The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will expand to the nearby steam plant, continuing its recent use as a laboratory building.
Few buildings play host to one world-changing advance, let alone two over the span of a century.
The former Seattle City Light Lake Union Steam Plant, which helped usher Seattle into the electric age in 1914, is one such edifice. Now, its second act as a scientific laboratory will be extended thanks to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which announced a lease Monday to take over the 106,000-square-foot building next fall.
“The Hutch” sees in the steam plant an efficient way to add space adjacent to its large South Lake Union campus.
“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 and director Gary Gilliland said in a statement.
The globally recognized cancer-research center is increasingly reliant on private financial support and industry partnerships, and said it plans to raise funding for the steam-plant expansion, along with new equipment and collaborative research programs.
Financial terms of the 10-year lease with building owner Alexandria Real Estate Equities were not disclosed. A spokesman for the Hutch said planned improvements to the building and their costs are still being determined.
An internal committee will spend the summer evaluating which teams will move to the plant — which has fantastic Lake Union views — likely by fall 2019.
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Perched on a narrow stretch of lakeshore below Interstate 5, the 104-year-old building, with its 35-foot-tall industrial-steel sash windows, is highly visible and recognizable. Its six white smokestacks — replicas of the coal-smoke-belching originals, a requirement of the building’s historic landmark status — today evoke images of the test tubes and graduated cylinders atop the lab benches that have filled the steam plant for going on three decades.
The plant was decommissioned as a power station in 1987. Biotechnology company ZymoGenetics, one of Seattle’s pioneers in the industry, and a developer, invested in transforming the plant to its new purpose in the early 1990s in what then-chief executive Bruce Carter called “the mother of all fixer-uppers.”
ZymoGenetics was acquired in 2010 by pharmaceuticals giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, which began trimming its Seattle staff and announced in late 2016 that it would not renew its lease for the building.
The Fred Hutch lease keeps an iconic piece of the region’s industrial and life-sciences history intact just as work begins on transforming another piece — the former Amgen Helix campus on Elliott Bay, with its pedestrian bridge that mimics the structure of DNA — to office space for travel tech company Expedia.
In other Fred Hutch news, Madrona Venture Group managing director Matt McIlwain was named chairman of its board of trustees, taking over from former Gov. Christine Gregoire. Kathy Surace-Smith, an executive at biotech company NanoString Technologies, became vice-chair. Allen Institute president and chief executive Allan Jones and Lyft chief financial officer Brian Roberts also joined the board.
Also, the Hutch hired David Browdy as vice president and chief financial officer, replacing Randy Main, who retires at the end of June after 33 years overseeing finances.
This story was corrected June 11 at 10:20 a.m. An earlier version incorrectly stated Jones’ title.