URBAN Intervention

The 1962 Seattle Expo brought a cultural campus and an iconic landmark to the City of Seattle.Since then the city has been at the forefront of technology and innovation, emerging as a culturally dynamic and cosmopolitan city. Building upon this momentum, ReCenter positions the Seattle Center not only as a mere destination, but as a neighborhood center and amenity for everyday experiences.

Seattle Center represents an unprecedented opportunity for the future of Seattle, providing a significant platform for the creation of a central civic open space situated between the new public waterfront and the internationally acclaimed Olympic Sculpture Park to the southwest, Lake Union to the northeast, and the Central Business District to the south. ReCenter establishes a contemporary public landscape that will both catalyze the campus and begin to fill the void of active, civic green spaces - for the whole community, as well as for individual delight and respite. Its design connects to local and natural forces integrating the larger needs of regional transportation access and environmental quality with concern for neighborhood open space and stormwater management.

ReCenter also offers meaningful cultural, entertainment, retail, and commercial uses to the neighborhood, helping connect emergent communities of the City to their local history and their larger urban setting. Community identity will be enhanced by extending green streets within the public realm linking pedestrians and cyclists to greenway connectors - such as the Lake to Bay and Blue Ring - public parks and plazas, bikeways and an interconnected transit infrastructure.

RE Centering

a RE imagined CIVIC HUB of Seattle
ReCenter is reimagined as a vibrant civic space connecting the city and its people through adaptive reuse of the landmark Key Arena to a burgeoning multimodal transit center (Key Transit Center) integrating light rail, streetcar, bus, a city-wide bike share program and new underground parking garage for private and service vehicles. A proposed West Link light rail line extends from Westlake station, connects to the Key Transit Center, and improves access to Seattle Center and downtown from western neighborhoods including Interbay, Ballard, and beyond. Through strategic development and green streets along key corridors, ReCenter integrates the campus into existing and emerging neighborhoods, and reinforces social engagement within the public realm. Local and regional pedestrian and bicycle connections are seamlessly established and strengthened to distill an awareness of the relationship between the natural and built environment.

energized by DYNAMIC + INNOVATIVE design
ReCenter establishes a diverse new identity through the creation of distinct programmatic connections. Two primary east west spines flank the Key Transit Center and integrate with the urban fabric. To the south, the Community Spine invites community and visitors to experience diverse cultural exhibition and educational venues with interactive play. The northern Performance Spine is reinforced celebrating a variety of entertainment, performance, and digital media venues placed within native gardens of the Puget Trough and interconnected with intimate retail and food pavilions. These two zones unite within ‘The Clearing’ – a multipurpose open space within which the iconic International Fountain, community sports field, gathering and recreation opportunities, informal play, outdoor performance venue, plazas and promenades are cohesively organized into a public urban park.

ReCenter positions art, science, education, technology, and digital information at the forefront of the public realm in the spirit of the Exposition of 1962. New and existing sensory and tactile experiences engage touch, smell, hearing, taste and visual stimulation through water features, digital mirror, interactive play areas, sculptural lighting, ornamental gardens, and local foods within the redesigned Center House. The public realm of the campus is infused with educational components displaying history, sustainability, technology and art as an underpinning to the aesthetics of the architecture and the landscape. Users are empowered within the campus to communicate locally and globally – an open exchange about the past, present and future of the Center environs and events via wireless internet, web uplinks, QR codes, and augmented reality at key nodes throughout the campus.

ReCenter provides a sustainable cultural campus that restores the balance between human and natural systems. Beyond the open space design which celebrates and recaptures the history of the Seattle Center, distinctive water features transform rainwater into a dynamic neighborhood amenity. By selectively retaining the existing mature tree canopy, biodiversity and habitat quality is enhanced through a plant palette inspired by woodland and grassland associations unique to the Puget Trough eco-region. The integration of urban and regional ecologies restores natural processes in the landscape, while providing a highly diverse and educational urban forest. The urban forest and understory provides essential ecosystem functions to improve air quality, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat as well as capture and reduce stormwater runoff. The Center Park features an expansive field of resilient native fescue turf for pleasure and festival grounds, reducing urban heat island and reprioritizing the pedestrian experience. Earthwork from the construction of the underground parking garage is retained and balanced on-site to form the gently sloping Center Park landscape, reducing fossil fuel consumption, investment and life cycle costs. Alternative energy sources such as geothermal reduce the energy demands on-site.

a VISION for the future, INSPIRED by the region and its history
ReCenter respects and reinterprets the past legacy, while creating a bold and inspiring vision for the future. Internal north-south connections throughout the campus reflect the historic street names - Poplar, Ash, Oak, and Willow, while reinterpreting the pre-settlement site as an open meadow. New temporary exhibition pavilions featuring local and international architecture create an annual innovation display based on the five themes of the Expo – Arts, Industry, Entertainment, Nations, and Science funded through public | private partnerships. Existing iconic architecture and site elements - Key Transit Center, International Fountain, and the Memorial Wall are respectfully revitalized with a contemporary expression. To increase awareness a ‘Digital Mirror’ featured at the Innovation Plaza provides constant interactive monitoring of sustainability and lifestyle for the community and individual – a model for other local neighborhoods and public spaces in Seattle. A transformation of the Center mandates a fresh visual identity through the use of public art, environmental graphics, and public space programming to create a memorable civic space and a legacy destination.

Entrant Information
Team Name: 
Team Country: 
United States
Team Members / Design Credits: 
Romil Sheth, Urban Designer Caitlyn Clauson, Urban Planner Melissa McCann, Landscape Architect Shannon Lee, Landscape Architect Anthony Fettes, Landscape Ecologist
Licensed Professional: 
Melissa McCann, Senior Landscape Architect, State of California | Romil Sheth, Architect, Council of Architecture, India
Juried Entry
Design Statement and Analytic Concept Sketch (click to view larger): 

Good design makes a difference

American Institute of Architects

A Chapter of the American Institute of Architects