After several guided tours organized by the Seattle Architecture foundation, we wanted to know more about this foundation, these guides who share with us their passion for the city, its buildings, and its history.

Stacy Segal works for the Seattle Architecture foundation and kindly hosted us.

Denny Regrade

Can you tell us more about the Foundation?

We are three paid employees and many volunteers. Five years ago, we created this building: The Center for Architecture and Design. We share it with the AIA (American Institute of Architects) which provides professional training for architects. We are in the same space which allows us to organize events with them.

What is your first goal?

To educate the public, adult, and children, build appreciation for architecture, teach people our history about the city through a using architecture as a lens. Kids can be stewards of their city. How to make sure their city grows in the best way as possible. We teach them about design, social issues, climate change; how design makes life better for people.

Former Seattle Times Building

Which programs do you have?

We want to introduce kids to architecture especially kids who may not know that architecture may be a career for them. A lot of women are architects now, which is great. We want kids realize that they are living in a community and that with their skills they can change things.

We are working with public and private schools. We do summer camp, workshops on weekends. Once a month, architecture firm hosts us, so older kids can visit an architecture office; they are able to tour in the offices and work on a project for the day and they present their model. We also offer family programs, they are shorter.

How do you train volunteer who lead tours?

They have one day training. We have guides who are architects so they can teach the others. We train them to be comfortable with the public and how to speak in front of a group. Volunteers do research and put scripts. They learn from more senior guides, by accompanying them on tours for up to a year.  

We develop new tours every year, some of these decisions are based of guests’ feedback & surveys. This helps us change and refresh the tours. It is very hard to make a tour in 2 hours; that is enough time for most audiences, but too short for the guide who has a lot to share!

How do you raise money?

We raise money mostly from fundraisings, grants, like the, NEA and 4Culture. As a charitable organization non-profit, we are governed by a volunteer board. They are setting the mission, vision, direction but a large job is fundraising, they are now raising money for next year.

We receive money from sponsors, individual, memberships, engineering, donation, contracts with schools, tours. We have also an investment fund, and we are lucky to have that.

Do you work with other cities?

There is another organization called: AAO Association of Architecture Organizations in Chicago; Chicago is the largest architecture foundation. Everybody looks to them for guidance.  But you have also New-York, Boston, San Francisco, all groups have their own programs and do different things.

We meet them every year, there is a conference. Last year we hosted it in Seattle. We have similar challenges. The group also has a website, send newsletters, and creates a forum of other architecture groups we can talk to.

Most of the architecture organizations are very small even though we do a lot.

Seattle Tower

Upcoming projects or events?

We are doing tours for 30 years and tours were our first program, so we will celebrate this year. I don’t have a date but there is a Mobile tour in process.  We want people to be able to take their own tour, although It won’t replace our guided tours. The App is based off of a guidebook we produced which is being turned into an app.   

Can you introduce yourself?

I grew up in the Mid-West, St-Louis Missouri. I went to college in Chicago. My husband is an architect, he has worked with well-known architects in Europe and introduced me to architecture.  He is also a volunteer for SAF and leads tours, such as SAF’s new Denny Triangle tour.

We have been in Seattle for about 15 years, we have been living in South Lake Union for 10 years and we have seen a lots of changes, there was nothing there when we moved here. We are urban people and welcome the change and growth.

I don’t have a professional architecture background, I’ve learned a lot from my husband, our travels and SAF programs. My background is from the nonprofit sector, I have been a fundraiser, I have worked for YMCA and also for social causes.  I enjoy working with volunteers, and when this job comes up, it was very interesting to me. I spend most of my life working with volunteers, public audience and people interested in design. So, I took this job because I thought it was an organization that I could connect with and be passionate about.

Interviewed by Emmanuelle

Seattle Architecture Foundation offers tours throughout the year, check out their website for more information: Seattle Architecture Fondation and register for the next visit, as soon as they start again, we’ll see you there!