Mt. Baker / Beacon Hill Light Rail Stations
Mt. Baker, WA
General Contractor: Obayashi Corporation
Suppliers: Mutual Materials Company
Owner: Sound Transit
Wall System: Cavity Wall: Brick Veneer/Steel Stud
Sound Transit, a metropolitan Puget Sound public transportation agency, opened the initial segment of their new light rail transit system in late 2009. Connecting downtown Seattle with SeaTac Airport, the alignment is 14 miles long and includes 13 stations that were built through multiple construction contracts. One segment, C710, included the construction of twin tunnels approximately one mile long and two stations - an elevated station at Mt. Baker and a deep tunnel station at Beacon Hill.
The stations are an integral component of the region’s transportation infrastructure, which is anticipated to extend into the next century. They provide public mobility 20 hours per day, 7 days a week. Subject to heavy pedestrian traffic, the stations will not easily accommodate closure to repair vandalism and abuse. Accordingly, Sound Transit identified longevity, durability, ease of maintenance, economy, and aesthetics as primary criteria to shape the architect’s design and selection of materials. Sound Transit also wanted to create attractive, welcoming facilities that would serve as good neighbors to the local communities long into the future. Brick and glass block masonry became key elements to meet these objectives.
The Beacon Hill Station is a deep tunnel station. With headhouses at the surface to accommodate elevators, mechanical equipment and emergency exits, the station platform is approximately 165 feet below grade. The selection of brick masonry for the exterior wall finishes of the headhouses not only helped maintain a link with the neighborhood’s existing commercial buildings, it also helped define individual functions within the new structure. A Mountain blend, mission-faced brick expresses the vent shaft of the headhouse while a lighter Chestnut blend, smooth-faced brick expresses the elevator and equipment areas of the building. An accent course of Mountain blend, rug textured-faced brick is used within the lighter brick surfaces to add scale and to connect the two portions of the building. Large panels of glass block above each elevator, back-lit with colored lights, choreograph the arrival of the cabs to further activate the station entrance. At the platform level glass block panels are incorporated into the platform finishes with back lighting to provide warm gathering spots for pedestrians waiting to board the trains.
The Mt. Baker Station is an elevated station with the guideway approximately 30 feet above the street. In response to the community, Sound Transit encouraged architects to establish a visual link with the nearby historic Franklin High School, a well-known Seattle landmark. Brick masonry was used to help forge this connection. Inca mission brick was used on the station columns while a blend of mission brick, containing smaller amounts of Inca, was used on other surfaces. The main ticketing area located underneath the guideway is flanked by glass block walls that are highlighted by illuminated lightwells. The lightwells are painted a yellow/gold/blue color scheme to compliment the guideway artwork and enliven the plaza areas.
Date of Project Completion: June 2009
2010 MIW Excellence Awards in Masonry
Photography by John Walser