When a state, a university, a college, and a town came together, they were able to beat the odds and create a two-institution campus that serves students, respects surrounding neighborhoods, and restores a Washington wetland.

Faced with increasing enrollment demands, the Washington State Higher Education Coordination Board was tasked with creating new campuses in key growth areas across the state that would serve an additional 60,000 students by the year 2010. As a part of this growth plan, there was a need to introduce two new schools 15 miles north of Seattle—the Bothell campus for the University of Washington (UW) and the new Cascadia Community College. However, this meant the development of two separate site plans, two budgets, and two environmental impact studies. In addition to this, available sites in that area were limited and expensive.

The 127-acre Truly Farm site in Bothell was selected to be the combined home for UW’s Bothell campus and the newly created community college. The decision to co-locate would use land judiciously, realize cost savings through shared amenities, and fulfill the need for the area’s a projected enrollment base of 10,000 students. An important goal, however, was to maintain the separate identities of each institution while doing so. The terraced hillside hosts the primary structures with pathways and views that connect to the wetlands below. The project is carefully crafted to re-establish the rich natural setting that was once in place, making it a natural laboratory serving environmental studies.

Restoring the Wetlands

The remaining 60 acres of land was dedicated to what became the largest wetlands restoration project in the Pacific Northwest. Despite efforts by the planning team to minimize impact to wetlands by locating the campus on the hill slope, development of the campus still used six acres of wetlands. While it would have been possible to meet the mitigation requirements on the site without restoring the entire floodplain and channel, the State made a commitment that went far beyond regulatory requirements to enhance the site’s environmental status.

The uplands portion of the site, while buildable, had significant portions of land designated as wetlands. Environmental regulations required that new wetlands would have to be created elsewhere. The solution was to return the lowlands to its original North Creek meander and the development saw the return of 3,200 feet of the North Creek (a salmon bearing stream) to its original floodplain, restoring 54 acres of adjoining wetlands, and planting native trees, shrubs and plants.

The National Wildlife Federation gave the project high honors, and in 2008 Forbes Magazine listed the campus among the U.S.’s top-10 green college campuses.
Getting Back to Nature
Back to Nature
Back to Nature
Back to Nature
Back to Nature

Awards and Publications


AIA, Honor Award, NW Pacific Region
Honor Award, AIA, Seattle Chapter


Change Design, "Swimming Upstream,", pp. 113-127, 2009