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The Sustainable City

When I was approached by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine to contribute to this month’s issue commemorating the 1962 World’s Fair, I was asked to “dream 50 years into the  future”. It was an intriguing idea, and I said sure why not. A series of questions were poised to a diverse group: Seattle premier chef Tom Douglas and former city councilman/architect Peter Steinbrueck, were asked to imagine a 2012 version of the World’s Fair; Erik Lindbergh, X Prize Foundation Board member and founder of Lindbergh Electric Airplane Prize, Dr. Leroy Hood, founder of the Institute for Systems Biology and I were asked to describe Seattle 50 years from now. The vision as captured in the magazine is quite varied and a fun read.

My piece entitled, The Sustainable City, describes a “Seattle Wild” where we have taken back the land by ripping up most of the pavement and by re-injecting the once powerful Northwest landscape back into our city. It also illustrates a more environmentally self sufficient urban lifestyle supported by a wide array of eco-technologies. The image describing natural swales encompassing stream beds, storm water courses, pedestrian/bike paths, and recreation corridors that would course through the city was one of a series which was part of Miller/Hull’s submission to the Living Urban Futures Competition last year.

The reporter didn’t mention my position at UW, which is unfortunate, but he got most of it right, which I was happy to discover. I did propose many other ideas that would be fun to discuss another time.  My proposals are at once both a fantasy and an achievable reality worthy of the 1962 World’s Fair, Century 21, slogan, “World of Tomorrow”.

David Miller is the Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington and teaches graduate design studios and a graduate lecture course on architectural design development. He is a founding Principal with the Miller/Hull Partnership, Architecture & Planning, designing commercial, institutional, and residential projects. Miller/Hull has received over ninety regional and national awards for excellence in architectural design, including twenty-four Seattle Chapter AIA awards.

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