***UPDATE*** Sun King sculpture to be placed in Tacoma park this month

After more than seven years in storage, Tacoma's massive Sun King sculpture is scheduled to see light of day this...

After more than seven years in storage, Tacoma’s massive Sun King sculpture is scheduled to see light of day this week.

City of Tacoma Public Works Project Engineer Dan Cederlund told the Tacoma Daily Index Tuesday morning D & D Construction, a contractor hired by the City, is planning to move the three-ton, 15-foot-tall, 22-foot-wide bronze-and-steel sculpture from a storage facility to a public park near Thea Foss Waterway.

It will be the end of a long journey for a piece of public art that was installed in late-March of 1976 near the corner of Broadway and South 13th Street, just steps from the 25-story, 338-room Sheraton Hotel. Seven years ago, however, Sun King was placed in storage to make way for the glass-and-steel sculpture “Orizon” by Greek artist Costas Varotsos. The expensive, 104-foot-tall sculpture was a signal of sorts for a new era: the former Sheraton Hotel was stylishly renovated and renamed Hotel Murano. The Sun King, which was originally commissioned for $35,000, was displaced.

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

In February, the Tacoma Daily Index was invited to view the sculpture, which has been stored for two years at the City’s Fleet Operations Headquarters — a sprawling, 75,000-square-foot, hangar-like structure where more than two-dozen City employees service and maintain some 1,200 police cars, garbage trucks, fire engines, and electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, record rainfall in March delayed slightly Sun King’s return. But in April, the contractor cordoned off the park and poured concrete for the sculpture’s base.

“I’m pleased at the prospect of having Sun King sited in a public place again,” Sun King sculptor Tom Morandi told the Tacoma Daily Index last month. “The time spent in storage is negligible when compared to the decades and beyond I expect it to be at the park.”

According to Cederlund, the contractor is expected to remain on-site for several days following Sun King’s installation to complete landscaping work related to the project.

The City has tentatively scheduled a dedication ceremony for Sun King on Fri., June 20, the day before summer solstice.

***UPDATE*** Tues., May 20 @ 11:03 a.m. | City of Tacoma Public Works Project Engineer Dan Cederlund shares the following schedule for moving Sun King out of storage at the City of Tacoma’s Fleet Operations Headquarters and into a public park near South 15th Street and Dock Street:

  • 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Contractor arrives at Fleet Services.
  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Contractor loads Sun King’s three pieces and transports them to the public park in downtown Tacoma.
  • 2 p.m. to ??? — Contractor installs Sun King in public park.

***UPDATE*** Fri., May 16 @ 9:30 a.m. | The move date for Sun King has been re-scheduled to Weds., May 21. The contractor needs additional equipment to facilitate transportation of the art work.

***UPDATE*** Weds., May 14 @ 2:21 p.m. | City of Tacoma Public Works Project Engineer Dan Cederlund reports: “The contractor cannot get a crane until Friday so the move is pushed back 1 day to Friday.”


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 wahmee.com.

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