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Design for Tacoma Art Museum’s front plaza features large weather shelter, connection to parking lot

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on June 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
June 22, 2011 11:24 am

Tacoma Art Museum has unveiled a conceptual design by Olson Kundig architects for the remodel of its Pacific Avenue plaza area. The design (viewable here), which features a large, translucent-material weather shelter as well as artwork, a connection to the parking lot and a suggested similar construction in Tollefson Plaza across the road, is being presented to the City of Tacoma’s Environment and Public Works committee at an open meeting next Wednesday afternoon.

The design is still in early stages and may well change, says Stephanie Stebich, museum director. TAM’s website shows an artist’s rendition of the final view looking north from Union Station. A carport-shaped weather shelter made of a translucent, fiberglass-looking material extends from the roofline of the existing Antoine Predock building over the open plaza, with a connection to the elevators that currently lead visitors from the parking lot inside the museum’s lobby.

“This design addresses our key concerns – the challenges of the weather, visibility, access and parking lot connection,” said Stebich. These concerns were laid out in the museum’s original design call in 2009 (www.tacomaartmuseum.org/Page.aspx?hid=4054), which also elaborated the museum’s need for outdoor programming space and a desire to be seen as “the heart of Tacoma”.

Stebich and TAM board president Janine Terrano will present the design to the City’s Environment and Public Works committee at an open meeting at 4:30 p.m. June 22 in room 16 of the Municipal Building on St. Helens Avenue.

The presentation is just a briefing to keep the City informed, Stebich says, since the museum is working closely with the City on nearby projects such as the Prairie Line trail (see Pete Callaghan’s TNT story here) and the renovation of the Pacific Avenue streetscape.

And while the Olson Kundig design includes an echo counterpart to TAM’s plaza overhang in nearby Tollefson Plaza, owned by the City, Stebich says that’s just a concept rather than a suggestion to the City.

“We like that Olson Kundig are thinking beyond the lines of Tacoma Art Museum to the community,” she explains.

Artwork for the new plaza, which will be a combination of donated, bought and commissioned artwork, Stebich says, will be confirmed later in the final design process, beginning this summer. Some will be permanent, some temporary. She also sees a need to “soften the hardscape” with plants, possibly natives, as well as leaving some open spaces for future museum staff to work with.

Update: Just found out that Stebich and Terrano are no longer on the agenda for this afternoon.

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