15 Minute City

15 Minute City graphic that shows how many different destinations you could get to quickly

Everyone should have access to their daily needs within a short walk. Cities around the world used to be based on this principle, but then many, including Seattle, lost their way by remaking cities to be car dependent. Now, this idea, called 15 Minute Cities, is making a come back. It has a huge potential to make Seattle a safer, healthier, more equitable, more sustainable, and more enjoyable place to live.

Update: Our panel was a big success. If you missed it, click here to watch the replay

 

Recipes For Walkability

A Forum on 15 Minute Cities


What:
Walking towards a 15 Minute City
When:
6:00-7:30 PM, Thursday June 10th
Other events: This event is part of a serious hosted by AIA Seattle. Click here to see other events in the series.

Panelists

Dhyana Quintanar Solares is a mobility, public space and urban design expert with 15 years of experience in the public, non-profit and private sectors. Dhyana relocated to Seattle in 2019 from Mexico City to join WSP, where she is the Seattle Office Lead, bringing social impact ideas to deliver complex urban projects that can maximize public benefit. Prior to joining WSP she led the Authority of Public Space of Mexico City, where she was responsible for the transformation of 125 acres into more livable, equitable, safe and iconic places. Other previous roles in Mexico City included leading the City’s Transportation Planning and Roads office and serving as Mexico City’s first bicycle coordinator where she implemented ECOBICI, the first automated public bikeshare system in the Americas.

 

Jeffrey Hou, Associate Professor/Chair, Landscape Architecture

Jeff Hou is Professor of Landscape Architecture and director of the Urban Commons Lab at the University of Washington, Seattle. His work focuses on civic engagement, community design, public space and democracy, and design activism. Hou is recognized for his pioneering writings on guerrilla urbanism and bottom-up placemaking, with collaborative publications including Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (2010), which received the EDRA Great Places Book Award in 2012. During the pandemic, he has focused on mutual aid efforts among the marginalized social groups with involvement in projects including the Seattle Street Sink.

 

Radhika Nair is an urban planner with more than 10 years of experience in the Puget Sound region. She has a multidisciplinary background in policy research and analysis, land use planning, and community engagement. At BERK, Radhika manages a variety of projects including community and subarea plans, housing studies, economic development plans, and park system plans; she also implements culturally relevant engagement with diverse communities. Radhika’s focus, and what she enjoys most about her job, has been her work to integrate equity and social justice into decision- and policy-making to effect change that benefits BIPOC, impoverished communities, immigrant or minority communities, and other groups.

 

Shannon Nichol is a founding partner of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). Her designs, including Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, and the Burke Museum, are widely recognized for being deeply embedded in their neighborhoods and natural contexts. She and her partners received the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Architecture in 2011, and GGN is the recipient of the 2017 ASLA National Landscape Architecture Firm Award. Shannon lectures internationally, frequently juries for design awards, and serves on advisory committees for universities and nonprofits.

 

Moderated By

David Goldberg has played a key role in developing national movements for smart growth and transportation reform. He led communications and strategy for Smart Growth America, a national nonprofit based in DC and for their spin-off, Transportation for America. He currently works at the Washington State Transportation Department, is the Board President for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and serves on the Seattle Planning Commission.

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about 15 Minute Cities

  • Can we have a 15 Minute City without accessible sidewalks or spaces that are free of harassment? No. Even a city that has everything someone needs within a short walking distance is not a functional 15 Minute city if people do not feel safe or comfortable traveling. Their path must be accessible to people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and races.
  • Will this mean a top-down technocratic approach to how Seattle grows? No. The concept can, and should, be co-created with communities. How we change and grow as a city is always a difficult and complex conversation that needs to center equity. A 15 Minute Othello neighborhood has different needs than a 15 Minute Ballard neighborhood. We agree. While the underlying idea, that everyone should be able to walk or roll to all their daily needs, is the same, how it works in practice will be different in different neighborhoods.
  • Is this just another European-centric idea being forced on an American city? No. Historically cities from every part of the world, including Seattle, were built around walking distances. Sometimes this happened through careful planning, other times it simply happened organically, but the idea was universal. It was the bulldozing of walkable cities for highways and sprawl that redefined how far apart people and destinations were. So in many ways, this is simply rebranding of an ancient concept.
  • Seattle could never be like _____ (insert city). In its earliest days, Seattle was a 15 Minute City, so we have already been here before. Furthermore, Seattle will grow and change, the question is how. We believe a 15 Minute City concept should be one of the principles that guides this change.
  • Does this mean ____ neighborhood will have everything with a short walk even though it’s extremely car-dependent right now? Eventually, that’s the idea. Some neighborhoods are further along than others.
  • What about having destinations within a 15 Minute train ride or bike ride instead? That’s a different concept than the 15 Minute City which is about walking and rolling (wheelchairs), but it’s also important to think about.
  • Does this mean land uses will need to change? Likely in many places.
  • Read more from our intern who conducted research on the idea last year.