Exterior of King Street Station, photo by Ben Benschneider courtesy of SDOT.
Exterior of King Street Station, photo by Ben Benschneider courtesy of SDOT.

ARTS at King Street Station


Seattle is transforming King Street Station into a hub for arts and culture.

ARTS, in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation, will create a dynamic space for arts and culture in the heart of the city.

ARTS engaged in an inclusive, city-wide outreach effort in order to hear from the community about their needs. ARTS' intention with the new space is to increase opportunities for communities of color to present their work. The dedicated cultural space will provide public access to presentation and creative spaces, ARTS staff and resources, space for city convenings, and professional development and other services that were requested through the outreach process.

This is an innovative plan that utilizes an underused city resource to address issues of affordability and livability while preserving the unique creative economy that drives Seattle.


Olson Kundig presentation (PowerPoint, 2.19MB)

Olson Kundig - King Street Station - Design Statement

King Street Station - Design Fact Sheet

Office of Arts & Culture
(206) 684-7171
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Calendar of events at King Street Station:
August 3: ARTS explores Belonging and Resistance with site-specific and collection works More dates to be added in the coming months.

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Frequently asked questions

The third floor of King Street Station, as well as approximately 2,500 square feet of the second floor, will be overseen by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. The spaces will be used for a variety of purposes, including arts presentation space and administrative offices for the Office of Arts & Culture.

We are planning a phased opening beginning in the summer of 2017.

Throughout the course of 2016, our office will be conducting a robust outreach program, hosting meetings in King Street Station to hear your thoughts. We welcome your participation. Please email arts.culture@seattle.gov to join us. 

We will publish the report from this engagement process as soon as it is available, in the second quarter of 2017.

Funded through an increased admissions tax allocation supported by both Mayor Murray and City Council, the King Street Station project was undertaken with intent to preserve and continue the city's cultural funding and public art programs, and provide increased access to those existing programs. No grants programs or public art cuts have been or will be made as a result of undertaking this project.

The Office of Arts & Culture is supported through the Admissions Tax, a five percent tax on every dollar of ticket sales to entertainment and recreational events, including movies, rock concerts and University of Washington football games. Nonprofit cultural organizations and some live music venues are exempt from the tax.  Since 2010, 75% of the collected admissions tax funds have been allocated to the Arts Office, with the remaining 25% going to the city's general fund. In 2016 the Mayor and City Council expanded  support for arts and culture by increasing the Office's allocation of the Admissions Tax to 85%. This increased allocation funds this project.

  • April - June 2016: Planning and Preparation
  • May - December 2016: Community Conversations
  • January - March 2017: Draft King Street Station Programming Plan
  • April 2017: Present community findings and King Street Station Programming Plan

We have already begun facilitating "pop-up" activations of the space at King Street Station. Groups as varied as the ONYX Fine Arts (a collective of artists of African descent), the Lion's Main Art Collective (a community of queer and transgender young artists), Vital 5 Productions (producers of the Out of Sight show, a pacific northwest satellite to the Seattle Art Fair), the TUF Collective (a female-identified & non-binary music and art collective), and many more will be producing in the space in 2016.

The Race and Social Justice Initiative is a plan developed and adopted by the City of Seattle in 2005. It is a reflection of the City's commitment to eliminate racial disparities and achieve racial equity in Seattle. It is the first program of its kind in the United States. The "toolkit" is a series of questions that help the City to frame issues and projects in a racial and social justice context.

In the case of King Street Station, the RSJI toolkit will be the lens through which we will look at the project, a means of ensuring that we are taking historic and contemporary racial inequities and institutionalized racism into account when planning and executing the project.

It is a raw, open, old, warehouse-y space, one of the last of its kind in the downtown core.

The third floor of King Street Station is 17,029 square feet. It is open to the roof of the building, which pitches from about 12 feet high at the perimeter to about 35 feet high at the apex. There is structural truss (both 1906 construction and 2010 seismic retrofitting) throughout the space, and exposed ductwork, conduit, and other mechanical systems. There are structural columns roughly every 15 feet throughout the space.

A large part of the reason we're conducting our extensive outreach program in 2016 is to develop a programming model moving forward that is responsive to the needs of the community. We are seeking a programming model that is both accessible and democratic, but also reflects the highest caliber of work being created in the city. If you would like to be a part of that conversation, please email us at arts.culture@seattle.gov. At the end of 2016, after our engagement outreach, we will begin the process of developing a system for proposing work to be presented in the space.

This is largely to be determined, again, by what we learn through the outreach process. We want to be open and accessible to the thousands of transit and rail passengers who move through the station during the day every week, and also to recognize that most of our city takes advantage of cultural activity outside of their work schedule.

We will develop a system for accessing the third floor of the Station for events as a part of our outreach process in 2016. For use of the first floor space (the main waiting room) you should contact Amtrak directly at Alice.Rose@amtrak.com.

The station is conveniently located at the very point where the Downtown Central Business District, Pioneer Square, and the Chinatown / International District all meet (on Jackson Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues South). There are over a dozen options for reaching the station using public transit.

The Sounder regional commuter train stops at the station, as do all of Amtrak's national and international lines.

The Link Light Rail stops at the International District Station, one block east of the station.

Over 50 Metro bus lines pass within a block of the station, including the 1, the 7, the 36, and the 14.

Where do I park?

There are multiple paid parking lots in the neighborhood.

Yes, there is an ADA-compliant elevator that services every level of the station.

About King Street Station

Historic image of King Street Station

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.

King Street Station first opened to the public in May 1906. Reed and Stem, the architectural firm responsible for New York City's historic Grand Central Terminal, designed the station. The San Marco bell tower of Venice, Italy, served as the model for the building's familiar clock tower. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Interior King Street StationKing Street Station, located on Jackson Street between Third and Fourth Avenue S., is a brick and granite three-story building with a twelve-story clock tower. The ground floor, accessed from King Street, is clad in granite. The walls of the second and third floors, as well as the clock tower, are faced in pressed brick with decorative terra cotta elements such as cornices and window lintels.

While much of the exterior of King Street Station has remained intact since the building was constructed in 1906, parts of the interior have been substantially altered and others have suffered neglect. Similarly, while nearly half of the facility's original finishes remain intact, most of the significant finishes in the lower portion of the station have been removed. In March 2008 the City of Seattle purchased the landmark building from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Company.

Under city ownership, King Street Station underwent a $50 million renovation that achieved the following goals:

Exterior King Steet Station

  • 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
  • The station is served by Amtrak Cascades, Coast Starlight and Empire Builder long distance rail lines and Amtrak intercity buses. It includes convenient connections to Sound Transit commuter rail, local and regional buses, Sound Transit Link light rail, and the First Hill Seattle Streetcar.
  • The restoration of King Street Station ensures it remains a critical transportation hub and gateway into Seattle for the next hundred years.

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