UW to break ground on Portage Bay Crossing redevelopment

The University of Washington plans to break ground this year on a building slated to be the hub of a new 69-acre redevelopment project. The innovation-focused plan, named Portage Bay Crossing, will comprise an expansive area on the southwest portion of UW’s Seattle campus. The inaugural structure, Brightwork, is named for the varnished wood and exterior metal on a boat and a nod to the high-quality research and entrepreneurship intended to take place within the facility.

The ambitious project aims to revitalize and unify an area of older, underutilized buildings, transforming the area into a walkable urban hub that will include academic research centers across disciplines, startups and other companies, housing, and retail shops and restaurants run by diverse owners. Project features will acknowledge the Coast Salish people and culture, as well as other Pacific Northwest tribes.

Portage Bay Crossing, which contains 19 building sites, sits between Lake Union, 15th Avenue NE, NE 41st Street and Eastlake Avenue NE. Ultimately, the project could include 3 million square feet of new buildings, a welcome enhancement to the University District neighborhood, which has struggled to recover its vibrancy after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Brightwork, the first build, will be an 11-story structure with 345,000 square feet of leasable space at Brooklyn Avenue NE and NE 40th Street. The University is planning to rent up to 130,000 square feet of that space for research efforts, including the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, the Institute for Protein Design and the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine. The building will also include conference and event spaces and room for a restaurant and café. Planned landscaping will create a park-like space and separate the Burke-Gilman cycling trail from pedestrian walkways.

The Brightwork project hopes to achieve LEED gold certification, with sustainability features to include rooftop photovoltaic solar panels, a “chilled beam” system for heating and cooling, a crenelated exterior to trap solar heat, and on-site stormwater treatment for rainwater runoff.

The Portage Bay Crossing project intends to attract top companies and talent to the University District, amplifying the UW’s own research successes. It’s not a small thing to bring together diverse academic disciplines and top business, government and nonprofit leaders to take on some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

This post was based on information found on GeekWire. Photo credit: UW.

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