City As Platform
  • Storrs Center | Mansfield, CT
    A mixed-use center for town and gown. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Ponce City Market | Atlanta
    A unique building becomes a hub for historic neighborhoods. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Village of Providence | Huntsville, Alabama
    Expanding options for a car-oriented suburban area. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • South Main | Buena Vista, Colorado
    An inspiring town extension. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • UCLA Weyburn | Los Angeles, CA
    From parking lot to urban tour-de-force. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Mercado District | Tucson, Arizona
    A timeless place from the ground up. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

Led by local experts, City As Platform sessions are hands-on, immersive learning sessions that bring together community groups, neighborhood residents, CNU Congress attendees, and national experts for in-the-field collaboration on the challenges and successes of Seattle-area communities.

City As Platform sessions are designed to address fine-scaled urbanism and can take many forms: group dialogues on neighborhood-specific issues, hands-on workshops intended to solve a local problem, interactive group brainstorms, and more. Sessions typically last three (3) hours — including travel to and from the host neighborhood — and take place in neighborhoods across Seattle.

Let us know which City as Platform session you plan to attend—Sign-up today!


Saturday, May 6

How Green Stormwater Infrastructure Can Help Urban Neighborhoods Thrive
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Neighborhood: Belltown

Belltown is the nation’s 6th fastest growing neighborhood. The community is taking the opportunity to promote sustainable economic development while retaining the neighborhood’s cultural richness and promoting an urban ecology vision. One of the ways to meet these multiple goals is with green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) tools, such as bioretention, green walls, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting.

Seattle’s Belltown is an ideal laboratory for expanding GSI to meet multiple community outcomes. Seattle 2030 District, a non-profit sustainable building organization, together with Growing Vine Street and Project Belltown, lead a tour of existing community projects, future visions, and intersections with the waterfront redevelopment projects. Afterward, engage in a discussion that explores how to scale these efforts so neighborhoods can use GSI to extend enhance their community while also meeting city and regional stormwater management goals.

Amy Waterman, 2030 District


Gentrification & The Threat To Black Churches In Central Seattle
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Neighborhood: Central District

With the Seattle’s rapid growth and development, many long-time residents face the threat of displacement. In the Central District, there is an urgent need to slow cultural displacement and a desire for solutions that can preserve a diverse community. Churches and neighborhood groups from the Central District are proposing a strategic plan to do just that, by engaging in the community-led development (and re-development) of land owned by predominately Black churches.

This is innovative model of having churches engage in the development of their own property delivers multiple benefits:

  1. Provides affordable housing for congregations, helping to retain existing residents
  2. Proving income for church programs through housing and retail space rental
  3. Stabilizing affordable rents to retain small, local businesses

This in-the-field session seeks to demystify development for members of the Seattle’s Black clergy, residents, and session participants, empowering each with a new, local model of development—and an alternative to displacement.

Donald King, Mimar Studio


Crossing The Canyon: Designing Freeway Lids To Reconnect Seattle
Time: 9:00AM – 12:00 PM
Neighborhood: Downtown

Seattle’s densest and most active neighborhoods have long been divided by the Interstate 5. As vacant land disappears, real estate values increase, and the need for public infrastructure grows, lidding over the freeway for parks, affordable housing, a downtown school, and other uses becomes a viable way to connect long-separated neighborhoods.

Join the Lid I-5 Steering Committee and Freeway Park Association for a tour of Freeway Park, the first lid park in Seattle and among the first in the nation. Experience the on-the-ground conditions the freeway imposes on local communities. Then, participate in a “mini-charrette” exploring the challenges and opportunities of freeway lids for central Seattle, based on local context and nationwide case studies. The workshop’s goal is to produce recommendations for the scope of an upcoming lid feasibility study, conceptual lid designs, and improvements to the existing Freeway Park

Learn more at www.lidi5.org.

Scott Bonjukian—Lid I-5 Steering Committee


Rainier Arts Center (Re)Design: Arts & Community
Time: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Neighborhood: Columbia City

Located at the gateway to the Columbia City Historic District in Southeast Seattle, the Rainier Arts Center (RAC) is an iconic cultural community asset. The facility was purchased in 1997 by SouthEast Effective Development (SEED), and has since operated as an arts venue and community facility. As one of the few affordable spaces in this rapidly gentrifying community, SEED is approaching the modernization of the building, mindful of its mission to provide a performing arts venue and a community-serving space for events and groups.  Moreover, this community anchor needs to financially perform for long-term sustainability.

Preservationists, designers, and artists: Join SEED and fellow Congress participants to help identify multi-purpose improvements that better serve the organization’s programmatic and financial objectives. Preserving the building’s historic character is key! This hands-on workshop will result in a series of design recommendations to help guide future planning and renovation efforts.

Jeanne LeDuc, SEED


Lake City Future First: Activating Public Space
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00PM
Neighborhood: Lake City

Join Lake City Future First as they develop a more consistent and robust activation of the 125th Street Lake City Mini Park. During a brief tour, learn about current programming at the 125th Street Lake City Mini Park and the barriers to activation in this particular park. Then, collaborate with Lake City Future First leadership to brainstorm, sketch, and discuss new activation approaches with Tactical Urbanism experts.

Chris Leverson, Lake City Future First


King Street Enhanced Greenway: Reimagining Our Rights To Our Rights-Of-Way
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Neighborhood: International District

In dense, urban environments, we need to look beyond public space as a single-solution. The planned construction of Seattle's King Street Greenway is an opportunity for the City of Seattle's Department of Transportation, neighborhood community groups, and sustainability think-tanks to collaborate on a demonstration project that can expand what our city-designated Greenways and Green Streets can be.

Join the International Living Future Institute, national greenway experts, and your fellow Congress attendees in a workshop exploring how organizations can collaborate and prioritize multi-purpose projects within their rights-of-way and kick start a new kind of planning process.

Marisa Hagney, Living Future Institute


Sharing Seattle: How To Create Housing That Fosters Radical Sharing
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00PM
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

The Seattle housing market is dominated by traditional ownership and building forms that create a sharp divide between owner and renter, which can often atomize us and isolate us within our individual housing units. Increasingly, there is a demand for the shared wealth, shared experience, and sense of community that cooperative and cohousing provide, and yet they currently represent only a small fraction of the Seattle housing.

After a tour of the Capitol Hill Cohousing Project, participants will actively discuss ways housing can fosters radical sharing, meaning shared economic well-being as well as a shared sense of community and purpose. Additionally, local advocates will leverage participants’ expertise to explore cooperative housing and cohousing, working, together to uncover ways to magnify these models in Seattle and beyond.

Specific discussion topics include:

  • Critique and “stress testing” of the emergent cooperative housing concept.  We hope this takes the form of a sort of business plan charrette.
  • Money! What are the sources of both equity and debt for these sorts of projects?  Are there finance models in use elsewhere that we could replicate?
  • Organizations to emulate: what are others doing successfully that we can replicate?
  • Policy: what sort of policies have other communities implemented that support the creation of this type of housing?
  • Market revolution: are there developers trying to create aspects of coops or cohousing in the projects they develop? Why or why not?  Are they successful?
  • Building form: how can building design foster a sense of community and cohesion in a dense urban setting?

Grace Kim, Schemata Workshop / Boyd Pickrell, Coho Community Housing


This year's City As Platform is supported by:

University of Notre Dame