Park preparations begin for Tacoma's Sun King installation

A spell of dry and sunny weather has allowed contractors to begin site preparations on a park near Thea Foss...

A spell of dry and sunny weather has allowed contractors to begin site preparations on a park near Thea Foss Waterway that will soon be home to Tacoma’s Sun King sculpture.

Seven years ago, the three-ton, 15-foot-tall, 22-foot-wide steel frame sculpture wrapped in a silicon bronze skin was removed from the corner of Broadway and South 13th Street — its home for three decades — to make way for a new piece of public art. Today, Sun King, which was created by Corvallis, Ore.-based sculptor Tom Morandi nearly 40 years ago, sits in storage at the City of Tacoma’s Fleet Operations Headquarters.

In December, the City of Tacoma began to accept bids on a $25,000 project that would take Sun King out of storage and place it in a park located at South 15th Street and Dock Street. Five contractors submitted bids, with Puyallup, Wash.-based D & D Construction submitting the least expensive bid and being awarded the contract.

Earlier this month, the Tacoma Daily Index reported record rainfall in March delayed moving the public art out of storage and into a public park in downtown Tacoma.

A visitor to the area Friday morning noticed the park has been temporarily cordoned off and a contractor has dug an area to pour concrete for the sculpture’s base. Once the concrete is poured, the contractor and the City of Tacoma are expected to wait three-to-four weeks before the sculpture is moved out of storage and placed in the park. One plan is to celebrate Sun King’s re-installation in time for the summer solstice on June 21.

***UPDATE*** Fri., April 11 @ 8:59 a.m. | City of Tacoma Public Works Project Engineer Dan Cederlund reports: “The concrete pour is scheduled for Monday at 9:30 a.m. Sun King set is approx[imately] the end of the 1st week of May. This will give the landscaping 6 weeks to recover before the dedication ceremony on the solstice (tentatively planned for Friday June 20th).”

***UPDATE*** Mon., April 14, 10:04 a.m. | Here are photos from the concrete pour Monday morning:

***UPDATE*** Weds., April 16, 9:48 a.m. |  Tacoma Daily Index Editor Todd Matthews contacted sculptor Tom Morandi this week via e-mail for his comments on the project:

TODD MATTHEWS / TACOMA DAILY INDEX: Have you been involved recently in the efforts under way at Tacoma City Hall to install Sun King in a park along Thea Foss Waterway? If so, how and/or in what ways? Have they consulted you? Have you visited the park?

TOM MORANDI: I have been consulted or notified at virtually every major step over the years from dismantling the sculpture, through the current site selection. My primary contact has been [City of Tacoma Arts Administrator] Amy McBride. Although I haven’t visited the site, Google Maps has given me a good sense of the space. In addition, both Amy and Dan Cederlund, the project engineer, have provided extensive overviews of the park’s future and Sun King’s place in it.

TODD MATTHEWS / TACOMA DAILY INDEX: What are your thoughts about Sun King returning to public view by this summer after it was in storage for so long?

TOM MORANDI: Of course, I’m pleased at the prospect of having Sun King sited in a public place again. The time spent in storage is negligible when compared to the decades and beyond I expect it to be at the park.

TODD MATTHEWS / TACOMA DAILY INDEX: Will you be in Tacoma when the piece is set and/or for the dedication ceremony?

TOM MORANDI: I plan to be at the dedication and am very much looking forward to seeing the piece again.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of Tacoma’s Sun King, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at

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