Denny Substation – Seattle, Washington - Atlas Obscura

Denny Substation

The Denny Substation has been called "the coolest substation in the world" and sits in a densely populated Seattle neighborhood. 


You might be asking yourself “am I really reading about a power station?” Yes, but this is no ordinary power station. Denny Substation, designed by architecture firm NBBJ, is located in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, less than a mile from Pike Place Market. The substation has a distinct design that at first glance seems to be an elaborate art installation or postmodern house. It’s actually a unique combination of community space, art gallery, off-leash dog area, and working power station.

Denny Substation has two major pieces of public art: “Transforest,” a 110-foot old-growth tree that is also a transmission tower, and “Switchwall,” a strip of colored lights and rotation flaps that changes direction with the wind. 

There’s one more exhibit on the elevated portion of the station that is reminiscent of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Large crystal shapes emerge from the elevated platform. If you place your hand on one of them, the warmth from your hand should light the crystal.

Operated by Seattle City Light, Denny Substation includes on-site solar power, a heat recovery system, and other energy conservation elements. When fully online, will be able to power most, if not all, of the South Lake Union neighborhood.

Know Before You Go

Denny Substation is located in South Lake Union near the REI headquarters and anchor store. It's reachable by car (off of I-5), by foot from downtown Seattle, and via a number of bus lines.

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December 6, 2019

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