From Process to Product: An Analysis of Seattle's Design Review Program
Cutler, Scott Richard
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As Seattle continues to boom, the city is experiencing significant pressures to densify and grow to accommodate new residents and businesses. Seattle’s Design Review Program reviews many of these new developments through an extensive public process with guidance from City staff, appointed board members, and other sources. This thesis explores the effectiveness of the Design Review Program in meeting its goals of encouraging quality projects, allowing for flexibility, and engaging the community. In order to do this, a comprehensive case study approach was taken to examine the way in which various influencing factors affect how building designs change as applicants move through the process. A thorough analysis of public comments, Design Review Board deliberations, submitted project design materials, local media articles, and planner interviews revealed an unpredictable process that is often confusing to navigate, particularly for community members, and is burdensome on applicants. While the existing system has its merits, it is clear that inefficiencies exist and that there are some possible solutions, though they may be difficult to implement.
- Urban planning