GGN | UW Montlake Triangle

UW_OIF_UWMTP.inddTitle: Gothic Infrastructure: completing the monument of Rainier Vista

Project: University of Washington Montlake Triangle, Seattle, WA

Firm: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

Summary: The Rainier Vista axis is a central component of the University of Washington’s historic campus layout. The Vista was first conceived by the Olmsted Brothers as the central axis for the Alaska Yukon Exposition in the early 1900s, framing a grand view of Mount Rainier. The Vista remains a signature feature for the University, linking the heart of the historic, collegiate-gothic campus with Drumheller Fountain and the famous view of “the Mountain.”

The design for the Lower Rainier Vista attempts to integrate the isolated ground of Montlake Triangle with two moves. One is lowering NE Pacific Place between the campus and Montlake Triangle effectively creating a single land mass through which NE Pacific Place is carved. The second move is the extension of the monumental axis onto Montlake Triangle with a land bridge. By claiming Montlake Triangle as part of the Rainier Vista axis, the University returns to previous visions that intended for the Triangle to act as both a terminus of the axis and a threshold into the University. By clarifying and asserting the presence of the Rainier Vista, the purity of the intent to frame the monumental view is restored and the identity of the central campus is solidified.