Green Futures Lab

The Green Futures Lab conducts research and design projects that aim to improve the ability of public spaces to build community and provide recreation and revitalization.

Equitable Public Space

As environmental economic and health disparities continue to widen in cities and urbanizing areas, planners and designers are challenged with unpacking the relationships between policies, planning, design, and needed social and environmental equity. Public space equity – a concerted effort to invest in public places and processes in neglected neighborhoods and communities – is an...

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City of Edmonds Revisioning Plan

The GFL worked with the City of Edmonds to create plans for the expanding role of its neighborhood centers as more active and vital parts of the community. The GFL engaged the community in workshops and forums to study and re-envision the neighborhood commercial areas of Westgate and Five Corners, and developed a form-based code...

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Woodinville Vision 2035

The GFL facilitated a visioning process for the future of a 17-acre site in the center of Woodinville. The GFL team led a design charrette with citizens and professionals, and refined ideas into two alternatives that incorporate sustainable design standards from the Living Futures Community Challenge, LEED for Campus, and One Planet Living frameworks. Volume...

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Manchester Stormwater Park

The Green Futures Lab has monitored the effectiveness of Kitsap County’s Manchester Stormwater Park in treating pollutants from the upstream contributing basin, collecting and analyzing samples over the course of one year. Results indicate that both the system of level perimeter wetland cells filled with proprietary soil media, and the vertical spiral rain gardens with...

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Porous Public Space

How can design help us to regard stormwater as a resource rather than waste? How can the celebration of water bring people together in public space? How might a heightened awareness of water– positioned in its unique geophysical context–promote an urban life culture with an authentic sense of place? Interns Roxanne Lee and James Wohlers...

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Urban Play Handbook

Play brings people together, stimulates creativity, alleviates stress, and cultivates delight to both the participant and the viewer. Play can also break down social barriers that often prevent diverse groups from interacting and equitably sharing public space. Therefore, providing opportunities for play in the urban public realm is an essential tactic for creating lively, just...

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Activating Alleys for a Lively City

Seattle’s alleys are underused and considered to be the ‘backside’ of the city. There are 456,390 SF of existing public squares, parks and pedestrian streets in downtown Seattle. However by reevaluating and reformulating our alleys we can integrate exciting, green, and healthy public spaces into our existing urban environment. This Seattle Integrated Alley Handbook was...

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Reflections: People on the Waterfront

In an ideal world, waterfronts would be available to all people. In most U.S. cities these prime sites are in private or industrial hands. Seattle has over 200 miles of shoreline, most of it inaccessible to the general public. The healing power of shorelines, water access and views are available only to the privileged. Reflections:...

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Lake Forest Park 100-year Legacy Plan

As a member of a professional consulting team, the Green Futures Lab led the public process for developing a 100-year green infrastructure plan for the community of Lake Forest Park. The Lab facilitated a Green infrastructure festival to solicit community input, a Green Legacy design charrette to engage the public in planning their green infrastructure...

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Shifting Gears

The benefits, utility, and joys of traveling by bicycle are countless, and the relative costs affordable. Yet it has been challenging for US cities to develop the kinds of infrastructural facilities that would make cycling available and attractive to large portions of their populations. Copenhagen, Denmark provides an inspiring example of municipal commitment to cycling...

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Re-Imagining Seattle Streets

This was the challenge presented by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), with a long connective arterial in the Magnolia neighborhood as our testing ground. This street was selected due to its exceptionally wide planting strips, its underlying water and habitat connections between Elliot Bay and the Ship Canal at the Ballard Locks, and its primacy as...

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Public Spaces | Public Life Studios

The Public Spaces Public Life studio in the College of Built Environments combines international study experience with multi-disciplinary collaboration on local projects in order to explore planning and design solutions for Seattle’s public realm. Before the studio, students travel to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit the office of the renowned Copenhagen firm Gehl Architects and see...

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Open Space Seattle 2100

This collaborative project asked leaders from civic, environmental, business and community groups to create a comprehensive open space vision to guide Seattle’s urban development over the next 100 years. The urban watershed-based process included a city-wide design charrette with 23 teams led by local professionals and UW students. The 200-page final report documented visions and...

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Adaptive Streets

Adaptive Streets: Strategies for Transforming the Urban Right-of-Way is an illustrated handbook to inspire and guide citizens, planners and officials to re-imagine how our streets can be adapted to increase utility and delight as well as enhance human and environmental health. The book presents a collection of strategies, demonstrating how they can be implemented in...

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Burlington at a Crossroads

In 2013, Burlington, WA—a small agricultural city located in the Skagit Valley north of Seattle—engaged an interdisciplinary team of graduate students and a faculty advisor from the University of Washington Green Futures Lab (GFL) to generate ideas for a Comprehensive Plan update. City planners and the GFL convened numerous public workshops, forums, and presentations to...

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