Sound Transit University of Washington Station

Seattle, Washington

Project Size:

157,856 square feet

Project Status:

Completed 2016


Transportation Design, Urban Design

Selected Awards

2021 AIA National Honor Award


2018 AIA National Honor Award

Interior Architecture

2018 WAN

Transport Award

2017 American Architecture Awards

Airports and Transportation Centers

2017 Architizer

Popular Choice Winner, Architecture + Glass

2017 Chicago Athenaeum/Europe International Award Program

Architecture Award

2016 Fast Company

Innovation by Design Awards, Honorable Mention

2016 World Architecture News

Infrastructure Awards, Finalist

2016 AIA Seattle

Award of Merit

2016 AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards

Honorable Mention

2016 City of Seattle Design Commission

Design Excellence Award

The Sound Transit University of Washington Station creates a unified solution for multiple transportation modalities—bikes, buses, pedestrians and trains—at one of the busiest intersections in Seattle. The station is set within a complex web of uses that encompasses the UW campus, surrounding neighborhoods, and important university destinations such as Husky Stadium, the Alaska Airlines Arena, Rainier Vista and the UW Medical Center. Travelers can now reach downtown Seattle in six minutes, and the airport in about 40 minutes.

Design elements throughout the station create a sense of movement and connection with the urban fabric. The 2-level glass and steel entrance structure marks the entry as a destination and frames views of the surrounding context, including Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. 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.

The firm 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.

More than a light rail station, the project was designed to be a highly flexible civic gathering space, with the entire station area functioning in several different modes. In addition to typical weekday commuting activity, the wide plaza and adjacent parking area function as a gathering and queuing space during heavily-attended football games. After games or similar large-scale events, light rail passengers can be staged in the plaza area and released in groups to avoid overwhelming incoming trains. The transparent headhouse and widespread access to natural light, even in below-grade areas of the station, further improve the user experience, while the unique and distinctive massing, integrated artwork and interior color scheme underscore the transportation authority’s brand.

As Seattle works to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 62% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the multi-modal, pedestrian-friendly UW Station makes environmentally-friendly travel easy and accessible for residents and visitors alike. The importance of this stop will increase dramatically in the coming decade as north and east extensions replace the need for car commutes on heavily trafficked Interstate 5, Interstate 90 and State Route 520.

The University of Washington Station merges high quality design and urban integration, underscoring design opportunities often overlooked in this typology. The station’s daylit spaces, dynamic public art and ease of access work in concert to provide a beautiful, high-performing portal for the thousands of passengers who experience it every day.