The process to design the development project that will fill the land surrounding the Broadway light rail station when it opens for service in 2016 is still in its earliest stages — politics and big dreams. The politics part of the process doesn’t exactly print flyers and hold a lot of public events. But the big dream part did recently when teams of University of Washington architecture students shared their visions for Capitol Hill transit oriented development as part of a unique assignment melding academic design with a soon-to-be-realized project.
We’ve featured some images and two of the presentation documents from professor Sharon Sutton’s Undergraduate Architecture Studio Students, below. You might know Dr. Sutton as the outgoing chair of the Capitol Hill Design Review Board, by the way. Beyond simple inspiration for the possibilities of the space, the architectural exercise revealed some interesting takeaways about designing for the parcel that will stretch from Denny to John along Broadway and house a bustling light rail station beneath.
- All teams had to deal with a requirement for venting to provide the underground station and tunnels with fresh air. The wildest solution to this came from an open pit concept incorporated by one team who called their design The Station. “There would be signs,” a student explained regarding how people would be kept from plunging to their death in the 50-foot drop.
- For reasons including the need for central venting and the extension of Nagle, all designs created a north-south swath of open space through the middle of the station campus stretching from John to Cal Anderson.
- Teams were briefed on community goals for the space including space for affordable and market housing, retail and community space. The crowded milieu resulted in a couple of models that were extremely busy. “Was the different design for each component a conscious decision to surface the different use intended for each building?” CHS asked. “Not really. We didn’t meet as a group until we designed our pieces.”
- The process was also informed by takeaways shaped in last summer’s Sound Transit community meeting to discuss the extension of Nagle and “pedestrianization” of Denny.
- The Healthy Living concept, presented below, incorporated stalls for an open-air farmers market and a movie wall in a central plaza. There is a tentative plan to utilize space in the development for the farmers market. In the meantime, starting this May, the market will move to Seattle Central from its long-time home at 10th and Thomas.
- Nobody applied for any variances. All heights were kept to 6 stories and under.
- None of the concepts included the plot of land also owned by Sound Transit across the street from the Broadway station construction area that is currently used as Sound Transit offices north of Seattle Central. Sound Transit’s board recently approved a process to begin negotiating with the community college to sell the land to the school so that SCCC can develop the parcel as part of its campus.
- The process to produce a “request for proposals” for a developer to design the light rail station process is being banged out with a group representing the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and community council in discussions with Sound Transit to shape the requirements. In the past, Sound Transit has said that the developer and architects won’t be officially selected until 2012 or 2013.
- The Capitol Hill Champion group is looking for an appropriate space on Broadway to display the student models from the exercise. We’ll let you know when a home is found.
- The Mt. Baker station development is one window into the future of process that will play out on Capitol Hill. Publicola reports on the four finalists for that development project here.