Sound Transit Northgate Link U District Station

Seattle, Washington

Project Size:

105,000 square feet

Project Status:

Completed 2021


Transportation Design

Seattle’s University District is a bustling, colorful and eclectic mixed-use community situated directly between the city’s downtown core and burgeoning neighborhoods to the north along the I-5 corridor. With the University of Washington’s Seattle campus and numerous commercial enterprises creating a destination for thousands of students, workers and visitors every day, this new deep-level station anticipates record numbers of riders in fulfillment of its pivotal role in Seattle’s urban evolution. The U District Station, designed in collaboration with McMillen Jacobs Associates, offers pedestrians, cyclists, bus commuters and residents a highly functional, easy-to-use, and appropriately scaled transit hub conveniently located for their diverse activities.

The U District Station will be the first stop on the Northgate Link, a 4.3-mile light rail tunnel extension from the University of Washington Station on its way to points north. With the train platform located 85 feet below street level, the bulk of the station’s 125,000-square-foot area will be below grade, served by two entrances on Brooklyn Avenue NE between NE 43rd Street and NE 45th Street. The balance of the above-grade site will accommodate a future high rise transit oriented development project to be constructed on top of the station. Each of the two entries on Brooklyn Avenue NE will provide the elevators, escalators and stairs to the trains below. The north entrance lobby will serve riders heading to and from the adjacent Neptune Theater, nearby UW Tower, and major Metro transfer hub on NE 45th. The south lobby will give pedestrians a direct link to the UW campus a few blocks east. Creating a pedestrian-friendly experience, the sidewalks and streets facing the entrances (Brooklyn Avenue NE and 43rd Avenue NE) will meet Green Street standards, with ample landscaping, pedestrian lighting, benches and a bike lane. For bike commuters, both entrance lobbies will offer bicycle storage and racks.

This bright, open and easy-to-navigate station will serve thousands of daily riders. Above ground, the building materials will establish the project’s distinct, modern character while welcoming adjacent growth – a necessary balance in an existing neighborhood. When the future transit oriented development completes the block, the entry structures will integrate effectively into the larger urban setting, maintaining their Sound Transit identity. Once inside, patrons will descend through metal escalator/stair tubes to a mid-level open landing, placed within a tall voluminous central space, and continue to the train platform below via open escalators. The landing appears to float above the angled cross-bracing elements and is offset to the east. The offset, along with the metal artwork and video installations on the west wall, create a design asymmetry that will help to define north-south wayfinding and directionality on the platform.

Riders will encounter a variety of rich experiences in transitioning from the urban neighborhood to the welcoming station below. The large central volume is defined by a lightly colored corrugated metal ceiling and canted walls that conceal essential back-of-house functions. Walls are finished with wood fiber resin panels in checkerboard tones. Throughout the station, the coordinated use of color will ensure simple and intuitive wayfinding for busy travelers hurrying to their destinations.