Construction Continues to Cover U-District
By Kylie Helton
In recent decades, the U-District has evolved into an epicenter of culture, urbanism, and community centralized around commercial businesses and student life. The skyline of notable buildings, such as the UW Tower, the 16-story Graduate Seattle hotel, and the notorious gothic-modernist UW campus is recognizable to all Seattleites.
Student needs are the core of the university, demonstrated by the newly finished “CSE2” building. Constructed with funds from Microsoft, Amazon, and the Washington state Legislature, CSE2 was built to compliment the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering. The need to construct an additional facility was fueled by the intense demand for the number one sought-after major at the university, allowing the computer science department to accommodate more students and provide more resources. Increased student interest also provoked the construction of the Life Sciences Building, meeting the demands of the most populous STEM major in Washington state. The new building allows for students to learn collaboratively through the integration of student experience, research labs, and engaging learning spaces. Not only does the building benefit students, but the environment as well, with the implementation of solar glass fins to generate electricity, a water irrigation system, and rooftop photovoltaics that shield the building from heat while generating electrical power. Allowing students a space to feel at one with nature was a goal of the construction; this was done by incorporating donated Douglas fir trees from the Olympic Peninsula, birdsong in elevators, and the Evolutionary Grounds café which features outdoor space and a 90-foot art piece by Seattle-based artist Claude Zervas.
The U-District Link Light Rail station will continue its construction this year — a project that, once completed, will promote more transit-oriented development in U-District and benefit university students, faculty, and staff in addition to employees and business owners on the Ave. Set to open in 2021, construction has been underway since 2017 on Brooklyn and 43rd, with entrances on 43rd and 45th. This project is part of the larger development of the Northgate Link Light Rail extension, approved in 2008.
As the U-District prepares itself for more foot traffic in 2021 thanks to the new station, it will also expand into the sky. A 24-story, 227-unit apartment building called “The M” is being constructed on the 4700 block of Brooklyn Avenue NE, which will be about a two-minute walk from the new light rail station. This ground-breaking addition will accompany the UW Tower and the Graduate Seattle in forever altering the skyline of the U-District. The M will incorporate both luxury and student-life amenities into its construction: a doorman, theater, indoor basketball court, rooftop deck, and much more will be included. The M is said to be different than anything else in U-District, including the old Chevron gas station it is replacing. The M will be located right in the heart of the U-District, within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and campus, promoting a pedestrian-friendly area.
As the Ave continues its urban evolution, maintaining U-District’s nature of being a student-focused area, a new storefront is making its way into reality: Target. Similar in size to the downtown location, this Target is accompanied by two others in Ballard and Bellevue. The U-District Target is set to open sometime in 2019 and will directly cater to students, carrying apartment necessities and easy-to-grab items. It will also employ up to fifty people, many projected to be students. This Target store will be the first of its kind on the Ave, making both students and the company eager for the opening. The opening of “tiny” Target is predicted to help other shops and restaurants on the Ave as well through the convenience of easily-grabbed products and the influx of expected shoppers. Everyone benefits.