Seattle Port Breaks Ground on Maritime Innovation Center

A rendering of the interior of the Maritime Innovation Center. Image: Port of Seattle.

On May 21, the Port of Seattle broke ground on the renovation and modernization of the historic Ship Supply Building at Fishermen’s Terminal, paving the way for its transformation into what’s being called the Maritime Innovation Center.

The new facility is expected to serve a confluence of maritime industry needs that bring together students and innovators from business, public agencies, and academia, along with community stakeholders to collaborate around maritime industry needs and opportunities, according to the port.

Seattle is partnering with architecture firm Miller Hull in the construction of what’s expected to be a unique architectural feature in the Pacific Northwest.

“Today’s groundbreaking is a celebration of the port’s substantial commitment to support innovation as a way to foster the maritime industry’s ability to sustain our region’s blue economy,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman said.

“The transformation of the port’s oldest asset…symbolizes the port’s recognition of the maritime industry’s significance to our region’s history and future,” he added.

“The future of the maritime industry and the ocean economy is innovative, sustainable and equitable,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins added. “The Maritime Innovation Center will foster an atmosphere of collaboration and innovation which will ensure that all the sectors of the maritime industry, from commercial fishing to the growing green maritime economy, have not only a home but an anchor in Seattle.”

To prepare for the next century of commercial fishing and maritime industrial activity at the terminal, the port is committing over $100 million in new investments as part of a long-term strategic redevelopment plan to maintain docks for commercial fishers, enhance uplands facilities, and accent Fishermen’s Terminal’s history and legacy.

On display when the building opens will be a new set of wayfinding and interpretive signs as well as several new art projects.

The port said that the improvements and investments are expected to ensure that the facility would continue to sustain the maritime industry and Seattle’s working waterfront.

“The maritime industry and the jobs it brings help anchor our regional economy, with this facility supporting the next century of commercial fishing and maritime industrial activity at one of Seattle’s most historic working waterfront properties,” the port said in a statement.

Washington Maritime Blue, an organization committed to the development of maritime business, technology and practices that promote a sustainable future, economic growth and ecological health, is expected to be the new anchor tenant for the Innovation Center.

As a so-called “Living Building,” the center will generate its own energy, capture its own water, and process its own waste. Some of the advanced sustainability and resiliency features include:

  • Net positive energy
  • Salvaged materials
  • Reduced carbon emissions
  • Rainwater capture
  • Stormwater treatment
  • Gray and black water treatment

The adaptive reuse project is expected to maintain and respect the form and mass of the original 1918-built building on the working waterfront, and most of the building and its century-old heavy timber structure is to be salvaged and reused.

Miller Hull has committed to using locally sourced and industrially appropriate materials, along with the additions of rainwater cisterns and an on-site photovoltaic array.

“This landmark project … will not only preserve the Ship Supply Building’s rich heritage but propel the maritime industry into a more innovative and resilient future,” Miller Hull Principal Mike Jobes said. “The Maritime Innovation Center will stand as a testament to the Port of Seattle’s and Miller Hull’s shared commitment to sustainability, resilience, and community.”