Electrical substations are usually boring, concrete boxes filled with wires and electrical equipment, but the new Denny Substation in Seattle, designed by architecture firm NBBJ, actually provides a vibrant communal space and an interactive, public walkway with expansive views of the city skyline. The new substation will be powered by 89.9% clean hydroelectric energy and 3.9% wind energy.
The 110.000-square-foot facility will generate, transform and distribute electricity in the rapidly developing South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle, and will support the Bill & Mellinda Gates Foundation, UW Medicine, Amazon, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Facebook, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Google, and global health organization PATH.
A fully accessible looped walkway rises 16 feet above ground level above the substation and provides views of Seattle’s skyline, the landscaped terrace and a public park below. Various sound, light and kinetic art installations line the walkway and provide useful information about sustainable energy to the public. The glass envelope emits a warm glow at night, with the lights helping people navigate the walkway. A permanent exhibition space with interactive visits on the history and future of energy innovation is located on the street level of Denny Substation. It is meant to function as a meeting space where people can exchange ideas and enjoy views of the bustling Denny Way traffic.
The facility aims for the Living Building Challenge‘s Petal certification, thanks to its green features such as net positive energy exhibition and meeting spaces, use of solar energy, natural ventilation, daylight optimizing strategies and reliance on renewable energy sources.