VIA Goes on a Walking Tour of Seattle
VIA staff tour various VIA projects in Seattle. Words by VIA’s Justin Panganiban
VIA staff from our Seattle and Vancouver offices participated in a walking tour of Seattle, highlighting several neighborhoods and projects where VIA played a role in shaping livable, sustainable communities.
Matt Roewe led a morning tour of South Lake Union, a neighborhood that has undergone a major transformation over the last decade as Seattle’s emerging tech/research hub. Matt shared his insight into the combination of public and private investment, land use and zoning policy, and mobility infrastructure that is responsible for the neighborhood’s urban form – from the preserved historic brick facades to the midblock alleyways. The tour culminated at one of VIA’s multifamily projects, Fox & Finch, which exemplifies a design that responds appropriately to changing neighborhood context. A seven-story, 49-unit building nestled next to several office buildings, Fox & Finch utilizes high quality building materials, integrates ground-floor retail space to activate the street, and provides residents with proximity to live, work, and play opportunities.
The group then headed to Uptown, a neighborhood also poised for significant transformation through the renovation of KeyArena and a future light rail station. Here, Katie Idziorek showcased how VIA contributed to community-building at different scales. The group first walked to Uptown Parklet, a small public park next to the SIFF Cinema. As one of Seattle’s first parklets, this Community Design Studio (CDS) project was a result of a collaborative process between community members to create a space whose design reflects the arts & culture presence in the neighborhood. Katie then walked the group over to the Cora Apartments, where we were given a building tour of different residential and amenity spaces – including a landscaped rooftop terrace with views toward Elliott Bay!
In the afternoon, the group put on their transit hats and traveled to two destinations along the LINK light rail line. Bethany Madsen first led the group on a tour of Angle Lake Station, located at the southern terminus of the current light rail line. She highlighted sustainable aspects of the station design that contributed to the project’s LEED gold certification, including rainwater harvesting and material selection. Bethany also shared how the station architecture, such as the wave-form canopy design elevated over the roadway, contributed to the station’s signature presence for arriving passengers. We concluded the afternoon with a tour led by Charles Romero of CityLine II, one of VIA’s transit-oriented multifamily projects located minutes away from the Columbia City Station. Compared to the more “urban center”-scaled buildings in South Lake Union and Uptown, Charles Romero highlighted the project’s ability to engage pedestrians at a residential neighborhood scale, from high-quality landscaping to pedestrian passages throughout the site.
The walking tour was an excellent way for staff across both offices to get a deeper dive into what make VIA a leader in sustainable, livable communities in the Seattle area. As new projects break ground and are constructed over the next few years, we look forward to what a future Seattle walking tour potentially has in store.