Lake Union Laboratory (LULab) is a collaboratory research project created to explore the overlapping and interdependent social, environmental, economic and technological dynamics of the city, specifically the Lake Union area of Seattle, Washington. This project serves as a means to investigate how multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary models of research can build on the foundations of explorations in the historical, the spatial, the digital, and the experiential. Lake Union Laboratory is being established for the investigation of cities and urbanism beginning with one city Seattle and one neighborhood, Lake Union.
Lake Union is at once emblematic of and somewhat divergent from several key trends in contemporary urbanization. In ways that are resonant with similar experiences in countless other cities nationally and globally, the communities surrounding Lake Union have undergone several decades of post-industrial reinvention. At the same time however, Lake Union offers remarkable case in which a very particular combination of technological enterprises—not the usual suspects in large scale urban re-development—have converged to channel huge amounts of capital into a large project of creative destruction and renewal in a world-class urban core. Both of these realities are tightly bound to shifts in the structure of the global economy that have been unfolding for decades, and the outcomes for Lake Union could be informative for future urban planning and policy debates more broadly.
LULab is a collaboration led by Kim England (Geography), Susan Kemp (School of Social Work), Margaret O'Mara (History, College of Arts & Sciences), and Thaisa Way (Landscape Architecture, College of Built Environments), all of whom are faculty members at the University of Washington.