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Project Profile: Freeway Park: Washington State Convention Center Expansion Project, Seattle, Washington

Image of park.

The Freeway Park is the largest public park in downtown Seattle with designs featuring concrete and greenery.

Source: Credit to the City of Seattle

Project Name

Freeway Park: Washington State Convention Center Expansion Project


Seattle, Washington

Project Sponsor / Borrower

Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR)

Program Areas

Alternative Project Delivery Value Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Private Contribution


Other: Park


Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington is the Nation’s first park built over a freeway. It opened between 6th and 7th Avenues over Interstate 5 in July 1976 as a celebration of the U.S. bicentennial. The 5.2-acre park, the largest public park in downtown Seattle, was built with Forward Thrust bond funds for residents, shoppers, and visitors to enjoy. The park includes distinct areas tied together by concrete, greenery, and furnishings, along with a series of irregular, linked plazas that are intertwined and enclosed by board-formed concrete planting containers and walls. It includes a 30-foot concrete canyon and Naramore Fountain, which existed before the park was built but was incorporated into the park’s design.

The expansion project aims to replace 12 entrances to the main part of the park with four primary entrances located along key city walking routes that pass the park and connect to primary walking routes through the park. Plans currently underway will repair, restore, and enhance Freeway Park’s original features in support of daily use, maintenance, and public programming.

Proposed improvements include infrastructure upgrades related to lighting, wayfinding signage, planting, accessibility, entrances, programming, and services; repairs to drainage, irrigation, and seating; new restrooms, play-safe fountains, and permanent storage; and a café, information booth, children’s play area, gateways, and infrastructure for events and daily programming.


$10 million (including $6 million of construction budget)

  • $750,000 for activation
  • $9,250,000 for capital improvements

Funding Sources

Washington State Convention Center Expansion Project - $10 million. The Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) operates as a Public Facilities District (PFD) - a municipal corporation with independent taxing authority that is a taxing district under the state constitution. The WSCC PFD was officially formed by King County Ordinance 16883 on July 19, 2010, and is directed by a nine-member board of community members appointed by the State of Washington, King County, and the City of Seattle.

Project Delivery / Contract Method

Lump Sum Low Bid-Build

Private Partner

  • Walker|Macy (Lead, Landscape Architecture)
  • HDR (Civil & Structural Engineering, Irrigation)
  • Bassetti (Architecture)
  • Studio Matthews (Wayfinding)
  • Watt (Lighting)
  • Reyes Engineering (Electrical Engineering)
  • ETM (Programming)
  • 3 Square Blocks (Public Involvement)
  • BOLA (Historic Preservation)
  • DCW (Cost Estimating)
  • BRH (Survey)
  • Freeway Park Association (FPA)

Project Advisors / Consultants

  • FPA
  • Freeway Park Advisory Committee
  • Seattle Design Commissione
  • The City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Historic Preservation Programe
  • Compass Housing Alliancee
  • Downtown Seattle Association
  • First Hill Improvement Association
  • Horizon House
  • Lid I-5 Steering Committee
  • Town Hall
  • Visit Seattle
  • Washington Holdings
  • Washington State Convention Center
  • Washington Department of Transportation



Duration / Status

Construction began in 2019 and is scheduled to be complete in 2022.

Financial Status/Financial Performance

The project totaled $10 million, with $6 million being designated to construction.


  • Use of strategies such as a botanical walk, an interpretive walk, temporary art installations, and fitness programs to activate interstitial zones between primary park spaces to reinforce the idea of using the whole park.
  • An integrated approach to wayfinding includes modifications to the landscape as well as new elements including, lighting, signage, and maps.
  • Use of “Layers of light” to provide low levels of ambient light, marked paths, accent the park’s iconic features and lush landscape, and invite people to enjoy the park after dark.

Related Links / Articles


Katie Bang
Senior Capital Projects Coordinator

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