Angle Lake Transit Station and Plaza
Ben Benschneider

Angle Lake Transit Station and Plaza

Brooks + Scarpa as Architects

With ample space for people to live, work, and play, the new Angle Lake Transit Station and Plaza is an Envision certified sustainable mixed-use facility consisting of a 1-acre connecting plaza and community event spaces, a drop-off area for light rail users, retail space with dedicated bike storage and parking and a 35,000 square-foot parcel for future transit-oriented development. It also includes a parking structure for 1,150 cars designed to accommodate conversion to new future uses. Serving over 2,500 passengers daily, including the headquarters for Alaska Airlines, which employs more than 7,500 people in the immediate surrounds and over 4ooo people living within ½ mile of the station, Angle Lake Station is an important transit hub in the Sound Transit portfolio of transit facilities.


Inspired by William Forsythe’s improvisational piece ‘Dance Geometry’ where dancers connect their bodies by matching lines in space that could be bent, tossed or otherwise distorted, we began to think of the possibilities where simple straight lines are composed to produce an infinite number of movements and positions with little need for transition. This idea lessens the need to think about the end result and focus more on discovering new ways of movement and transformations’.


Using ruled surface geometry, the undulating façade is formed by connecting two curves with a series of straight lines to form the surface of the façade. Each of the custom aluminum façade elements were designed and segmented into standardized sizes for the most efficient structural shape and material form, while maximizing production, fabrication and installation cost efficiency. This technique allowed the design team to work with complex curved forms and rationalize them into simple, cost-effective standardized components, making them easy to fabricate and efficient to install. The entire façade was installed in less than three weeks without the use of cranes or special equipment.


Every unique condition of the project’s shape had to be geometrically rationalized. In other words, a fabricator must somehow measure and build off a set of drawings with the assumption that automated fabrication techniques are not always at hand. Beginning with the top and bottom chords, every segment of the curves was reduced to either measurable arcs for a pipe roller or straight-line segments for standardized shapes. Following this process, the lines of the ruled surface had to be segmented into standardized sizes for efficient fabrication while adhering to a set of rules given by the structural properties of the material. The architect provided analysis, constructability, and digital documents for direct and automated fabrication.


The seven acre 400,000 square foot mixed-use complex was the result of an international design/build competition. It features a seven-story, cast-in-place and post-tensioned concrete structure with an exterior façade that uses over 7,500 custom formed blue anodized aluminum façade panels. Using ruled surface geometry, the undulating façade is formed by connecting two curves with a series of straight lines to form the surface of the façade. Each of the custom aluminum façade elements were designed and segmented into standardized sizes for the most efficient structural shape and material form, while maximizing production, fabrication and installation cost efficiency. This technique allowed the design team to work with complex curved forms and rationalize them into simple, cost-effective standardized components, making them easy to fabricate and efficient to install. The entire façade was installed in less than three weeks without the use of cranes or special equipment.


With five levels above ground and two levels partially below ground the mixed-use structure takes advantage of the sloping site topography. It is accessible from three different street locations at various levels with 2,500 square feet of retail space at ground level and a 35,000-square-foot site to the west to support future transit-oriented development. As part of a multi-modal transit plan the station also has secure storage for bicycles with integrated lockers and racks and charging stations for electric vehicles.


The public plaza, on the third level, connects directly to the light rail entry, parking structure and public streets. It includes a passenger drop-off area, para-transit loading areas, and a covered walkway from the garage to the station. It forms a physical and visual connection between the project elements and includes several displays of regionally inspired artwork. Ornately designed seat walls, pathways, paving, native planting, and storm-water catchment features help to engage transit users as they move through the space, creating quiet places for social interaction while waiting for a transit connection. The plaza is designed to accommodate community events, such as festivals, farmers’ markets, art exhibits, and other outdoor public gatherings. The design and location of major project elements maximize function, sustainability, and aesthetics while providing an efficient use of space.


The 1.6 mile elevated light rail extension provides rapid public transit from the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, the Rainier Valley, downtown Seattle, and the University of Washington.


Angel Lake Transit Station And Plaza

INTERMOUNTAIN INDUSTRIAL INC. as Fabricator

Inspired by the body lines of dancers, the undulating facade of this Seattle parking garage was was completed by fabrications and contracting company Intermountain Industrial Inc., in collaboration with Scarpa + Brooks Architects. With no straight lines, each of the custom aluminium facade elements is curved or angled, and painted in the colours of the local Seattle Seahawks football team.


The production of the facade began with the fabricators receiving the architectural plans from Brooks + Scarpa. These plans were then imported by the fabricator into SolidWorks software and refined in the 3D model to develop each individual facade piece. Each piece was then detailed so that it could be put on shop drawings and then cut, rolled, welded, etc. 


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The top and bottom transom support pipes were modeled with the same radius throughout the curve of the support pipe. Each pipe has 1-3 curves, but the radius is the same for each curve or rolled section of the pipe or tube. The intermediate supports were not as simple as many of them had complex curves with the radius changing within the curve. These elements were thus far more difficult to fabricate.


Intermountain Industrial Inc. also produced several components for the spiral stairs within the parking garage. Here, the radius of the pieces that had to be rolled was tighter (smaller) than the material was physically capable of being bent without severe distortion. These pieces were actually hand built from individual pieces and welded together, ground and polished to look as if they were rolled.


Throughout the process of creation, the fabricator collaborated closely not only with the architects, but also with Harbor Pacific (Contractor), as well as BergerABAM (Structural Engineer) in order to address structural and constructability issues. As this was a design-build project, a number of issues appeared from time to time. And though the overall structure was designed, many details were left to be resolved during the fabrication phase.


This was a fairly fast track project so such issues had to be resolved as quickly as possible. With a team of three working on each problem simultaneously, most problems were resolved within 1-2 days. There were a few problems that took longer, but the team were able to bypass them and keep working forward on the project, returning to these problems once a solution was developed.


Mike Cook, owner and founder of Intermountain Industrial Inc. explains that ‘bending metal is fun,’ and that their machine is in fact one of its kind between Seattle and Utah. Due to their track record of building with precision, Intermountain Industrial Inc. receive many requests for custom work. They have to date completed many custom projects throughout the American West, including in Idaho, Oregon, California, Washington, North Dakota, Nevada and Montana.


An authorized builder and dealer of USA Steel Building, Intermountain Industrial Inc. is a full-service industrial contractor undertaking design and build projects as well as acting as general contractor, subcontractor or fabricator turning design ideas into built reality.

Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrand
Façade FabricationAPEL Extrusions
ManufacturersElux
ManufacturersLACKER
ManufacturersStepstone
Product Spec Sheet
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