So which city – Seattle or Vancouver – has the best built environment? It was the subject of The Great Debate – this year’s  annual VIA Architecture Lecture on urban design, hosted by the SFU City Program.  (Because the firm that sponsors the lecture is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and because it has offices in both Seattle and Vancouver, it seemed like a good way to acknowledge the occasion.)

We recruited Peter Steinbrueck, an ex-councillor in Seattle and an architect, to face off against this ex-councillor.  But with a twist.  We each had to argue the merits of the other’s city.

You can see the debate in Vancouver here:

Debate Round 1

And the debate in Seattle here:

Debate Round 2

Knute Berger, the Crosscut columnist, did a great job in summarizing the debate.  (I confess I was nervous about Berger’s coverage; he often takes a very jaudiced eye to Vancouverism.  But here he’s neutral.)  He also followed up a few day’s later with some more tidbits.

The now-online Seattle PI did a short piece – but the best part is the comments: dozens of ’em, passionately argued.  Here’s some coverage in the Province, and Global TV followed up a week later.   The Sightline Daily reported in here. And there was also a pre-debate debate on the CBC.

Who won?  As Peter Steinbrueck said, it was really about the merits of two great cities.  But the Vancouver audience thought Peter won, and Seattle voted for my argument – both by a margin.


  1. I liked your comment made on TV (Global I think) that Seattle is a “Great American City” in that it’s good for America. I think you said something like … It offers green and recreation oriented thinking to a country that hasn’t always thought that way.

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