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King Street Station Restoration

Updated: June 27, 2013

Before & After June 2008 - June 2013

4.24.2013 Waiting Room Opening

4/24/13 New photos online - Grand Reopening Event

Click for more photos. And check back as we'll be adding even more in the next few days.

4/10/13 Ornamental Plaster Work Progress 3.25.2013

3/27 New photos online - Finishes (plaster, marble, tiles)

Painter sprays first coat of primer on ceiling.

When the station was opened to the public in May 1906, its grand waiting room had ornamental plaster ceilings.  The plaster walls were interspersed with fluted Corinthian columns.  The lower part of the walls and columns have white marble accented with glass mosaic tiles in white, green, red and gold.  A massive bronze chandelier hung in the center of the main waiting room.  Along with four smaller chandeliers and wall sconces, they  provided illumination for the passengers inside the station.  The terrazzo floor has inlaid square mosaic tiles.  This created a compass shaped pattern at the station entrance and other rectangular patterns throughout the rest of the areas.

A series of renovations in the 1940s, 50s and 60s have removed the plaster and marble walls, glass mosaic tiles and covered the plaster ceiling with acoustical tiles.  The historic light fixtures were replaced with fluorescent lights.  The terrazzo floor was cracked and in disrepair.

Phase 2B seismic upgrade of the station also includes the restoration of the first floor public areas’ finishes to the exact originals  that were lost to the renovations.  All work was done according to historic preservation guidelines established by the Federal Government’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.  When the station opens to the public, visitors will again be dazzled by the charm of the restored main waiting room.  The finishes portion of the project accounts for less than 13% of the total station rehabilitation budget.

Terrazzo floors are being cleaned and restored to original condition.

Click here to view more photos of finish work

3/26 New photos online - Clock tower work

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Welder works at top of tower’s 10th floor.

Click here to view more photos of clock tower work


Slideshow: Stairway & Marble Panels Installation

3.7.2013 Stairway, 2nd floor Corridor and Plaster Restoration Progress

3/4/13 New Photos online - stair work

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Old stairs are lowered by cable controlled by worker with an “air tugger” in distant right.

Click here to view more photos of stair work

2/27/13 New Photos online - steel work

The installation of seismic steel to strengthen the historic train station is a significant part of the project’s construction costs.  Out of the $55 million project budget, 42% is being spent on steel to protect the station during an earthquake.  

Sixty-Five piles weighing 96 tons were installed inside and outside of the station.  These piles were tied into rebar cages inside the new foundation slabs.  Inside the station, 1,345 tons of steel have been installed.  These include new columns inserted into the perimeter walls on both sides of the brick-covered historic columns along with high strength grout and new steel wall plating, box columns of plate iron that reinforces the existing structural interior columns, and new beams and diaphragm bracing that have been welded to the original steel structure.  New shear walls have been added on multiple sides of the main waiting room. Steel floor plates have been added on levels two and three for additional wall and floor strengthening.  In the clock tower, parts of the floor on level nine have to be demolished so rusted steel beams can be replaced by new ones.  The entire clock tower is also receiving new cross bracing as well as new columns on all corners as indicated in this batch of photos

click to view larger
True color: two welding torches illuminate 9th floor of tower with magenta light. .

Click here to view more photos steel work

2/21/13 New Photos online - plaster work

Ceiling in 1906 was not gold; when fully restored, ceiling and walls will be off-white.

Click here to view more photos

2/20/13 New Photos online - tile and marble

Historic tiles - broken long ago - are being reinstalled exactly as broken. Gaps will be infilled. Click here for more

10.27.2012 Ornamental Plaster Restoration Part 1

Evergeene Architectural Arts is responsible for the station ornamental plaster restoration work. All of the work is done on site.  Numerous methods are being used to create different ornamental details. The primary goal is to create all of the molds necessary to cast new plaster details for section replacement; rather than cumbersome and time consuming repair patches.  

Original pieces shown in this room was used to make matching molds for repairs. Puncture holes from the suspended drop ceilings are reinforced and patched in place.  Round exploration holes cut into the ceiling allow experts to analyze the original plaster condition. It also serves as future mounting attachment points for new plaster or repaired plaster work. Ornamental plaster restoration work is expected to complete by Spring of 2013.

10.27.2012 Ornamental Plaster Restoration Part 2

Mold forms sometimes have to be created from scratch when an original piece is not available. Other times a large removed original section with damages could be repaired prior to mold casting. Molds can also be made directly on an original piece in place. The ultimate goal is to create a rubber mold to use for future plaster replications.

10.27.2012 Ornamental Plaster Restoration Part 3

The low viscosity of the green Vytaflex allows it to be brush on and flows into small complex details. A hard plaster back is also required to hold the flexible rubber mold shape during future casting. Without the structural plaster supporting back the Vytaflex rubber will bend out of shape during casting. Removing the green Vytaflex could be a very difficult task for extra large pieces during the initial mold castings. However, future replication casting using the Vytaflex mold is much easier due to non-stick chemical applications.

