Art installation proposed for downtown Tacoma Theater District facade

A bare wall located between two historic downtown Tacoma buildings could soon serve as a canvas for a major art installation.

The solid facade is situated between the historic Kress Building, located at 934-936 Broadway, and the C. N. Gardner Building, located at 928-930 Broadway, in the city’s Theater District. The Kress Building was designed by architect E. J. T. Hoffman, built in 1925, and added to Tacoma’s Register of Historic Places in 2006. The C. N. Gardner Building was designed by architect George W. Bullard, built in 1907, and added to Tacoma’s Register of Historic Places in 2001.

According to a proposal prepared by the property owners and submitted to Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the wall is located on the site of a former building that was reportedly destroyed during a major fire. The site was infilled with a modern elevator, stairwells, and bathrooms during a renovation of the Kress Building. The current property owners connected the interval floors as part of another renovation that created 30,000 square feet for the offices of the United States Geological Survey Washington Water Science Center. Streetfront tenants located in the two buildings include Kompan and Swenson Say Faget.

“The ownership is seeking approval to create a space on the exterior bore wall to install an art installation that will enhance the vitality of the Broadway Theater District,” wrote Eric Cederstrand, who is identified as a member of the ownership group in the proposal submitted to Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. “We believe this will be a very nice addition to a rather bleak-looking wall and help build the identity of the arts along Broadway.”

The art installation will be created by Seattle-based artist Jonathan Clarren and consist of three metal, laser-cut half-spheres ranging in diameter between three feet and nearly seven feet, and feature an intricate design pattern, according to the proposal. Once installed, the art is expected to “cast unique shadow patterns on the wall enhancing the display and always changing.” The project is estimated to cost approximately $20,000 to $25,000.

City staff note the historic facade is being retained and preserved; the installation will be located on the non-historic infill; no historic material is being removed or destroyed; the artwork is compatible in massing, size, and scale; and the installation can be removed without harming the historic material.

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal during a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Weds., May 13, at Tacoma City Hall, located at 747 Market St., Room 248, in downtown Tacoma. Copies of the agenda and meeting materials are available online here.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the historic Kress Building and C. N. Gardner Building, click on the following links: