Northern State Hospital: Past, Present, and Future Use

Author: Jim Darling Published: March 10, 2015

Over 100 years ago, the State of Washington took a bold step in opening the Northern State Hospital, a state-of-the-art residential mental health facility in Sedro-Woolley. The campus, designed by the world-renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm, consists of some 1,000 planned campus acres and over 600,000 square feet of Spanish Colonial revival buildings originally designed for treatment, residences, and services.

The Northern State Hospital closedIMG_0618 in 1973. Since then, the state and local community have sought opportunities to utilize this public asset. In 2014, the City of Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County, and Port of Skagit formed a partnership to study the potential for adaptive re-use of the property. MFA was hired to lead that planning effort, which engaged the community to create a vision for future use that facilitates economic opportunities and respects the site’s historic character.

Coincidently, the Gates Foundation has partnered with Janicki Bioenergy of Sedro-Woolley to develop and promote a groundbreaking, innovative technology, the Omniprocessor. This technology, the first in a series of such technologies, offers the affordable conversion of human waste into potable water that also spins off generated electricity. This unique approach meets the technical, cultural, and economic challenges of providing badly needed waste treatment systems in the developing third world.2014-06-05 N State_1735

The Northern State Hospital campus is being evaluated as the location for a research and development campus that would support Janicki Bioenergy and complementary uses. Forecasted to generate upwards of 1,000 technical jobs, the revitalized campus will adaptively reuse historic buildings for offices, research labs, and interpretive and training facilities, as well as visiting hospitality facilities.

MFA is leading a Northwest team of highly qualified professionals to support the Port of Skagit, City of Sedro-Woolley, and Skagit County as they take the lead for the community in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. MFA is pleased to partner with RMC Architects, Stephen Day Architects, Strategies 360, Heartland LLC, and a number of other critical contributing firms.

The Northern State Hospital project is another great example of MFA helping clients clean up a complex brownfield site and repurpose it for new use.

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_J. Darling

Jim Darling

Vice President/Principal Planner