Field Trip to Olson Kundig

On Saturday, we arrived at South Park bright and early to prepare to meet Jerry and Elisa, representatives of Olson Kundig, an internationally renowned architecture firm in downtown Seattle. Olson Kundig has worked with Design Your Neighborhood in earlier sessions and has expressed their interest in what the program sets out to accomplish. After a brief presentation of the firm’s past projects and involvement, the teens were given a thorough tour of the building, its offices, workshops, and even a look at some of their current projects. It’s safe to say that we were all in awe of how innovative of a company Olson Kundig is, from as simple and yet complex as a boardroom door to their ingenious rolling huts.

Later, our young designers sat down over lunch with Jerry and Elisa to talk about how they can apply the elements of design (an earlier lesson taught by Satpreet) and their ideas for their project to transform South Park into something better for the community. The teens were given a 2D floor plan of the teen room so that they could visually mark how they envision their end product. THINK BIG. THINK CRAZY, shouted Satpreet from the corner of the room. After some group discussion, the teens wrapped up the day with presenting their individual ideas for South Park and found commonalities.

Design Your Neighborhood would like to thank Olson Kundig, Jerry Garcia, and Elisa Renouard for opening their doors to us on Saturday. The lesson was invaluable and we cannot wait until our friends at Olson Kundig return to see the space themselves and see how our teens are excelling.


New Year, New Design Your Neighborhood!

Winter 2016

At the end of January, Design Your Neighborhood began a three month long winter session in the South Park Community Center. The Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Parks and Recreation are excited to work with the program’s talented teaching artist, Satpreet Kahlon, and twelve amazing individuals from across the Seattle area as we all come together to explore visual art, design, and how both of these things can create positive community change!

This session, the youth will think critically about the teen room in South Park and what they can do to create a space they can be comfortable in, respected in, and safe in. While everyone gets acquainted they will partake in various art activities, learn valuable lessons about art and design, and get exclusive tours on future field trips. There’s a bunch to look forward to and a lot to get done, so let’s get started!


The Final Design Project

After weeks of exploration and research, where students were engaged in discussions on social justice issues, our group of youths chose to focus on “Youth Homelessness” as the topic for their final design project. The group was divided into three teams, and each team created their own ideal space for providing homeless youths with not only shelters, but also learning facilities and more. Find out the details in their design statements below:


Team Mason & Mikayla

We are the Humanimal Society. We take care of your everyday needs & the everyday needs of animals. We have many opportunities for you & other youth to get together & help take care of animals of all different types to get you ready for a job in the real world. Not only do we provide an amazing job experience, we also provide a comfortable place to sleep & a great place to be yourself without being judged. Our main goal is for youth of all different cultures & sizes to be able to grow & do great things with the rest of their lives starting with a walk through our front door.


Team Chris & David

Safe place, a place for homeless youth to feel at home. Located in Capital Hill, we are a place that helps homeless youth no longer be homeless. We offer many different programs and facilities such as rehab, schooling, beds, hygiene, food, and recreational activities. Its building design will be something like the Seattle public library, crisscross iron bars with windows in between so that lots of natural light can seep in on one side, and on the other side aluminum roofing with wooden and glass sides again for lots of natural light. The first thing that you will see when walk in is the front desk and a bit of a lobby room where you can hang out. If you turn right you will be able to enter a lounge where you can hang out, read, watch movies, play video games, or just talk with friends. If you come out of the lounge and take a right then you are now headed down the hallway. On the first right is the boys bedrooms and bathrooms. On the first left is the schooling center. On the second right is the girls bedroom and bedroom. On the second left is the gym.



Team Cecelia 

The name of my space is Arbor: Haven Under Strong Boughs.  It is a place of protection and transparency.  The Visual symbol of this space is a tree with its branches falling to meet the roots which rise to meet the boughs above, making a continuous and never ending circle that represents the fact that an end is only the beginning of something else, the tree represents the continuous flow of end and beginning that makes up every person’s life; with the choices there in.

