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Climate Council 2019: Seattle Region

July 17–19

All photography courtesy Marina Piedade

To foster collaboration between the Council and the community of academics and experts, Van Alen partnered with Professor Edward Allison of the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs.

SMEA student and science communications specialist, Brittany Hoedemaker, wrote a synopsis on the Council’s exploration:

With bustling waterfronts, famous seafood markets, a robust culinary scene, and an estuary rich with marine life, the Puget Sound region seems to be the picture of seafood security. But look closer at the web of people, the sea, and the climate, and the fragility and vulnerability of this system comes to light.

Over a three-day trip, from July 17-19, 2019, Van Alen Climate Council members visited this region to explore the seafood supply chain from ocean to table. The Seattle trip comes on the heels of the Council’s first installment of “Designing the Future of Food” in California’s Central Valley, where they saw firsthand the complex interplay of structural, social, and environmental issues that underpin the agricultural system. In Seattle, the Council shifted their focus from land-based agricultural systems to engage in a systems assessment of the seafood supply chain.



Van Alen Institute’s Climate Council is a platform for exchange for leading architects, landscape architects, engineers, planners, researchers, philanthropic partners, and other professionals. The Climate Council’s purpose is to investigate critical climate-related issues, inspire change-making design projects that can improve the environment and promote healthy communities, produce mindset changes regarding climate issues, and guide Van Alen’s innovative public programming, research, and design competitions.

Van Alen believes that a resilient environment is key to human well-being and the protection of critical natural systems. Therefore, the Climate Council will look beyond cities to our continent’s rapidly changing landscapes and ecosystems. Through carefully curated trips, participants will explore the effects of climate change and related environmental crises first-hand. With this exposure, they will be able to respond more effectively and proactively through their work and personal advocacy.

The Climate Council builds on Van Alen’s successful International Council model in that it fosters a collaborative and congenial setting for exploration and reflection away from the traditional practice.

The Council is led by Claire Weisz, Climate Council Co-Chair, Principal-in-Charge, WXY Studio  and Mark Johnson, Climate Council Co-Chair, President, Civitas. Other members include architects, landscape architects, engineers, environmentally minded companies, researchers, designers, and philanthropic partners.