More than a light rail station, the project 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.
The project includes a train platform 100 feet underground, accessed via escalators and elevators from a 2-level glass entrance structure. Along the way, users pass through a 55-foot tall vertical circulation chamber featuring Subterraneum, a collaborative art installation that blends architecture and sculpture in expressing the geological layers of soil surrounding the station walls. Design elements throughout the station levels create a sense of movement through a memorable urban landscape, where thousands of users spend fleeting amounts of time in civic congregation. On the surface, the new bicycle and pedestrian bridge, with stairs, escalators, and ramps connecting both levels of the entrance structure, curves gently as it spans over Montlake to land 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.
Behind the scenes, mechanical systems are layered into the architecture. An extensive emergency smoke ventilation system, track crossover area, and maintenance spaces--unseen by the public--are nearly as large by volume as the circulation chambers. Two ventilation towers provide supply and exhaust air, anchoring each end of the below-grade structure. At street level the towers emerge as 20-foot tall structures that fade from view through the strategic use of perforated screens. The northern tower serves as a support for the bike and pedestrian bridge.
The project solves many transportation and urban planning issues at once, adding light rail to the region’s transportation mix; creating a bike/pedestrian crossing over Montlake; re-activating a historically troubled intersection as a transit hub and campus entrance; and improving circulation flow and access options to the UW sports complex. Each element is carefully considered as a component of a larger whole. “The station beautifully and intricately navigates an almost unbelievably complex urban node,” says Rebecca Barnes, University Architect at the UW. “The outcome is a great architectural and urban design achievement borne of many acts of imaginative and insightful civic leadership.”
- Award of Merit
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