People will learn of Arbor it’s booklets that describe the choices and opportunities offered to them.  They will be able to find these booklets at community centers, pool, youth centers, et cetera.  Billboards and street flyers are also viable options.

The doors of Arbor are open to young adults, teens, and mature elders as they each have a role to play in its smooth operation.  To teens this place is to be a home as well as a place to be taught about becoming a self-sustaining individual.  Young adults are encouraged to come and learn the skills to carry them through life in whatever vocation they choose.  People with great maturity are needed to guide our teens into a future that will treat them well, as they become the supporting pillars of our society.

Arbor is open to everyone who wishes to walk through its doors.  It is a place that I hope to be as diverse and un-judgmental as the natural world it revolves around.  This community could be anywhere.  It might be in an all urban setting or a place that co-exists with the natural world that we reside in.  The community inside of Arbor is such that I believe it could stand anywhere.

As you walk in through the front doors of Arbor you are greeted by the sight of warm colors and soft places to sit.  The people behind the receiving desk want to help you with anything, as long as it is in their power.  If you are a homeless teen they will help you get settled into a place of your very own, as long as you wish to stay, and help you get started on whatever road of learning you pursue.  It is also a place of warmth to those that need it the most.

Arbor is a green space.  With solar panels, recycled wash water, self-composting, and rain catching barrels this space works to remove its ecological footprint as much as possible by supporting the services it provides.  Those services include: Two large dormitories, two locker rooms,  two washrooms, reception and front sitting area, two greenhouses, four elevators, nine versatile teaching rooms, women’s restroom, men’s restroom, cafeteria, fenced in surrounding greenery, and large rooftop garden/study area.

As you walk through these rooms the color scheme throughout are of the natural world, only, slightly muted and calm.  You flow with water through the front door and into a green world of espresso hued soil and forest greens along with the other bright colors of green vegetation, as you climb to higher levels you will see the golds, blues, purples, oranges, and reds of the sky, until once you reach the very top, as you walk among the greenery of the roof garden you might just catch sight of some rainbows.

The Arbor I see in my mind is a warm and safe place to learn and progress in the life you choose for yourself.  A place to study and grow as you learn who you are and how you wish to live the rest of your life.


Meet Our Young Designers

As our young designers navigate the waters of architectural designs and model-making, we invited them to have some fun and build their own mood boards. Here you’ll find the a few examples, along with all the young designers’ personal bios, telling you a bit more about who they are. In alphabetical order by first name, here are our designers from this Spring Session of Design Your [Neighbor]Hood:

Catherine Lucas-Dorsey is a 16 year old passionate about the arts and all creative endeavors. Born in Seattle, with plans to go to college in Savannah, Georgia at Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently a junior at Garfield High School. Catherine is actively involved in the Black Student Union and hopes to be a Senator for her senior year. She is also an integral part of the Garfield Theater program where she has stage-managed productions of Legally Blonde and Rent. She believes that creativity and creation is the only combat to work. “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation” –RentDSC_0410


Cecelia Buchanan is native to the bipolar city of Seattle Washington but in a great show of exploration her travel exuberant mother has whisked her and her younger brother all over the world. Always, at the end of such an adventure, with open arms and her favorite cookies (homemade of course) is her large family. Cecelia’s family with humor and teasing have taught her to learn about all the diverse pieces of life around her. So, in the summers that rise above seventy degrees Cecelia can be found in Lake Washington boating, inner tubing, and swimming, looking more like a narwhale than the homosapien she is. In the colder days of Autumn and Winter she can be seen observing the arts of photography, reading, writing, drawing, and cooking to stave off the chill in air, along with anything else that captures her fancy. Online schooling and volunteering help her hone her mind and skills so that one day she can hopefully travel and work alongside her fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses on the new Warwick Bethel project. For now she is still learning to be an individual she will be proud to tell you about in the future.DSC_0409


Chris Chamberlin is a student from Seattle who is currently enrolled in the youth Education program as a junior. His interests include skateboarding, filmmaking and music. He would like to film a documentary on homeless issues in Seattle using his talents and knowledge of the street. He is an older brother and role model to two siblings. This experience makes him a strong leader.

