Don’t let the 105-year-old age fool you, Seattle’s King Street Station, the busiest rail station in the Pacific Northwest, has gone a touch modern lately, just look at its geothermal well field for a hint. Even as the station has received some sprucing up over the last two years, more federal money aims to finish up the upgrades in downtown Seattle.
In 2008, the City of Seattle purchased the station from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway company and started a $50 million restoration project, now in full swing, to “restore the building’s historic character and grandeur,” along with upgrade facilities, security, lighting and efficiency to serve the modern traveler.
This week, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration signed agreements securing $16.7 million of the needed $50 million ($30 million has already been spent) in federal high-speed-rail funds to continue the work at the King Street Station.
The brick building, with its famed clock tower, serves as an icon from the outside, but the station’s main hall with white marble walls and ornate lighting—both of which were removed during “modernization” about 50 years ago —will also restore the 1906 building to a more original look. The process has taken the pledge to return the building to historic accuracy seriously, going as far as to fix up the interior ceiling and clean up an exterior cluttered by decades of aesthetically displeasing additions.
Once the project finishes, crews will have replaced the existing roof with original terra cotta tiles, improved the lighting and removed the microwave dish on the clock tower, fixed all four clocks so they function, restored finishes to the façade, removed suspended tiles from the lobby to bring back the original ornate ceiling and conducted a complete seismic and structural upgrade.
In addition, the building will get new entrances at Jackson Street and at King Street and to make it all look a little more realistic, a non-historic enclosure on the west side was removed and upgrades to the pedestrian-friendly Jackson Street plaza provide better access and help define the historic nature of the area
Already the roof and clocks have been set right and a new geothermal well field connected to a heat pump system provides better efficiency. Improvements to the electrical and plumbing systems also prove efficient, just not as fun to talk about.
The new money ensures the building will get all its needed work in the next two years.
With about $30 million in federal, state and local funding already spent on the project, officials say the latest round of finances will support more than 100 jobs over a two-year period, starting with the new wave of construction in 2012.
With a lack of historic structures—at least compared to the East Coast—in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle wants to do all it can to retain original character at its iconic structures, mixing plenty of the old with a healthy dose of the new.