South County Recycling and Transfer Station

South County Transfer Station

South County Recycling and Transfer Station

Designing a Future-Focused and Sustainable Solid Waste Facility

King County plans to replace its aging Algona Transfer Station with a facility that will enhance its waste disposal and recycling services while addressing its Strategic Climate Action Plan goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. We were selected to support these goals and created a well-rounded team to provide architectural, engineering, sustainability, environmental and community engagement services for the design of the new $200 million South County Recycling and Transfer Station.

The new facility, built on about 10 acres adjacent to the existing Algona Transfer Station, features separate public customer and commercial vehicle tip floors in an enclosed, odor-controlled building. The site also includes a building for household hazardous waste management, a recycling collection and sorting area, yard waste management, an administration building, scale house and weigh station, a public art installation, and a fueling station.

With sustainability in mind throughout the project life cycle, we designed the facility with the goal of earning the Zero Energy Petal of the Living Building Challenge certification, which encourages the creation of renewable energy sources. The facility would be the first Living Building Challenge-certified solid waste transfer station in the country.

A crucial component of the sustainable energy approach is the HDR-designed rooftop solar array that will provide approximately one-third of the station’s power, with the rest coming from renewable sources provided by surrounding utilities. Our team also designed an on-site rainwater collection system, modular wetlands, and drought-tolerant landscape, which includes rain gardens and enhanced habitats.

Construction is underway, and our team is serving as a partner until completion, which is slated for 2026.  

Finding Solutions for Site Challenges

The project site presented several challenges for our design team.

  • One side of the planned facility includes a steep slope. We designed five retaining walls and brought necessary areas to grade to support the multi-level facility operation.
  • Because the new facility impacts existing wetlands and a stream, we rerouted the stream and added features to allow for fish passage to meet standards set by the local regulatory agencies and in collaboration with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.
  • The nearby highway needed upgrades to provide access for customers and haul trucks and to align curves and sightlines for the speed limit, which was incorporated into this project by our team as a condition of the permitting process.

An Informed Design Process

Our strategic communications team played an integral part in the project development — pivoting during the height of the pandemic to a virtual engagement approach. We facilitated public meetings and created graphics for the groundbreaking ceremony outlining project benefits, features and sustainability initiatives.

We also solicited input from King County Solid Waste Division operations employees, who participated in planning meetings and provided a crucial boots-on-the-ground perspective to the design process. Their contributions helped us design how vehicles will flow through the station, as well as the building layout and functions.

The facility design incorporates a permanent art installation developed by artists from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe that reflects ancestral teachings and highlights the surrounding natural environment by using wood harvested from the project site.

South County Transfer Station
King County

Algona, WA
United States