Design Swarms

Brainstorming breakthrough ideas calls for a breakthrough brainstorming method

For this important brainstorming opportunity, we turned to Surya Vanka, a former Microsoft design leader, a tenured industrial design professor at the University of Illinois, and the originator of the Design Swarms process. For our Design Swarms, Surya — and partners from the School of Visual Concepts — led teams of downtown stakeholders through a series of exercises using an online whiteboard to generate more than 750 ideas. The teams then narrowed down their own work to top contenders, which you’re now invited to view and provide feedback on. See the top Revitalize Downtown concepts.

Toward the end of the brainstorming sessions, five teams sort their ideas to land on concepts that are both innovative and feasible.

Zoom screenshot, participants are waiving

Each Design Swarm session was fueled by more than two dozen business and nonprofit leaders, downtown residents, city and county planning experts, and everyday Seattleites.

Surya Vanka

DSA brainstorming sessions were led by Surya Vanka, former Microsoft design leader, University of Illinois professor, and originator of the Design Swarms process.

Participants

  • Erin Adams, Seattle Made, Executive Director
  • Fina Araya, Downtown Seattle Association, Director, Marketing & Creative Services
  • Rebecca Arbeene, Northbound, Account Director
  • Anthony Auriemma, Starbucks, Senior Manager Government Affairs
  • Mary Bacarella, Pike Place Market, Executive Director
  • Jonathan Bahe, NBBJ, Senior Associate
  • Lesley Bain, Framework Cultural Placemaking, Urban Planner/Architect
  • Meru Belbayeva, Urban Renaissance Group, Leasing Associate
  • Lyle Bicknell, City of Seattle, Urban Designer
  • Candace Buchanan, Bloodworks Northwest, Creative & Brand Strategist
  • Amixa-Ray Calzado, University of Washington, UW Design Masters Student
  • Brian Cannon, Downtown Seattle Association, Senior Safety Manager
  • Megan Ching, Seattle Monorail, General Manager
  • Merissa Claridge, Von’s, Managing Director
  • Cary Clark, Argosy Cruises, Partner/Owner
  • Jim Copacino, Copacino + Fujikado, Principal/Executive Creative Director
  • Annie DeLucchi, Concierge Guild of Seattle, President/Community Relations Manager
  • Libby Dover, Dover Entertainment, Owner/Event Producer
  • Liz Dunn, Dunn + Hobbes Consulting, Owner
  • Laura Durgerian, Mithun, Urban Designer/Landscape Architect
  • Michael Ellsworth, Civilization, Partner
  • Mark Embry, MarkyBoy Productions, Digital Content Creator
  • Marshall Foster, Seattle Office of Waterfront & Civic Projects, Director
  • Ben Franz-Knight, Shields Oblitz Johnsen, Senior Project Manager
  • Bill Gaylord, Gaylord Art & Design, Founder
  • Seth Geiser, Downtown Seattle Association, Manager, Urban Planning & Design
  • Michael George, Kidder Matthews, Senior Project Manager
  • Emily George, KPFF Consulting Engineers, Principal
  • Ali Ghambari, Cherry Street Coffee, Owner
  • Ben Grace, Amazon, Manager Community Marketing & Internal Events
  • Michael Greer, ArtsFund, President & CEO
  • Bernie Griffin, 5th Avenue Theater, Managing Director, Downtown Resident
  • Jacqueline Gruber, Vulcan, Public Policy Director
  • Joyce Halldorson, Charter Hotel by Hilton, Concierge/Small Business Owner
  • Shellie Hart, WARM 106.9, Radio Personality
  • Adrienne Hixon, Nordstrom, Retail Store Manager
  • Magda Hogness, City of Seattle, Urban Designer/Architect/Strategic Advisor
  • Alex Hudson, Transportation Choices Coalition, Executive Director
  • Zarina Infante, Commute Seattle, Transportation Specialist
  • Paul Ishii, Alpenglow/Global Travel, Retired/Volunteer
  • Janel Jensen, Unico Properties, Director Leasing
  • Troy Johnson, Paramount Theater (Formerly), Security/Tour Guide
  • Mark Karason, Concierge Connectivity, Strategist, Downtown Resident
  • Kelly Kost, Downtown Works, Retail Strategist
  • Elliott Krivenko, Downtown Seattle Association, Senior Research Manager
  • Holger Kuehnle, Artefact, Executive Creative Director
  • Josh Lackey, Vulcan Real Estate, Senior Marketing Manager
  • Barb Larimer, Self-Employed Marketing & Sales Consultant
  • Lauren Lema, Bank of America, Relationship Manager/Commercial Real Estate
  • Rob Leslie, Visit Seattle, Director, Partnership & Destination Services
  • Jeffrey Lin, Starbucks, Store Manager, Community Inclusion & Diversity
  • Amelia Marckworth, Seattle University, Adjunct Professor Albers School of Business
  • Shannon McCafferty, Shannon McCafferty Design, Principal
  • Midge McCauley, Downtown Works, Principal
  • Fran McDonald, PCC, Retail Market Program Manager
  • Laura Muñoz, University of Washington, UW Design Masters Student
  • Devon Nicholls, Continental Mills, Art Director
  • Andreea Niculescu, One and Three, Strategist
  • Lisa Nitze, Nitze-Stagen, VP, Marketing/Investment/Community Partnerships
  • Kathy O’Kelley, Hines, SVP Property Management
  • Bridget Perez, Continental Mills, Director, Creative Services
  • Josh Pitney, Substantial, Senior Designer
  • Chris Poullos, Mario’s, Manager Store Operations
  • Rico Quirindongo, City of Seattle, Office of Planning & Community Development
  • Joe Riley, Colliers, Senior Vice President
  • Victoria Rodriguez, Microsoft, Product Manager
  • Annabelle Rosborough, Downtown Seattle Association, Public Space Program Manager
  • Deborah Ross, Pine Street Group, Director of Leasing
  • Maria Royer, Real Retail, Principal
  • Richa Ruchita, Copacino + Fujikado, Senior Strategist
  • Will Rush, University of Washington, MBA Student, UW Foster School of Business and Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Jon Scholes, Downtown Seattle Association, President & CEO
  • Mason Sherry, Seattle Theatre Group, Managing Director
  • Ted Sive, Watson Kennedy, CFO
  • Leslie Smith, Vulcan, Senior Director Government Affairs
  • Roslyn Solomon, What’s Next Washington, Board President, Downtown Resident
  • Coleen Spratt, Spratt Asset Advisory Services, Owner/CEO
  • Stan Suchan, WSDOT, Project Manager
  • Brian Surratt, Alexandria Real Estate, VP/Real Estate Development & Community Relations
  • Jessa Timmer, Alliance for Pioneer Square, Deputy Director
  • Melissa Tizon, Providence St. Joseph Health, AVP National Communication, Downtown Resident
  • Diane Torrance, Providence St. Joseph Health, Retired
  • Carolyn Tow, Downtown Seattle Association, Director, Member Relations
  • Karen True, Alliance for Pioneer Square, Economic Development Director
  • Sarah Udelhofen Commute Seattle, Senior Transportation Specialist
  • Justin Umagat, Huitt-Zollars, Senior Project Manager
  • Sabrina Villanueva, Clise Properties, Inc., Director, Property Manager
  • Karen Weigelt, Nordstrom, Senior Project Manager, Downtown Resident
  • Jim Werth, Ivar’s, Former Director of Marketing
  • Sally Wright, Downtown Seattle Association, VP, Communications & Marketing
  • Evelyn Yenson, Washington Lottery, Retired, Downtown Resident