Retreat 2016

Since the inception of Schemata, we have convened annually as an office to review the past year, and set goals and strategic direction for the upcoming year. Our success in meeting or exceeding our goals differs from year to year, but we firmly believe the intentional act of evaluation and reflection has contributed to the growth of the practice. While 11 years ago, when we started out, our two principals provided all the content and facilitation, we have long since had all the staff actively participate by preparing and presenting portions of the day's events.
 

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.


This year we convened on Capitol Hill in the 12th Ave Arts building. There was a recap of 2015, an overview of company financials and future projections, a discussion of design philosophy (Latin definition - to befriend wisdom), brainstorming for a research agenda, and lots of hand sketching and collage making. All of this was followed by a few hours of bowling at The Garage (now an annual tradition).

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

We have had a lot of transition over the past year and anticipate a little more growth in the next few months as we welcome 3 new staff and a summer intern. 2015 was a challenging year with several projects that required a lot of staff time without the fee to support the level of effort...but we are optimistic for 2016 - we are well poised with a significant back log of work.

Designing Urban Gardens: Youth Voices

On a sunny spring Saturday morning, while the rest of the world people was busy either caucusing or getting ready for Easter,  a bunch of bright-eyed youth, including those from the Seattle Art Museum Design Your 'Hood program, grouped together at the CfAD space.  They were challenged to rethink and build models of their ideas of what gardens in a dense residential environment meant for them for the Seattle Architecture Foundation Teen Workshop on "Urban Gardens".

Mira and Will who have been long time volunteers for the Seattle Architecture Foundation, helped organize and host this workshop on Urban Gardens.  Grace presented a short slideshow with examples of different types of gardens, including urban farms to spark some ideas and the students broke up into 4 teams.   Using CHUC as their blank canvas, elaborate designs came to life during this 4-hour workshop.

Here's a round-up of the designs:

A fish bridge completes this design featuring windy, organic gravel walkways that create distinct gardening zones for the different types of plants, and play areas.

A fish bridge completes this design featuring windy, organic gravel walkways that create distinct gardening zones for the different types of plants, and play areas.

Plenty of hanging vines and plant shelves brighten up the south blank walls.  The roof is divided into two parts: a growing area and a relaxation area.  The growing area features apple trees, planters, and benches.  The relaxation area features tall grasses and a cupcake paper parasol.

Plenty of hanging vines and plant shelves brighten up the south blank walls.  The roof is divided into two parts: a growing area and a relaxation area.  The growing area features apple trees, planters, and benches.  The relaxation area features tall grasses and a cupcake paper parasol.

This design was all about what each group member loved to do outdoors!  One teen wanted to see active play spaces so created a rock climbing wall and small pool to address the compact constraints.  Another teen wanted a place for her and her dog to roam free in the city.  A shady relaxation spot was thought up from a student who wanted to have a place to browse her phone. Lastly, a dining area amidst a food garden was important for another team member.

This design was all about what each group member loved to do outdoors!  One teen wanted to see active play spaces so created a rock climbing wall and small pool to address the compact constraints.  Another teen wanted a place for her and her dog to roam free in the city.  A shady relaxation spot was thought up from a student who wanted to have a place to browse her phone. Lastly, a dining area amidst a food garden was important for another team member.

This team dubbed their project "The Emerald Roof" for all the greenery they featured in their design:  urban farm and garden, outside dining area, vines to brighten up the blank wall and alley, a shed to store equipment, and of course, the world's LARGEST cabbages.  Kuddos to their quick thinking by changing their sidewalk benches to "art installations" when they realized they were way out of scale!

This team dubbed their project "The Emerald Roof" for all the greenery they featured in their design:  urban farm and garden, outside dining area, vines to brighten up the blank wall and alley, a shed to store equipment, and of course, the world's LARGEST cabbages.  Kuddos to their quick thinking by changing their sidewalk benches to "art installations" when they realized they were way out of scale!

A bunch of tuckered out teens after the workshop, thinking, "Not another photo!"

A bunch of tuckered out teens after the workshop, thinking, "Not another photo!"

Rayna, from Design Your 'Hood also wrote a post about the workshop.   Click here to read about her perspective of the workshop, and find out more about their incredible work with these teens!

 

Cheers!

-The Froggers


A special thanks to:

Minh, youth program coordinator at SAF, for helping with the organization.

Davira and Kavita, SAF volunteers, for the extra helping hands.

Gwen and Rayna, Design Your 'Hood leaders, for bringing these fantastic teens to the workshop!

 

 

Project Milestones: The Parsonage

It has been a long journey through Seattle’s Landmarks process for The Parsonage, a residential project that combines an existing landmarked structure with new-construction housing in the University District. After undergoing seven different briefing presentations before the Landmarks Preservation Board and Architectural Review Committee, the Parsonage team successfully completed their Final Certificate of Approval Presentation a few weeks ago. With a unanimous vote of approval among board members, the project has officially been approved! 

A little bit about our journey: Since the first Landmarks Briefing back in October of 2014, The Parsonage project has gone through several iterations, and the team has worked with the Department of Neighborhoods to give periodic presentations to the Board every step of the way. Everything from the initial massing concepts of the entire site, to the color of the parsonage entry door has been presented to the Board for their feedback and guidance. 

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

Only the exterior of the parsonage house is landmarked, so the design team had to be very sensitive to any changes affecting the outside of the building, and make a compelling case for proposed modifications. One of the bigger exterior modifications we proposed (and the source of ongoing debate throughout the Landmarks process) was the removal of the existing chimney. In its current condition, the chimney is in pretty poor shape. It’s visibly pulling away from the side of the house and what little mortar remains in the brick joints has deteriorated to sand. It would need to be removed during construction regardless, and would have no functional purpose within the design of the new interior space if it were rebuilt. 

We did some research into the characteristics of the Seattle Box—the architectural style in which the parsonage house was built—and found the chimney was not a character-defining element. In our case, we felt it ended up detracting from many exterior elements we are working hard to repair and highlight (you can see in our renderings the chimney has been removed). It was a hard sell to the Landmarks committee nonetheless. At our last presentation, we finally got the approval we had been looking for, and reached consensus among the Board members that the many improvements provided for in the project trump the preservation of the chimney.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

copyright schemata workshop inc.

The approved proposal will fully utilize the historical building not only as the main entrance to the property, but also as a common area containing several amenity spaces for the students being housed in the new seven story addition being constructed to the south and east. As the parsonage house is currently in a state of severe neglect, the project will not only breathe new life into it, but will also allow it to, once again, have a street presence and a revitalized connection with the neighboring church with which it is historically tied.

Find more information about The Parsonage project
here.

- Margaret K.