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A young visitor skates over the water quality channel.

Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel
Seattle, WA

Carved out of an abandoned parking lot, the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel is a water treatment facility and public open space that connects the community while restoring the environment.

SvR designed and engineered this 2.7-acre urban respite with an artfully meandering channel that treats runoff from 680 acres. The channel creates a graceful, natural space at the heart of the mixed-use development that features condominiums, apartments, restaurants, retailers, and a movie theater. There is a continuous expression of water flowing, pooling and cascading in the channel, but during and after storms the full capability of the broad channel bottom is engaged for water quality treatment. The design and grading of this narrow site addresses significant topographic changes between the channel and street. Overlooks and bridges allow pedestrians to enjoy the channel habitat and wildlife. Form meets function at the channel, becoming a truly high performance landscape.

Resource: Operations and Maintenance Manual for Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel (5.5 Mb PDF)

Visitors take in the lush nature in the upper channel.

Significant civil engineering work was undertaked to bring the piped water to the surface.

During construction, excavation and earthworks were carefully coordinated while green retaining walls (center left) were planted in palattes of native plant species.

A high-performance landscape, the TCWQC layers multiple urban systems onto one another creating a multi-functional urban environment.



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