Engage: Seattle Greyhound Bus Station


Kelly McCain
University of Washington


Richard Mohler
University of Washington


This winning design is a very believable solution for a bus station at the intersection of two major interstates. There is an interesting visual interchange between the platform and interior space. Steel is clearly the best material choice for this particularly site and program. The design plays up the contrast between the massive concrete and skeletal steel. It is a freestanding structure that neatly slides underneath the heavy concrete overpass. The building feels like a jewel within this dark environment; the proposal demonstrates an important investigation of lighting and dissemination, because it could be a gloomy place if not for the amazing sense of light that is illustrated in these renderings. 


The SODO Greyhound Station, though small in size, creates an opportunity for vast local growth, transportation, and precedent in an area amidst a state of transition. What was once the historic industrial and international transit center of Seattle, SODO, or South of Downtown lays stagnant between an industrial past and a commercial future. With the construction of Safeco and Key Arena, a spark of development has ignited as high-rises begin to infiltrate the district. Thus, the implementation of an urban transportation hub has the opportunity to not only contribute to development and density, but provide a precedent on implementation of new construction within a historic site.

 As a design strategy, the proposed SODO Greyhound Station is integrated into the existing structure of the site rather than receding to the back of the parcel, forming an isolated identity. In response to the seven massive concrete pillars and three dense overpasses sweeping over the parcel, the building is developed in homogeneity with its constraints and is formed through the boundaries of the existing structure. Thus, pedestrian circulation within the building mirrors the movement of the highways as it weaves in-between the existing pillars. Nodes of activity, rest, and program are punctured out from the bar of circulation, addressing the street front and creating a strong urban presence. Through this, the station becomes one with its surroundings. 

In contrast to the dense and heavy concrete overpass, the SODO Greyhound Station is constructed with lightweight steel and ultimate transparency, providing a fresh and airy experience within a dark and suppressed environment. The structural grid was formed through the convergence of the existing East-West street front and the North-South building restraints of the overpass. The structure is comprised of a hierarchy of lightweight steel members placed to designate circulation and provide natural light within the space. 

The main structural element is comprised of a repetition of lightweight tapered wide flange beams running from north to south, creating queuing and loading circulation from the building to the bus. Skylights illuminate the circulation space from above as they span between the main beams, highlighting the primary pedestrian activity within the space. A series of mirrored columns offset from the buildings’ edge run along the main beams providing both structural and lateral resistance. The columns not only provide designated structure, but reinforce movement along the main beams and a sense of enclosure between the pedestrian realm and the bus realm. The thin, doubled columns also provide necessary seating within the interior and exterior of the building. 

The lightweight roof, constructed of primary wide flange girders, wide flange beams, and t-purlins, extends beyond the buildings enclosure reaching to the pedestrian sidewalk to the north and the bus loading to the south. This space creates a convergence of urban activity, as the sidewalk, waiting room, and buses all coexist within one enclosure. The lightweight roof further extends west, acting as the structure for the second floor of program space that hovers over the bus departure.