Skip to content

Portage Bay Crossing

Where a community comes together to accomplish big things.

A dynamic, multidisciplinary urban community

The University of Washington is creating a new urban district that will merge education and student life with cutting-edge research and action to solve the critical challenges facing the people of Seattle, Washington state, the Pacific Northwest — and the world.

Portage Bay Crossing, on the west side of the UW campus in Seattle, will be a place where students and faculty experts across multiple fields — including public health, engineering, life sciences, social work, public policy, and the arts and humanities — partner with trailblazing public and nonprofit institutions, private companies, and the Seattle community to harness the UW’s culture of entrepreneurial thinking, innovation and positive impact.

This is a long-term commitment; the University will develop Portage Bay Crossing in partnership with the private sector over the next several decades. This new district will also provide new options for how the University uses its campus space.

At a glance

Brightwork: The inaugural building

Birdseye view looking North at W27 and the Burke Gilman Trail and belvedere green space becoming the gateway to Portage Bay Crossing

Kick-starting the new district will be Brightwork, an 11-story space for offices, labs and collaboration, located at Brooklyn Avenue NE and NE 40th Street.

Brightwork will bring UW researchers and students together with nonprofit and private enterprises working in the fields of clean energy, biotech, health care, advanced materials and environmental sciences, to help spur innovations that accelerate solutions for a sustainable future.

The building will offer market-rate leasable spaces for partners aligned with the UW mission, including three anchor tenants:


The UW has partnered with Wexford Science + Technology — which works exclusively with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions — to develop and manage Brightwork. This inaugural building will join 16 other Wexford “Knowledge Communities” across the U.S., each built on a foundation of research, discovery, entrepreneurship, corporate engagement and community inclusion.

Explore leasing

“We envision a lively and vibrant place with a mix of academic, arts, culture and retail spaces where students, researchers, innovators and community members can engage in support of the UW’s learning, research, health-care and public-service missions.”

Lou CarielloUW Vice President for Facilities

The benefits of bridging the campus and city

Community, innovation and knowledge all thrive on collaboration. Portage Bay Crossing will harness the University’s vibrant student life and abundant offerings to build bridges between the campus and the wider community. Bringing together experts from across multiple fields and sectors will spark meaningful partnerships and world-changing solutions. And the district’s thoughtful, intentional synergy of arts, culture, academia, retail and gathering spaces will encourage interaction among varied groups, benefiting everyone who lives, works and visits here.

The campus community

UW students, faculty and staff will gain valuable experience through research collaborations with a broad array of cross-campus and external partners right on their doorstep. Bringing diverse perspectives, skills and ideas together in one place will also enhance the scale of the UW’s interdisciplinary education, research and outreach activities.

Industry and government

Portage Bay Crossing will serve as an incubator of new businesses, technologies, research-informed policies and practices, and more. Corporate and governmental partners can take advantage of these new opportunities, get involved in teaching and research programs, and benefit from the University of Washington’s impressive pool of talented students with top-notch training and education.

The public

All communities will be welcome at Portage Bay Crossing. As well as offering a vibrant arts presence and increased retail amenities, it will invigorate the U District with renewed communal spirit. Expanded green space and a new freshwater shoreline with bike and waterfront trail connections will provide a pleasing respite for cyclists, walkers and boaters.

Honoring the peoples of this land

The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.

We also acknowledge and honor the Tribal nations across Washington state and the many Indigenous peoples from across the country who live and work in Seattle and its surrounding areas.