Skanska USA has signed an agreement with the Samis Foundation to develop a new tower linking the cultural and financial core of downtown Seattle with the waterfront.

Under the deal, Skanska will be responsible for leasing and developing the foundation’s downtown Seattle property located east to west between Second and First Avenues, and north to south between University and Seneca Streets.

The construction firm approached the foundation three years ago with a vision for the Second and University properties, now referred to as 2&U.

Scheduled to be completed in 2019, the planned project includes a Class-A office tower with about 725,000ft² of leasable space with shops, restaurants and public spaces at the ground floor.

"The location of 2&U is really at the seam of our city…We want to create a fresh and compelling experience between the waterfront and the rest of downtown."

Samis executive board member involved in the transaction Eli Almo said: "Skanska’s inspiring vision for our property will provide long-term value to support our philanthropic mission.

"This vision will strengthen this most critical area of downtown Seattle, creating a long-lasting, memorable impact on the quality of life in our city’s business district."

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During the project’s design and development process, Skanska will jointly work with the downtown community to discuss how 2&U’s design could connect tenants, visitors and neighbours to civic and cultural amenities such as the Seattle waterfront, Seattle Art Museum and the downtown transit tunnel.

Skanska USA Commercial Development in Seattle executive vice-president Lisa Picard said: "The location of 2&U is really at the seam of our city.

"We want to create a fresh and compelling experience between the waterfront and the rest of downtown that invigorates the work environment for companies having, or seeking, an address in the core."

The Skanska team for 2&U includes US-based architect Pickard Chilton, which was selected from a ‘design hack-a-thon’ process that started with seven internationally recognised design firms.

This is Skanska’s fourth development project in the Puget Sound region since commencing Seattle development operations in 2011.