Behind the Scenes

I'm Officially a TEDster

TEDster – noun. A person who attends a TED conference.

Attending the TED conference is like drinking from a fire hose; while TED talks are between 8-19 minutes long, the conference is a full 5 days. There are two-hour sessions 2-3 times a day, where you hear 6- 8 speakers in a row.

The theme for the conference was The Future You. And while there was a lot of talk about robots and drones of the near-term and future, it was balanced with the human side of things and the importance of community and connection. The topics ranged from artificial intelligence, art and music, healthcare, and climate change, to compassion and heartbreak, microbes and pond scum, refugees, and community. Speakers were not run-of-the-mill, but top in the field, extraordinary individuals doing amazing work like Pope Francis, the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Shah Rukh Kahn, Tim Ferriss, Serena Williams, and Elon Musk. The full line-up can be found here.

A few of my favorite sessions were:

Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon – two friends who started a non-profit called GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. Invoking the spirits of their foremothers and Harriet Tubman, they spoke about why and how they get black women out walking in their neighborhoods – for their personal health as well as social change. Throughout American history, black women walked to organize their communities and speak out against injustices. Their talk was powerful and brought the audience to their feet.

 Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Titus Kaphar – an artist that spoke about race and equity in art as seen through the eyes of his young son, and how art has historically marginalized people of color. He painted for us as he talked about why you can’t erase history, but how you can obscure the power depicted through art to bring into focus the people who were oppressed. A beautiful performance. 

 Titus Kaphar's work at TED

Titus Kaphar's work at TED

Devita Davison – a food activist from Detroit whom I’ve been raving about since last year when I first heard her speak at a planning conference. She is working with a team to make Detroit a food sovereign city, and helping people of color become entrepreneurs. Devita took us on a tour of her hometown showing us community gardens where residents came to know their farmers, and where neighbors band together to obliterate food deserts and build community. She comes from a long lineage of preachers and her talk showed it – the passion and conviction with which she spoke was infectious.

 Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

There were many more on art and music, climate change, and human connection – but those will come in a later post.  In the meantime, look up Raj Panjabi, Emily Esfahani Smith, Daan Roosegaarde, Anna Rosling Rônnlund, Kate Marvel, Guy Winch, Anab Jain, Anna Herringer, Ashton Applewhite, Helen Pearson, Susan Pinker, Anthony Romero, Laolu Senbanjo, Jacob Collier, Lil Buck, Huang Yi, Anne Madden, David Whyte, and Manoush Zomorodi.

The TED experience was exhilarating and inspiring. In an interview, Elon Musk (who talked about colonizing Mars, a tunnel/highway under LA to get people out of traffic, and autonomous vehicles) was asked what inspired him. He said, “I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.” I get that. But I’m also sad he feels that way, because when I think of the future, I’m hopeful, not sad. I think the future holds much beauty and promise. There was talk about inclusivity and resilience at the conference, and I’m glad to have had this past week to think about what that means for The Future Us.

- Grace

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.
 

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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).

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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.

Cheers! 

-The Froggers

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.

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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.

Cheers!

-The Froggers

Kitsap Horizons

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copyright schemata workshop inc.

The battle between winter and summer gives the PNW its feisty spring season. Warm sunbreaks through the grey clouds remind us that summer is inevitable, but the rain and occasional blistery gust quickly pull the last threads of winter forward into the new year. 

One of the most spectacular places to see this battle unfold is on the Kitsap Peninsula. About this time of year in 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to the Kitsap for the first time. What I discovered was a place tucked between mountains and the misty din of Puget Sound. 

  Indianola pier   copyright schemata workshop inc.

Indianola pier copyright schemata workshop inc.

As a pro bono project, Schemata Workshop was working with Camp Indianola to re-envision their Campus. Originally built in 1957, some of the structures don’t recognize themselves as a place of retreat between prospect and refuge, literally and figuratively--city and nature, land and sea.

I had never heard of Camp Indianola, but their mission resonated: Camp Indianola is a part of the United Methodist Church and offers multi use facilities for groups and individuals regardless of religion, gender, or sexual orientation, (or any of the other qualities that so often separate people from each other.)

We were tasked with providing concept designs to help with their fundraising efforts. To begin these efforts, a co-worker and I went on a site visit. What a rough day :) 

We look forward to continuing our work with Camp Indianola, but in the meantime, we will enjoy the spring view!

- Roma 

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copyright schemata workshop inc.