David Engel is a freshman at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences (SAAS). He is also very active in the Seattle youth ultimate Frisbee community.

Mason Kaul is a straight forward thinker who is good with his hands.  His mechanical mind makes geometry and fabrication enjoyable work. Born in Portland and now a junior at Ingram High School, he attends a skill center automotive school. Mason didn’t know what he wanted to do until accidently applying for an auto-tech class.DSC_0411


Mikayla Wright was born in Kirkland with big goals & big desires to meet them. Mikayla plans on going to college for various types of sciences. She enjoys long naps in her bed & when she’s not busy helping old people across the street, you can find her babysitting or sometimes even volunteering at the local community centers. Mikayla is currently in Glee club & choir for her passion of vibrating her vocal chords in mysterious ways. She loves helping her community & the people closest to her. Spending time with her family is also an important part of her everyday life.



Fieldwork – A Visit to the Olympic Sculpture Park

On a beautiful Saturday morning, our group of young designers visited the Olympic Sculpture Park, and came to discover the relationship between the natural- and built- environment. As they walked through the space, some were captured by the way in which a large scale installation like Richard Serra’s “Wake” interacts with its surroundings, some admired Alexander Calder’s soaring “Eagle” against the Seattle skyline, and some were strongly affected by Louise Bourgeois’s “Father and Son”. Here to share with you, a poem written by one of our students — “Divided”:

Father and Son, 2005 Louise Bourgeois, American (born French); born 1911, Paris; died 2010, New York Stainless steel, aluminum, water and bronze bell 36 ft. L x 26 ft. W overall dimension of fountain basin; 77 in. H: Father figure; 57 in. H: Son figure Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Stu Smailes, 2006.141 © Louise Bourgeois Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
Father and Son, 2005
Louise Bourgeois, American (born French); born 1911, Paris; died 2010, New York
Stainless steel, aluminum, water and bronze bell
36 ft. L x 26 ft. W overall dimension of fountain basin; 77 in. H: Father figure; 57 in. H: Son figure
Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Stu Smailes, 2006.141
© Louise Bourgeois
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider



Forever at odds with each other.
Divided by engulfing torrents of icy water.

I saw this very thing today at the Sculpture Park.
A sculpture of father and child.

Do you see the same thing I do?
Can you see the similarities between them and us?

I see it.
I feel the distance between us.

Sadly though, I don’t feel that shorter distances between houses
Will equal a shorter distance between hearts.

You keep stringing me along with a thread that keeps thickening and thinning,
With the decisions you have made over the passing years.
No matter the strain it has endured,
It has never snapped much to my chagrin.

For as much as I wish I could cut that string that runs from me to you,
I have found myself unable.
After all, here I am
Thinking of you again
Despite my attempts to not pray that things were different.

I don’t want to be that girl who cannot live without her father’s approval…
I am not that girl.

I refuse to wait for you to become the father I needed.
I will not be strung along anymore.

That thread that binds me to you
Will one day snap,
And I will not become lost in the icy water
When it does.

We are divided…
And I am trying not to care.


Design Your [Neighbor]Hood is back!

Spring 2015

And we’re back! After having worked with Arts & Academic Academy High School last summer, the Seattle Art Museum is back with another session of Design Your [Neighbor]Hood! This time in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Started at the end of February, Design Your [Neighbor]Hood — a multi-session intensive workshop focused on art, urban design and community change — continues to challenge teens to re-envision their communities and design a public space that will enhance their neighborhoods and or the city in a way that is meaningful to young people, residents and/or visitors.

During this current session, local youth design thinkers come together over the course of 12 weeks to identify, examine, and together [re]designed their neighborhoods. As our final presentation & celebration nears, we would like to share with you what we’ve learnt from field-visits and workshops, and the progress of our design projects. Stay tuned!

DYH Invite 2015 Final