Wright Runstad & Company

Major Rebuild for University of Washington’s Iconic Husky Stadium

University of Washington’s Husky Stadium opens before the 2013 football season after a two-year, $280 million renovation. 

The University of Washington Husky football team played its 2013 opening game after a two-year, $280 million renovation that rebuilt the track, field and lower stands of the historic Husky Stadium. Wright Runstad & Company, a Seattle-based real estate development management company and valued, long-time client of Foster Pepper, was chosen by the university as the lead developer for the renovation. The 94-year-old Husky Stadium, which has hosted several memorable moments throughout its history, still maintains its iconic look and ideal location.  

THE RENOVATION

On August 31, 2013, the University of Washington Huskies played their opening game against Boise State after a two-year, $280 million rebuild to their stadium on the shores of Lake Washington. Fans immediately saw several drastic changes, with only the upper north stands remaining intact. This renovation has been a long time coming: the University of Washington has been working to restore Husky Stadium for approximately 15 years. Foster Pepper represented Wright Runstad & Company, the stadium developer chosen by the University of Washington in 2010, with land permitting and approvals required for the redevelopment.

Several modifications were made to Husky Stadium during the renovation that enhanced the fan experience, while maintaining the superiority of the stadium. Premium seating, including luxury and patio suites, were added for the first time and to optimize sightlines for fans, the track surrounding the field was removed and the field itself was lowered four feet and shifted to the north approximately seven feet. A football operations support building, including locker rooms, weight rooms, a team meeting room, recruiting lounges, player lounges and coaches offices, were added and integrated into the west end zone. The lower bowl and upper south stands, which hadn’t been replaced in decades, were demolished and reconstructed. A 200-stall parking garage was added below the south side of the stadium.

The University of Washington also made it one of their goals for this project to be sustainable and 95 percent of the construction waste was repurposed into the design of the new stadium. The old synthetic turf surface was removed and stored for installation at another local field. The aluminum benches from the old stadium were salvaged to be re-used as drink rails.

However, despite all of these significant restorations, Husky Stadium has remained much the same as it always was. The shape of the stadium hasn’t changed. The unique cantilever roofs that trap noise, making Husky Stadium one of the loudest stadiums in the country, are still intact. The breathtaking views of Lake Washington, where fans continue to “boat-gate” before games, and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges that can be seen from the north upper deck will always be a treasured part of the stadium. The rebuild was so successful because it improved, instead of changed, one of the most unique and beautiful stadiums in college football.  

DEVELOPER OF SEATTLE ICONS

In August 2010, the University of Washington selected Wright Runstad & Company to be the lead developer of the renovation of Husky Stadium. The selection was made by the Husky Stadium Advisory Committee with Wright Runstad & Company outbidding two other companies. Other members on the development team included 360 Architecture for design, Turner Construction Company for general contracting and building and MKA for structural and civil engineering.

Founded in 1972, Wright Runstad & Company is a Seattle-based real estate development and management company known for the development of multiple iconic buildings in Seattle, including 1111 Third Avenue, 1201 Third Avenue (the former Washington Mutual Tower), 999 Third Avenue Wells Fargo Center and properties in Bellevue, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Currently, Wright Runstad & Company is working on the redevelopment of Rainier Square, a part of the University of Washington’s Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle; The Spring District, a 36-acre environmentally-sustainable, transit-oriented, mixed-use urban neighborhood in Bellevue; and 1200 North, a 2.5 acre site on the north end of Beacon Hill.

With more than four million square feet of developed or managed space with current or pending LEED certification, Wright Runstad & Company is a leader in sustainable development projects in the region. 

Foster Pepper land use attorneys Thomas Walsh and Steven Gillespie represented Wright Runstad & Company on the stadium redevelopment project. Their work included seeking compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act and City of Seattle regulations in connection with historic preservation, zoning and related land use matters. 

THE STADIUM

This renovation is only the latest development in a long history for Husky Stadium. Built in 1920, Husky Stadium has hosted several memorable events over the years. President Warren Harding delivered one of his final speeches in 1923 before he died in San Francisco six days later. Colonel Lindberg, who flew the world’s first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, flew his Spirit of St. Louis over Husky Stadium in September 1927 with a crowd of 25,000 people looking on. Husky Stadium hosted the NCAA track and field championships in 1951, as well as exhibition games for the National Football League and American Football league, the 1972 AAU track and field championships and the opening ceremony for the 1990 Goodwill Games. Husky Stadium is even credited as being the birthplace of “The Wave” thanks to the October 1981 UW vs. Stanford game.

Foster Pepper was honored to contribute to the recent renovation of Husky Stadium, which will greatly benefit the University of Washington and Husky fans for generations to come.