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University Street Station-a Touch of High-Tech

Click on any small photo to see a larger image.
Downloadable station map [.PDF 857kb] with art locations noted.

University Street Station

Under Third Avenue between Union and Seneca streets, University Street Station is in the heart of Seattle's financial district-a neighborhood full of modernist architecture and high-tech designs. The station mirrors the neighborhood, using granite, stainless steel, and high-tech lighting.

Architect Mark Spitzer designed the station with lead artist Vicki Scuri. Together the two chose station colors, materials and fixtures to create wall and floor patterns. Linear stainless-steel lighting fixtures, glass railings and electronic artworks reinforce the "high-tech" nature of the station and surrounding neighborhood. Unlike Westlake Station, University Street Station has north and south end mezzanines rather than one full-length walkway.

The northern lights

lightsticks On the 14- by 65-foot granite end wall in the north station mezzanine are some of the most unusual and dynamic artworks in the tunnel. Embedded in the wall like glowing neon icicles are 24 "lightsticks" created by artist Bill Bell. Bell coined the term lightstick to describe his artwork crafted of light-emitting diodes and computer memory chips. The lightsticks blink randomly, creating a razzle-dazzle of light in motion. But there's more than meets the eye in the blinking lights. Bell drew on his physics background and years working in the aerospace industry to program the lights to create images that you can see only when your eyes move rapidly from side to side.

lightsticks One of the best ways to see the lightstick images is to stand in the center of the mezzanine facing the lightsticks. Then move your head from side to side. With patience, you'll begin to catch fleeting glimpses of trolleys, airplanes, coins, dollar signs and other images related to transportation and finance.

On the east side of the mezzanine is a stairway leading out of the Cobb Building Garage to University Street and Third Avenue. The quotation in the stair risers is from Seattle Tower architect A.H. Albertson, describing his creation on the other side of University Street. The other station entrances on the north mezzanine are in Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony-and across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum.

railing railing In the Second Avenue entrance to the station mezzanine below Benaroya Hall is artwork that's in tune with the sounds of music performed above. Commissioned by the Seattle Arts Commission and King County Metro, artist Erin Shie Palmer in 1998 created "Temple of Music." It includes bronze handrails etched with Braille text and voiceprints and ending in violin scrolls and microphones; a neon-lit curved ceiling; and wall tiles with sandblasted images that flow from pixilated patterns to an abstract musical score.

hallway to Beneroya Hall

'The Beltline'

Beltline Beltline Back in the station on the customer-loading platform, the walls contain patterns of white, black and red granite. Artist Vicki Scuri calls the design "The Beltline," mainly because it winds around the station waistline. The patterns highlight different features of the platform such as benches and information panels, and they create a pathway for people to follow. It you look closely at the walls, you'll discover a line of inlaid colored glass.

Also look at the benches along the wall. The dot-matrix pattern was created on Scuri's Apple computer and sandblasted into the steel benches. You'll find similar computer-generated etchings on the station's stainless-steel doors and pieces of granite on the walls.

dot-matrix pattern bench dot-matrix pattern door dot-matrix pattern

The southern lights

On the wall in the south station mezzanine, you'll discover more lightworks. Artist Robert Teeple created these lightworks using more than 10,800 light-emitting diodes-semiconductor material similar to that used in a digital clock. Teeple designed a series of eight electronic light boxes with animated light sculptures that show more than 100 faces, animals, machines and other objects. Two of the boxes include Spanish and English words that change constantly, forming different phrases.

more lightworks more lightworks

dot-matrix pattern bench dot-matrix pattern door dot-matrix pattern

Walk up the stairs in the southwest exit to the Washington Mutual Tower on Third at Seneca Street, and you'll discover the words of Flo Ware, humanitarian and black activist commenting on the "Poor People's Campaign."

pendulum clock Also, near the comer of Third and University on the west side of the street is a street clock designed by artist Heather Ramsay. The 14-foot pendulum clock is made of steel with a polished copper finish. The clock includes a small brass mouse running up the side, a reference to the "Hickory-Dickory Dock" nursery rhyme. It's the artist's way of reminding us of the time that has passed since childhood.

Downloadable station map [.PDF 857kb] with art locations noted.

Updated: Jan. 29, 2008