Historic steam plant in Seattle gets a fresh new look courtesy of Fred Hutch

Workers are in the process of painting the north stack of the old Seattle Steam Plant. (Fred Hutch Photo)

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has a historic new signpost on Seattle’s Lake Union. The institution has started adding its name on the Lake Union Steam Plant’s iconic smokestacks in the first visible sign of its impending occupation of the space.

Fred Hutch’s lease on the building officially starts in June, but it doesn’t plan on moving in until early next year. The research center first announced its decision to sign a 10-year lease in June 2018.

The highly-visible smokestacks, which greet drivers along Interstate 5, are replicas of the original stacks and were installed in 1994 when the building received historic preservation status.

A rendering of the lab’s proposed interior. (Fred Hutch Rendering)

The new laboratory space will be the home of Fred Hutch researchers focused on immunotherapy and translational data science, among other programs. Nearly 300 employees will eventually settle into the 106,000 square-foot building, which will have nine labs for immunotherapy and six for computational biology. The new digs expand Fred Hutch’s wet lab space by 15 percent and its total real estate footprint to 1.4 million square feet.

“With world-class lab space already onsite, the Steam Plant saves us time that a full build-out would otherwise require while providing another base for the critical work our growing team of researchers, faculty and staff do every day,” Fred Hutch President Dr. Gary Gilliland said in a press release at the time of the announcement.

The Lake Union steam plant in 1921. (Seattle Municipal Archives)

Fred Hutch will benefit from the groundwork done by the building’s former tenant, ZymoGenetics, a Seattle-based biotech that moved into the steam plant building in the early 1990s and held the lease until last year. At the time ZymoGenetics decided to take over the building, then-CEO Bruce Carter called the steam plant “the mother of all fixer-uppers.” The steam plant was first built in 1914 and abandoned in 1987.

ZymoGenetics was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2010, and the decision to leave the steam plant was part of a broader reorganization of its research centers.

The steam plant building is owned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, which also built the Seattle headquarters for Juno Therapeutics.

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