Expanding Aquatic Transit on the Urban Waterfront

Colman Dock Water Taxi and Passenger‑Only Ferry Facility

King County

As sea levels rise and usurp the land, the architecture and infrastructure of Seattle’s waterfront strive to reestablish a co-existence between land and sea. A new queuing shelter for bicycle and pedestrian ferry patrons will pursue design in concert with, not opposed to, the fluctuations of the aquatic edge.


Seattle, WA

Year Complete


A Nexus of Activity on Elliott Bay

Situated at the foot of Yesler near the mouth of the Duwamish River, the site has served as fishing and foraging grounds for native communities, as commercial node for the region’s lumber harvest, and more recently as primary water transit hub for thousands of daily commuters. In this progression, adjacent tidal flats were filled and the city’s terrestrial edge hardened, diminishing daily consciousness of the ocean’s ebb and flow. Colman Dock’s new design will expand the growing population’s engagement with the ocean and help reconnect the city core, visually and spatially, to its waterfront.

Evolving Urban Transit Habits

At the south edge of the dock, the Marine Division of the King County Department of Transportation operates two water taxi routes to West Seattle and Vashon Island, an affordable public service that will eventually expand to Kitsap County and Ballard. Evolving urban transit habits and King County’s surging ridership necessitates a new facility to provide more dependable shelter for the long queues of passengers, and to improve accessibility to public transportation alternatives.

The layout intends to bring both adaptability and control to the waves of commuters and tourists alike, and will help celebrate the actions and processes of the urban experience. The new shelter will also honor the belligerence of the sea. The design doesn’t intend to prevent an advance of floodwater, but instead to anticipate inundation, minimize damage, and maintain operational mobility during critical urban distress. It is about the capacity of an urban threshold to negotiate with the wild, volatile and chronic shifts of climate. It implores a resilient allowance for water to interject and envelop us, and to ensure that the bold vibrancy of the city endures, however soggy.