New book ‘City Unsilenced’ explores protest and public space

Jeff Hou is a professor of landscape architecture and adjunct professor of urban design and planning in the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. His research, teaching and practice focus on community design, design activism, cross-cultural learning and engaging marginalized communities in planning and design.

Hou has written extensively on the agency of citizens and communities in shaping built environments. His newest book is “City Unsilenced: Urban Resistance and...

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Cities face a surge in online deliveries

Cities face a surge in online deliveries

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By the time veteran UPS driver Thomas “Tommy” Chu leaves work, he will have picked up and delivered hundreds of packages in New York City, making some 16 stops an hour as his company hurries to meet the online shopping rush. But what may be his most impressive feat of the day precedes that scramble: at precisely 10:02 am, Mr Chu snags a parking spot. This is no small victory in midtown Manhattan, where one...

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What counts as nature? It all depends

What counts as nature? It all depends

​Wikimedia Commons: Hopetoun Falls: labeled for reuse

The environment we grow up with informs how we define “nature,” UW psychology professor Peter Kahn says. Encounters with truly wild places inspire people to preserve them.Think, for a moment, about the last time you were out in nature. Were you in a city park? At a campground? On the beach? In the mountains?

Now consider: What was this place like in your parents’ time? Your grandparents’? In many...

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Can Seattle rezone away the racial divide in housing?

Can Seattle rezone away the racial divide in housing?

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For generations, Seattle was segregated through racist neighborhood covenants, deed restrictions, even banking policies designed to keep certain minorities out of largely white enclaves.Yet nearly 50 years after the landmark Fair Housing Act sought to reverse that legacy, the city remains strikingly separated along color lines.

A Seattle Times analysis shows that areas dedicated to single-family houses remain the city’s most exclusive havens. If you live in North Capitol Hill or...

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Three housing myths, debunked: poverty, property values, and gentrification

Three housing myths, debunked: poverty, property values, and gentrification

​Flickr: Mark Moz: Labeled for reuse

Homeownership can come with a hefty supply of emotions, paperwork and financial planning. And as one grows more attached to a residence over the years, feelings often deepen as house becomes home and memories start to accumulate.

So when terms like gentrification, poverty and low-income housing are bandied about in your neighborhood, you may be somewhat wary. But not so fast. Common misconceptions surround these topics. Myths abound. University of...

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Developing ‘breakaway’ tsunami resistant buildings

Developing ‘breakaway’ tsunami resistant buildings

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The best designs can also be the most surprising. A promising new concept for tsunami resistant buildings features breakaway walls and floors on lower levels that, when removed by forceful waves, strengthen the structure and better protect occupants seeking safety on higher floors.

Thanks to a $1 million National Science Foundation Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation grant, CEE faculty will be developing a new structural system to better protect communities during tsunamis. The...

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Best answer to Seattle affordability may win the race for mayor

Best answer to Seattle affordability may win the race for mayor

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The rising cost of housing is a dominant issue in Seattle’s mayoral election, but political messaging – on trust, results and leadership – could also move voters in the race between Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon.It’s a race away from a scandal and a race to become Seattle’s first woman mayor in about 90 years, a race about beating traffic and beating back President Donald Trump.

Most voters just...

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Urban@UW compiles Faculty Highlights Report for research, teaching and engagement on homelessness

Urban@UW compiles Faculty Highlights Report for research, teaching and engagement on homelessness

As part of its recently launched Homelessess Research Initiative, Urban@UW has collaborated with faculty and staff across all three UW campuses to compile a broad-ranging selection of powerful and robust projects addressing homelessness from a research lens. Check out the Faculty Highlights Report to learn more about these efforts and the people behind them.

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In Seattle, cost of meeting basic needs up $30,000 in a decade

In Seattle, cost of meeting basic needs up $30,000 in a decade

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A Seattle family of four must bring in $75,000 annually to pay for basic housing, food, transportation and health and child care – an increase of 62 percent since 2006, based on a new report from the University of Washington.

The city’s escalating cost of living may not be a surprise. But across the state, the amount of money required to make ends meet for two adults, a preschooler and a school-age child has...

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Earthquakes are inevitable but catastrophe is not

Written by University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Marc Eberherd, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering associate professor Jeffery Berman, and Department of Human-Centered Design senior scientist Scott Miles.

Many older buildings provide vital, low-cost housing. But we must find a way to make these structures safer. It should not be acceptable to us to subject our fellow citizens to such hazardous conditions.

ONCE again we...

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Storefront Studio creates vision for downtown block

Storefront Studio creates vision for downtown block

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Three graduate students and their professor from the University of Washington College of Built Environments spent much of this summer visiting Gig Harbor and creating a plan that could change and enhance an area in the downtown waterfront business district.

The Storefront Studio Project, as the endeavor is called, began in June when the students met with a group of about 50 business owners, residents, members of the Downtown Waterfront Alliance and others...

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Why Architects should care about public health

Why Architects should care about public health

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Andrew Dannenberg, an Affiliate Professor at the School of Public Health and the College of Built Environments, writes about the importance of architects recognizing human health: while architects have long recognized the importance of human health —including physical, mental, and social well-being — as part of their mission, implementation sometimes reflects a spirit of compliance more than of aspiration. Design that is limited to preventing harm by meeting building codes and standards forfeits...

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Opportunity abounds as Washington builds the modern electricity grid

The Horn Rapids Solar, Storage, and Training Project—which would be the largest solar installation in Washington, and one of a relative few anywhere with a significant amount of energy storage incorporated—embodies a long chain of public and private sector efforts that have positioned the state, and the broader Pacific Northwest, as a leader in the grid modernization and energy storage industries.

Grid modernization—a broader term for what is also...

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What city ants can teach us about species evolution and climate change

What city ants can teach us about species evolution and climate change

By Yair Haklai (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Acorn ants are tiny. They’re not the ants you’d notice marching across your kitchen or swarming around sidewalk cracks, but the species is common across eastern North America. In particular, acorn ants live anywhere you find oak or hickory trees: both in forests and in the hearts of cities.

That’s why they’re so interesting to Sarah Diamond, a biology professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. ...

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Birds versus buildings: Rural structures pose greater relative threat than urban ones

Birds versus buildings: Rural structures pose greater relative threat than urban ones

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About one billion birds are killed every year when they unwittingly fly into human-made objects such as buildings with reflective windows. Such collisions are the largest unintended human cause of bird deaths worldwide — and they are a serious concern for conservationists.

A new paper published in June in the journal Biological Conservation finds that, as one might suspect, smaller buildings cause fewer bird deaths than do bigger buildings. But the research...

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