seattle

The Sunset Substation: a new pocket park for Seattle

We are very excited to begin a new project for the Sunset Hill neighborhood to transform an abandoned City Light substation parcel into a pocket park.  Based on the input from the community thus far, the program is very intriguing:  a community space with an artist-in-residence caretaker, powered by a serious photovoltaic array. There may be more or different elements as the project evolves in the community design process, and as we navigate through various City agencies and funding sources, but fundamentally this has all the values we expound as a firm:  sustainable building, energized public space, housing options/density, and  an interactive process that invests people in the civic life of their neighborhood.

In 2008, I designed a structure with a similar program for a Dwell Magazine conceptual competition:

Crissy Field House

Set at the east end of Crissy Field in San Francisco, this Community Room/Exhibit Hall creates an anchor for a new sculpture park. The hall is a multipurpose space, more infrastructure than building--for public events, private events, exhibits, etc. The glass sliding panels open the hall to the public, the park and the views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

A small caretaker's residence is situated on the second floor, using the broad roof of the Community Room as a vegetable garden, eliminating the conflict between the public park and the private residence. The glass screen walls provides security, and electricity--the design on the glass is created with a photovoltaic interlayer, which powers the house and hall. Stormwater is captured, stored and used to irrigate the roof garden.

While this little conceptual project may help to inform the Sunset Substation, I'm excited to apply some of this experience in designing a real world pocket park.

Stay tuned....

Backyard Cottages - Multigenerational Housing comes to Seattle

Here at CAST we have been watching the Seattle City Council very closely over the past few months as they contemplate passing an ordinance that would allow homeowners to construct backyard cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units), on their property... The measure is of particular interest to me as I'm a proponent of multigenerational living. If passed, the ordinance would provide greater flexibility for Seattle homeowners who wish to bring their families closer together. Curious what the ordinance would mean for my own property I spent a little time putting together some plans...

For my own property I envision a studio space above our existing garage that will provide a place for friends and family to stay during extended visits...

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If you live in Seattle and are interested in seeing the measure passed by the council, please take a minute and email your Seattle city council members with your support:

Planning Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee: Sally Clark; sally.clark@seattle.gov (Sally is the committee chair and in charge of getting the measure to vote) Tim Burgess; tim.burgess@seattle.gov Tom Rasmussen; tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov Jen Godden; jean.godden@seattle.gov (alt. member)

The remainder of the council is: Richard Conlin; richard.conlin@seattle.gov Jan Drago: jan.drago@seattle.gov Bruce Harrell; bruce.harrell@seattle.gov Nick Licata; nick.licata@seattle.gov Richard Mciver; richard.mciver@seattle.gov

Seattle Backyard Cottages

We have been working hard to get the City of Seattle to agree to allow Backyard Cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units). It gives owners opportunity and choice to provide additional housing for rental or a studio, will increase property values and does so in a measured way that is conscientious of neighbors and the single family neighborhood fabric. The current legislation will allow fifty per year--so it will have a minimal effect on neighborhood character.  If anything, I'd like to see more of them.

I find it amazing that this is at all controversial, considering you can put an detached accessory building or garage on your lot which may not be as tall, but can take up to 1000 square feet of your back yard!   The argument that this proposal will lead to less trees and green space in Seattle is a red herring.

And since attached accessory dwellings are already allowed outright, it also doesn't make sense that this proposal will lead to more density.  More likely, it will lead to more people choosing to build a small cottage than expanding their existing house to provide for the mother-in-law.  Two smaller structures are better for the scale of the city than more larger houses.

Carriage houses are successful component of many cities' neighborhood fabric and we'd like to see them allowed in Seattle too!  If they were, I'd build one--my neighborhood and site would be perfect for a little cottage--so here is my first pass....

backyard_cottage

I need a shop space, my wife needs an home office, and both of us need a place for our parents when they are in town for extended visits.

The building's footprint is roughly 40 x 14 with an airy studio (or 1 car garage with ample storage), and a guest bedroom and bath on the first floor.  Stairs lead up to a loft office overlooking the garden.  The design has some additional flexibility built in--the garage can be built with the rough in for a kitchen, so with minor changes, we'd have a 2br/1ba cottage.

We have been talking to an excellent local contractor with experience in prefab about teaming up to deliver a few prototypical designs for a fixed price (including ground work) somewhere around $210 a square foot, but one-off custom stick built cottages will be competitive in price, and adapt to the unique conditions of each site--existing lot coverage, location of existing buildings, solar orientation, parking, matching materials etc.

Before we do any real development, the City Council needs to green light the ordinance.  So you support the legislation, email the council!