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McKinley Futures Studio

Each year, the McKinley Futures Studio invites students to participate in a cross-disciplinary studio dedicated to a specific region or topic related to the future of the built environment. Taught by at least two faculty from different CBE disciplines, students are tasked with producing projects that generate research-based hypothetical design scenarios and are challenged to consider larger problems facing society—health, the environment, the economy, science, and technology.

This intensive quarter requires students to consult with, and be critiqued by, experts outside of the design fields—lawyers, environmental experts, healthcare providers, and business leaders. They use the perspectives and feedback to develop potential solutions, and present their findings and proposals at an end of year critique.

Autumn 2021 McKinley Futures Studio:

Nehemiah Interdisciplinary Studio: Building Beloved Community, taught by Rachel Berney, UDP + Donald King, Architecture + Al Levine, Real Estate

This is an interdisciplinary studio focused on developing, designing, and supporting real estate, urban design, and community development strategies in partnership with the Nehemiah Initiative for Black churches and institutions in Seattle.


The ill effects of rapid socioeconomic change have perhaps impacted the Central District (CD) more so than any other area in Seattle. Gentrification and displacement of the Black population has reached crisis levels as the percentage of African Americans living in the CD has declined from 73% in 1970 to less than 14% today. Seattle is losing the largest contiguous Black neighborhood north of California and, now, some of the most enduring institutions in the CD—the historically Black churches—face difficult decisions about whether to stay or to go.

Collectively, the churches own land throughout the CD. And, as a network, they could support each other in making more deliberate and strategic real-estate decisions. This vision is moving forward as the Nehemiah Initiative Seattle. The Initiative is a multi-pronged anti-displacement initiative to explore means and methods to mitigate gentrification and displacement through the development of the significant real estate assets of historically Black churches and institutions. The Initiative seeks to develop affordable mixed-use projects according to community needs and desires with the goal to retain, bring back, and attract new residents and tenants.


Previous McKinley Futures Studios

Winter 2021“Resilient Cities on the Pacific Rim” taught by Dan Abramson, UDP + Ken Tadashi Oshima, Architecture

Spring 2019“Transformative Urban Futures” taught by Marina Alberti, UDP + Sofia Dermisi, Real Estate + Chris Lee, Construction Management + David Miller, Architecture + Ken Yocom, Landscape Architecture

Spring 2018– “Mexico City: Towards a Resilient City” taught by Robert Hutchison, Architecture + Jeff Hou, Landscape Architecture

Spring 2017“Restructuring the Future City” taught by Rick Mohler, Architecture + Julie Parrett, Landscape Architecture

Spring 2016“Smart Cities and Urban Productivity” taught by Gundula Proksch, Architecture + Ken Yocom, Landscape Architecture

Spring 2015“Cities within Cities” taught by David Miller, Architecture + Ben Spencer, Landscape Architecture

Spring 2014“Cities on Water” taught by Daniel Friedman, Architecture