Each year, on average, more than 300 Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) send millions of gallons of raw sewage and storm-water into Seattle’s creeks, lakes, the Ship Canal, the Duwamish River, and Elliott Bay. These CSOs create significant health and environmental risks disrupting and killing wildlife and preventing Seattle’s citizens from enjoying the water that surrounds them. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is undertaking multiple projects throughout the City to contain overflow water and prevent CSO events from entering our waterways. It is an enormous infrastructure project that is essentially invisible.
Johnston Architects was recently selected to design the above grade portion of SPU’s Ship Canal Water Quality project in Ballard. The site is at the head of an extensive underground well and tunnel system that will collect and hold Seattle’s Combined Sewer Overflow when the system is overwhelmed by storms.
The SPU Pump Station site in Ballard is the only place that the Ship Canal Water Quality Project comes out of grade. It is an opportunity for SPU to illustrate, educate, and celebrate the importance of the project in keeping our waterways healthy and sustainable and to emphasize the important role that SPU plays in our City.
The site is located at the corner of 24th Avenue Northwest and Shilshole Avenue Northwest and is bounded by Salmon Bay to the south, Stimson Marina to the east, and Pacific Fisheries to west. This site is also one of only two public access points to Salmon Bay in Ballard.
In order to provide safe access to the water, JA proposed creating an attractive path physically separated from Pacific Fisheries and the Pump Station Utility Yard. By lifting the path up, visitors can view the water, Pump Station tower, and yard while providing space for a community and event center beneath.
Lastly the Pump Station structure that is visible above grade houses the head of the dry well. The structure is wrapped in a dynamic space frame screen composed of stainless steel members and LED rods. The lights will be responsive to the function of the well.
It can be programmed to communicate what is invisible to those above grade, and it will be visible from a great distance. Specifically the tower is a prominent feature in the view corridor down 24th Ave NW, Salmon Bay, the Ballard Locks and even the Ballard Bridge. It will become a beacon for the site and for the critically important job that it and SPU are doing to keep Seattlites and our urban waters safe and sustainable.