Metropolis Editor Susan Szenasy Talks Seattle Design

Susan Szenasy has been the editor in chief of Metropolis magazine, a New York-based publication devoted to world design and architecture, for almost 30 years. She is an internationally recognized authority on sustainability and design, and sits on the board of organizations like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the Landscape Architecture Foundation. Susan recently came to Seattle to share a dialogue with an interested audience at an overflowing Seattle Design Festival event at Cornish College. I had an opportunity to sit down with Susan the morning after the event and hear a bit more about why she thinks the next big thing in art and architecture will come out of Seattle.

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Working in Twisp (Part One)

The town of Twisp is fewer than fifty miles south of the Canadian border. It spans an entire 1.18 square miles and has a population of 900 living in the surrounding National Forest area. Located in Washington’s Okanogan County, Twisp is surrounded by the Cascade Mountains, the joining of the Twisp and Methow rivers, and over a million acres of federally-protected forests. There is a history of hard-working people who respect the land, and respect the industries that thrive on it – particularly the Forest Service. Twisp is the original Old West town of Washington, and its past is paving the way for a future built on community and creativity.

Here is where there was
The site of the former Twisp Forest Service headquarters building recognizes its historical  importance to the Methow Valley.

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Wakuda Studios’ Jonathan Wakuda Fischer

Anyone walking by the Dexter-Denny intersection lately probably won’t notice the large orange and black mural that’s gone up within the last couple of weeks on the sides of 90.3 FM KEXP.  In fact, many of the studio’s neighbors don’t know there is a radio station there at all – the gray concrete one-story block, affectionately called the Berlin Wall, looks far too small to house the approximately 80 employees and 200 volunteers they have on rotation to keep the non-profit studio running smoothly.

I got a chance to take a break from preparations for the fall fundraising drive to talk with artist Jonathan Wakuda Fischer as he put the finishing touches on the mural. He has been a longtime listener and donor to KEXP since he moved to Washington from Wisconsin 8 years ago. “I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist before I came to Seattle,” Jonathan says, “I found my creative self here.”

The mural features many Seattle icons - the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and great music. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord
The mural features many Seattle icons – the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and great music. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord

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Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms

The Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) started in November 1979 as an emergency overnight shelter in the ballroom of the Morrison Hotel in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. A small staff served nearly 200 chronically homeless Seattle adults that, “due to their severe and persistent mental and addictive illnesses, were not being served by the existing shelters of the time,” according to their website. Over the next decade, DESC partnered with the City of Seattle, the Greater Seattle Council of Churches, and Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill to assess the shortages in providing resources for the vulnerable homeless people in the community. The organization rallied in 1984 to create the first severe weather overflow shelter in King County.

Photo credit: David Entrikin
Photo credit: David Entrikin

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