More than a light rail station, the Sound Transit University of Washington Station adds multiple facets to the urban fabric at the intersection of Montlake Boulevard and Pacific Street. Knitting together transportation modalities from bike to bus to pedestrians to trains, the multi-disciplinary design creates a unified solution at a problematic street intersection, one of the busiest in Seattle, and provides a unique gateway to the University of Washington campus through its above and below-grade experiences.
Design elements throughout the station create a sense of movement and connection with the urban fabric. The 2-level glass entrance structure marks the entry as a destination and frames views of the surrounding context, including Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. The transparency also serves as a light well, allowing daylight to reach down to the mezzanine level. Between the surface and the train platform 100 feet below, circulation paths and visual connections between multiple levels orient users to the station’s overall volume, structure and internal flow.
At the heart of the station experience, the escalators and glass elevator pass through a 55-foot high underground central chamber, one of the highest interior volumes in the city. LMN Architects and artist Leo Saul Berk collaborated to create an integrated experience for travelers, where the architecture seamlessly merges with Berk’s artwork, Subterraneum, that expresses the geological layers of soil surrounding the station walls.
Above ground, the station’s new bicycle and pedestrian bridge, with stairs, escalators and ramps connecting both levels of the entrance structure, curves gently as it spans over Montlake Boulevard to connect with the Rainier Vista on the university campus. The bridge plays a critical role in expanding Seattle’s bicycle commuter network, connecting the Burke-Gilman Trail with a new bike lane on the rebuilt State Route 520 floating bridge.
Each element of the project is carefully considered as a component of a larger whole, set within a complex web of uses that encompasses the campus, the surrounding neighborhoods, and important university destinations such as Husky Stadium, the Alaska Airlines Arena, Rainier Vista, and the UW Medical Center. “LMN's work at the University of Washington Station beautifully and intricately navigates an almost unbelievably complex urban node,” says Rebecca Barnes, University Architect and Associate Vice Provost for Campus and Capital Planning at the University of Washington. “The outcome is a great architectural and urban design achievement borne of many acts of imaginative and insightful civic leadership.”