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October 7, 2021

Connecting communities with equitable transit

  • New light rail stations are acting as catalysts for equitable development.
    Hewitt Architects


    Hewitt is proud to be the architect for Sound Transit’s new Roosevelt and Northgate light rail stations. The two stations, along with U District Station, are opening on the 4.3-mile Northgate Link Extension as part of the newly expanded 1 Line.

    This project is transformative on many levels. It provides transportation options for communities providing equity and opportunity; provides access to employment, education, and recreation; alleviates traffic congestion; and cuts emissions and air pollution. The Northgate Link project is a carefully orchestrated collaborative effort between the owner, architects, planners, engineers, stakeholders, and the community. We feel privileged to be a part of this collective endeavor and to see it become an integral part of our city’s equitable infrastructure.

    By providing connections between light rail and other mobility options, Northgate and Roosevelt stations become deeply integrated multimodal transportation hubs, acting as catalysts for equitable development and improving connections with downtown Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and other regional destinations. As transit users ourselves, our team approaches station design by carefully considering user experience to ensure the stations we design are accessible by all people and integrated within the broader neighborhood context.


    Images by Hewitt Architects [enlarge]
    Northgate Station’s south entrance has a spacious plaza.

    The scale and massing of Roosevelt Station’s entrance buildings are compatible with their surrounding context.

    Sited in a well-established neighborhood, Roosevelt Station has significantly driven the increased growth of housing even before the station construction was completed. The underground station has two entrances, one on Northeast 67th Street and the other on Northeast 65th Street, along 12th Avenue Northeast near Roosevelt High School. Each station entrance includes elevator, escalator, and stairs to ensure direct and seamless access to the station platform.

    Trips from Roosevelt to downtown Seattle take just 10 minutes, and local bus routes stop at the station to facilitate convenient transfers. Bicyclists arriving via 12th Avenue and 65th Street have a smooth transition to the bicycle storage facility at the station entrance.

    A plaza along Northeast 66th Street provides a welcoming space with passenger amenities including seating, bicycle parking, landscaping, and public art. R&R Studio’s colorful 49-foot-tall “Building Blocks” sculpture is a dominant centerpiece of the plaza and will become a landmark feature for the neighborhood.

    The station has been carefully designed to respond to the character of the Roosevelt community by ensuring the scale and massing of the station entrance buildings are compatible with their surrounding context. The signage from the former Standard Radio building has been salvaged and reinstalled above the ticket vending machines at the south station entrance, maintaining a connection to the neighborhood history.

    A highly anticipated project many years in the making, the impact Roosevelt Station will have on future development in the neighborhood is already apparent, including potential affordable housing.


    Northgate Station is the northern terminus station for Sound Transit’s 1 Line until the Lynnwood Link Extension opens, expanding service towards Everett. The elevated station acts as a major transit center and is the connection point for many regional and local bus routes. Light rail trips take just 13 minutes between Northgate and downtown Seattle.

    Northgate Station is sensibly sited along First Avenue Northeast, cantilevering over the right of way. The station acts as a buffer to mitigate traffic noise, becomes a visual barrier to Interstate 5, and helps achieve a more pleasant pedestrian experience, catalyzing future development and helping to stitch together a community currently divided by the freeway.

    Seattle Department of Transportation’s John Lewis Memorial Bridge connects the portion of the neighborhood west of I-5, including North Seattle College, with Northgate Station’s mezzanine level. The bridge helps overcome the barrier of the freeway by offering pedestrians and cyclists a safe and convenient means of accessing the station.

    The station has two fully accessible entrances, one on either side of Northeast 103rd Street. The spacious plaza by the station’s south entrance has been designed to welcome riders and provide convenient transfers between the light rail and other modes of transportation. Bus loading zones, paratransit access, and pedestrian routes are located with a direct line of sight to the station entrance.

    The north entrance connects directly to the new parking garage and nearby commercial center. Designed to optimize the site, the garage is largely underground, and vehicular access is fully separated from pedestrian and bicycle access to ensure passenger safety.

    Designed to provide a sense of place, riders are greeted by a bountiful amount of public art including Mary Anne Peters’ colorful stained-glass paintings within the station and Cris Bruch’s graceful plaza sculpture by the south entrance and wall-mounted sculpture by the north entrance. Northgate station is a bustling, dynamic focal point for the community while enhancing the sense of arrival and sense of belonging.

    Roosevelt and Northgate stations are both vibrant multimodal transit centers that connect neighborhoods and build communities, offering people enhanced flexibility in where they can live, work, learn, and play. As problem solvers, we ensure our designs are innovative, pragmatic, and reflect the character of the communities we serve. Our vision is to bring high-quality transit stations to every neighborhood and to continue to transform our region with a world-class transportation system that provides equitable transportation options for all people, because we believe transportation is a human right.

    As a principal and the director of design for transportation architecture at Hewitt, Leah Ephrem has overseen and led design efforts for many transit projects in the Puget Sound region, including light rail and commuter rail expansion, BRT integration, and aviation projects.

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