An artist rendition of the new Portage Bay Crossing development at the UWWashington is known the world over as a center for breathtaking innovation. So it should come as no surprise that the University of Washington is breaking ground on a new epicenter of innovation known as Portage Bay Crossing. The new project will expand into the southwest portion of the Seattle campus, which is currently home to older, underutilized university properties.

Serving as the project’s anchor will be Brightwork. The 11-story building will feature 345,000 square feet of leasable space at the corner of Brooklyn Ave N.E. and N.E. 40th St. The UW will rent up to 130,000 square feet of space to house research efforts, including the university’s Clean Energy Testbeds, Institute for Protein Design and the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine. The building will also have conference and event spaces as well as a restaurant and café.

 “The intellectual work that will occur inside these buildings, and inside this space, we hope will solve some of the nation’s and the world’s biggest problems,” said Randy Hodgins, UW vice president for external affairs.

Additional buildings will join Brightwork in the coming years. The UW’s vision is to turn the area into a walkable urban hub with room for research facilities, startups and small companies along with housing and retail. The project will incorporate the people and cultures of the Coast Salish people as well as other Pacific Northwest tribes. When completed, the Portage Bay Crossing could add three million square feet of innovation-focused buildings to the UW campus.

The project will also take advantage of its proximity to Portage Bay. New green space will provide additional access to the bay and surrounding waterway. Plans include a new bike/pedestrian corridor between the bay and the Burke-Gilman Trail to the north.

Brightwork will seek LEED gold certification, using a “chilled beam” system for heating and cooling, solar panels on the roof and a stormwater treatment facility to reuse rainwater runoff.

 “We’re hoping that these spaces,” Hodgins said, “will take that creativity and that knowledge generation to a whole different level.”


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