Call for Entries: Towards A Region Of Short Distances

Registration date:


Submission date:




Before the Second World War, central Puget Sound cities grew around neighborhood nodes that were naturally limited to walkable radii around transit access. Development after the 1940s prioritized automobile mobility. Automobile dependence became a hallmark of late-20th and early-21st century American life, and the Seattle metro area is no exception.

Much of the area within the central Puget Sound Urban Growth Area is auto-dependent. Strip-mall highways surround miles of cul-de-sac subdivisions in suburbs such as Mill Creek and Maple Valley. Even some older neighborhoods within Seattle city limits such as Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Magnolia, and Beacon Hill have vast areas that are not conventionally walkable due to single-use neighborhoods, highways, and terrain. As we densify without improving walkability, automobile dependence increases, and further strain is placed on our infrastructure.

As we move toward independence from automobiles, the structure of our urban environment must change so that no urban places are dependent on the automobile. In a post-coronavirus world, this strategy of short distances is important for public health to reduce the viral transmission that naturally occurs at large, amalgamated suburban centers.

A microneighborhood is a small concentration of services, businesses, and third places, ideally served by transit. It exists separate from other urban structures such as corridors, larger neighborhood centers, or downtowns. It provides a central place for an otherwise homogeneous single-use neighborhood, and increases the walkability of an otherwise unserved residential area.

Our region already has many small microneighborhoods of varying sizes, forms, and levels of income. These are typically a block or two long; even single buildings such as corner stores can provide central places in what are otherwise unwalkable areas, and serve as. Please refer to the “Resources” section for a list of these emerging neighborhood nodes in Greater Seattle.

Design Challenge: How do we incrementally reshape our region to eradicate urban automobile dependency? A “City of Short Distances”, in which most needs of daily life are a short walk or bike-ride away, is the logical path forward for our region. We seek ideas that explore seeding areas of the greater Seattle region plagued by poor walkability with incrementally developed “microneighborhoods” at walkable intervals to restructure our region.

Eligibility: This competition is open internationally and to individuals or teams. Participants may only contribute to one proposal.

The competition is open to established and emerging design teams and individuals. Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged. Possibilities include any combination of designers, developers, planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, transit users, small business owners, people who live in neighborhoods, people who don’t live in neighborhoods, and the like.

Submission Requirements: Proposals must be submitted by 11:59 pm, Pacific Time on September 18, 2020. If the submission is from a team, the proposal should be submitted once and by one team member. Once the proposal is submitted no changes, additions, or alterations can be made.

A complete submission will contain the following:

If proposing an alternate site, a complete submission will also include the following:

Incomplete entries will be disqualified. Winners may be asked to submit original files for exhibit and publication purposes.

Please refrain from putting any personal/identifiable information on the submitted boards or in the design abstract.

*By completing your submission, you agree that AIA Seattle has the rights to publish all materials submitted in both online and promotional media. AIA Seattle will credit authorship to you and your team members. You also hereby warrant that the submission is original and that you and any teammates are its author(s).

Download the information related to this competition here.