Sound Transit University of Washington Station

client: sound transit

size: 6.5 acres

location: seattle, wa

duration: 2003-2016

awards: 2016 aia seattle award of merit, 2016 aia washington honor award; 2016 honorable mention in spaces, places, cities of fast company's 2016 innovation by design awards

The University of Washington Link Light Rail Station sits adjacent to Husky Stadium and Montlake Boulevard. It stretches across 6-acres, connecting to the historic Rainier Vista gateway, to the campus, and the popular 19.8 mile Burke Gilman Trail. The newly opened station transports users between UW and the downtown core in 15 minutes, and to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 40 minutes through one of the most congested traffic corridors in the state.

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Programmatic and urban design objectives are met by integrating the station into the complex context of the campus edge condition and the busy Montlake Boulevard arterial where the site design must mediate a significant scale-shift. The site design accommodates multi-modal uses—bicycle ramps, stairs, walkways, and plazas were carefully scaled and positioned to converge safely and support intuitive way-finding. Street trees and understory plantings frame generous pedestrian and bicycle routes, maintain clear sight-lines, and create a safe buffer from high-speed road traffic.

Sweeps of seating adjacent to the station provide respite and create a comfortable scale for pedestrians within the expansive site. The arced geometry of the seat walls ease pedestrians across the site and help subtly frame a range of gathering spaces throughout the plaza. Plantings along gentle landforms visually connect the plaza level with the bicycle ramp, and help screen the roadway beyond. Richly textured planting frames the pedestrian plaza and fosters a rich environment in which to pause, move, or rest.

The University of Washington Light Rail Station landscape seamlessly incorporates multiple uses, allowing for ease of movement for pedestrians, bicyclists, commuters, and stadium goers, even as light rail ridership increases at record rates.

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