stranger: Ditching Town Houses