Environmental Works Community Design Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit community-based architectural firm, founded to provide professional architectural and planning services to non-profit organizations, municipal agencies and under-represented communities in the Puget Sound area. Since our founding in 1970 we have provided feasibility/predevelopment studies and complete architectural services for human services agencies, community facilities, affordable housing providers, and public art projects.
Working in both the public and private sectors, the staff of Environmental Works understand the need for community involvement, the impacts of having multiple funding sources, and ways of working effectively with pre-established budgets.
Environmental Works is committed to the effective use of capital funds in creating sustainable communities. We pride ourselves on providing quality architecture within this challenging framework and working to see that the ultimate social purpose of the building is well-served in each architectural design. In addition, Environmental Works has a long-standing commitment to socially and environmentally sustainable design. As a result of our ongoing Sustaining Affordable Communities grant-funded initiative, we have developed a number of successful strategies for designing ecologically thoughtful and affordable buildings. These strategies are based on three core issues – conserving resources, promoting local economies (human, material and natural) and the careful adaptation of a building to both the natural and cultural conditions of the site.
Our office is organized in three studios - housing, community facilities and special projects. Each studio is headed by an experienced architect who have been with our organization for more than twenty years each. Bill Singer is our Housing Studio lead, Sally Knodell is our Community Facilities lead, and Dan Baldner leads our Special Projects studio. Mike Mackie is our quality control lead and building envelope expert and moves between all of the studios advising on key parts of projects. We work in teams within the office with more experienced staff architects heading up the teams and working closely with support staff and consultants. Our goal is to provide consistent project representation during the entire project. There is continuity of staffing throughout the project with back up provided within the firm when needed.
Environmental Works was founded to provide professional architectural and planning service to those under-served by the profession. Throughout our history, we have assisted hundreds of organizations in achieving their facility-needs goals.
Environmental Works’ services include:
Existing condition surveys/capital needs assessments
Community design workshops
Budgeting and scheduling
Complete architectural services
Environmentally sensitive design (LEED and other)
Socially responsible design (SEED)
For more information on our history and work, please continue exploring our website, or read this 2011 Seattle Times profile of Environmental Works.
In 1970 the University of Washington resembled most campuses of the time – groups of students gathering, planning and protesting. But one group of students was different, meeting instead with several professors to figure out how to tackle local urban issues of the day through architecture and design. Those students took to heart Whitney M. Young’s keynote address at the 1968 AIA national convention:
"We are not at a loss in our society for the know-how. We have the technology. We have the scientific know-how. We have the resources. We are at a loss for the will…You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights, and I am sure this does not come to you as any shock. You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance."
On the first Earth Day (April 22, 1970), Environmental Works was born to help those organizations and initiatives that needed professional expertise to launch, preserve and sustain communities throughout greater Seattle. Its first act as an organization was to take up residence at Fire Station 7, where we still operate today, in an effort to save the building from razing. Despite a shoestring budget and an all-volunteer staff, the early days filled quickly with community meetings and collaborative urban design solutions.
From a group of eager students and professors to today’s staff of architects and designers, Environmental Works has evolved into a modern community design center that serves nonprofit and institutional clients across the state of Washington, in both fee-for-service capacities and the no-fee projects supported by the Community Design Fund. Each of our projects, from feasibility to completion, embodies the philosophy of our early days as described by founding board member Dale Miller: “Bringing the resources, information and education needed to communities with limited resources so that they could control the planning, design and development of their own communities.”