10.27.2012 Ornamental Plaster Restoration Part 4

Once a Vytaflex mold is created, it can be use for the reproduction of hundreds of pieces. Chemical reactions initiates when casting plaster is mixed with tap water. The artisan must apply the plaster within 15 minutes before the plaster harden. A layer of hemp is added for additional tensile strength. The plaster is very warm to the touch and chemical vapors can be seen while the plaster is curing.

EPA case study for Historic Preservation and Green Construction

King Street Station featured at American Public Transportation Association Conference
Click here to read the report on sustainable rehabilitation for King Street Station

Podcast: King Street Station Restoration Project Overview


King Street Station is a public asset that is an important part of Seattle’s history. For over one hundred years it has improved connections, serving as a gateway for millions of travelers coming into Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The station has spurred economic growth and helped establish Seattle as a major metropolitan city.

Unfortunately, heavy use and neglect over time have caused King Street Station to fall into disrepair. For years the station has been unable to keep up with the demands of a growing number of commuters and travelers.

March 5, 2008 marked the start of a new era for King Street Station with the City of Seattle’s purchase of the landmark building from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Company.

Under city ownership, King Street Station will undergo a $50 million renovation that will achieve the following goals:

  • Restore the building’s historic character and grandeur
  • Upgrade facilities to meet present and future needs of rail and transit users
  • Enhance passenger safety and security
  • Promote sustainable design with a LEED building certification
  • Support efforts to transform the station into a modern transit hub

Scope of work

  • Replace existing roof with original terra cotta tile roof
  • Repair lighting and remove microwave dish on clock tower
  • Fix the four tower clocks to make them operational
  • Restore interior finishes and exterior building facade
  • Remove suspended tiles from lobby to restore original ornate ceiling
  • Complete seismic and structural upgrades


The restoration is divided into separate phases to repair major elements of the station:

Phase I: Completed July 2009. Station roof fully restored with new terra cotta tiles replicating the original roof tiles. Salvaged glass tiles replace broken ones for the pyramid above the clocks. The four clocks repaired and restarted. Improved lighting installed to illuminate the tower clocks and pyramid. The cracked finial atop the pyramid repaired, and exterior around clocks cleaned.

Phase IIA: Completed August 2011. Installation of a new geothermal well field connected to a heat pump system providing energy efficient heating and cooling for the station. Electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems have been upgraded. Non-historic enclosure on the west including the non-functioning escalator has been removed to restore the station exterior façade.

The Jackson Street Plaza has been transformed into a new public pedestrian plaza. The drop-ceiling in the main waiting room is removed.

Phase TI: Begins March, 2011. Amtrak baggage, ticketing and office facilities will be upgraded to modern standards. Anticipate completion date in April 2012. Amtrak will move into their new space in May 2012.

Phase IIB: Begins March 2012. It will complete building seismic upgrades and restoration of interior and exterior historic architectural details, including the waiting room’s ornamental plaster work. It will complete the distribution upgrades of the building’s mechanical and electrical systems.

Building Access Improvements include: Reopening of the Jackson Plaza entrance to allow station visitors to use a new elevator to access lower station area.  Restoration of the grand staircase connecting the Jackson plaza to the lower station entrance will be reopened to the public at the end of Phase IIB, anticipated to be completed by Spring 2013.

Multi-modal hub planning: Began September 2010, on-going.

Cost & Financing

Restoration of King Street Station is funded by contributions from city, state, and federal governments as well as nonprofit organizations. The voter-approved Bridging the Gap levy provides $10 million to the project. Funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the Washington State Historical Society, the South Downtown Foundation, and 4Culture contribute $40 million to the project. This support makes is leveraged by the Bridging the Gap fund and supports all aspects of the project noted above. Restoration work by the Seattle Department of Transportation began in summer 2008. WSDOT and Amtrak previously purchased new exterior awnings, restored the entryway foyer and waiting area restrooms at a cost of $4 million.

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Parking near the Station

January 2013 Construction Update


Tiếng Việt tờ thông tin


Restoration Goals

Thank You Seattle Funded in part by the Bridging the Gap Transportation Levy

2/07/13 New Photos Online!
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Tilework is restored precisely to its original pattern.

1/31/13 New Photos Online!
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Shear bracing along C-line tops out on 3rd floor, extending to attic level above.

1/14/13 New Photos Online!
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Plasterer prepares to remove backing for new plaster piece.

12/20 New Photos Online!
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Plasterers make measurements at balcony level.

11/7 New Photos Online! Click to view more

Ironworkers work from four lifts along north wall of lobby.

10/29 New Photos Online! Click to view more

Plasterer patches lobby ceiling.

10/22 New Photos Online! Click to view more.

Plasterer pulls back rubber “mother mold”
to reveal replicate piece.

10/15 New Photos Online! Click to view more.

Plasterer prepares historic piece
for replication by rubber mold.

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