“Seattle is known for its progressive policies, stunning natural environment, a thriving economy, and an overall high quality of life. However, the opportunities for prosperity are not shared equally among Seattle’s residents and significant racial disparities exist in income, housing, education, and public health. Seattle’s rapid growth risks intensifying these disparities.

How can Seattle continue to thrive amidst ongoing urban challenges, prepare for sudden shocks and catastrophic events, and create opportunities for all residents to enjoy a prosperous, healthy, and high quality of life? This is what the Seattle resilience work is all about.”

— Resilient Seattle website

Each of these conditions embody the need for more dynamic and systems-oriented design and planning towards community resilience, where supportive networks and elements enable flexible, adaptive movement and functions. This studio explored how community resilience can be advanced through typologies of:

  1. constructed elements
  2. deployable networks, and,
  3. robust systems.

Following the group’s initial site visit and creation of artifacts reflecting their primary experiences, the students moved forward exploring site potentials as elements, networks, and systems. Students were able to work singly or in teams and were able to form into new teams with each new assignment.

Following the development of elements and networks, studio and seminar students shared their proposals and sought feedback from community members at a workshop held near the light rail station, through mapping and writing activities and discussions. This feedback contributed to student groups proposing site systems, which were tested and advanced through a charrette involving community members, agency representatives, and design and planning professionals and faculty. Students’ presented their refined systems proposals to a similar group of community, professional, and academic reviewers on March 9, 2018, at UW’s Gould Hall.

The students’ proposals from the studio and seminar are posted here.


Origin, Middle English (denoting fundamental constituents of the world or celestial objects): via Old French from Latin elementum ‘principle, rudiment’, translating Greek stoikheion ‘step, component part’

–English Oxford Living Dictionaries accessed 1.11.18

This brief assignment asked studio students:

What are the opportunities, assets, and needs of this community? What challenges does it face that affect its resilience from both dramatic/catastrophic events and the cumulative and evolving forces of change?

Building on this narrative you’ve developed, identify one such system (food access? mobility? xxx?) that you would like to challenge through a creative and simple intervention—

an element that

  • could effect change across that one or ideally multiple systems in making the community more resilient.
  • may be physical or programmatic (such as an event, a walking school bus)—or both!
  • fits in the landscape of this neighborhood.
  • is easy to build/make/implement/deploy.

The outcomes provide diverse programmatic and design responses shown here.



A group or system of interconnected people or things

–English Oxford Living Dictionaries accessed 1.26.18

Following on Elements, the studio developed proposals for networks responding to this prompt:

What aspects of community analysis findings, proposed elements, and resilience frameworks resonate in ways that suggest a missing and needed network? This may be a physical network for mobility, food, and so forth, and/or a programmatic network that arises from and relates to particular spatial/programmatic contexts in the community.

Consider how this particular network you’re identifying and bringing to life may:

  • apply a more robust set of community resilience considerations.
  • effect change across that one or ideally multiple systems.
  • engage diverse stakeholders within the community
  • amplifies, integrates, and/or initiates connections within and beyond the community’s resources.



At a time when the world is more messy, more crowded, more interconnected, more interdependent, and more rapidly changing than ever before, the more ways of seeing, the better. The systems-thinking lens allows us to reclaim our intuition about whole systems and:

  • hone our abilities to understand parts,
  • see interconnections,
  • ask “what-if” questions about possible future behaviors, and
  • be creative and courageous about system redesign.

–Donella H. Meadows. 2008. Thinking in Systems: A Primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, pp. 6-7

In reflecting on feedback from a community-based workshop, a series of systems emerged which students were asked to advance by:

  • articulating goals,
  • identifying potential scenarios and refining each as a vision plan as well as key stakeholders and implementers and means to achieve the visions, and
  • incorporating proposed and creating new elements and networks.