TAM selects Seattle firms for Pacific Avenue plaza redesign

The Tacoma Art Museum has selected the team of Seattle-based Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen (OSKA) Architects and Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture to develop plans to redesign the museum’s entrance on Pacific Avenue plaza. OSKA served as architect of record on the museum’s award-winning Antoine Predock-designed 50,000 square foot facility, which opened in 2003.

The team was chosen from a short-list including BCRA; the design team led by E. Cobb Architects, which includes Alchemie and Arup; Johnson Architecture and Planning LLC; Mithun; and NBBJ.

On Oct. 27, the museum’s Board of Trustees accepted the recommendation of the Plaza Redesign Task Force to hire the team.

“The selection of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen is a milestone in our Strategic Plan as we seek to create a gathering space for people, performances, and art,” said Board of Trustees President Janine Terrano. “We envision the new plaza as a place of great civic pride and an asset for the city’s diverse communities.”

The Plaza Redesign Task Force recommended OSKA after nine months of deliberations. The goals for the new plaza were outlined earlier this year in the museum’s “Request for Concept.” Two primary issues were identified: architectural distinction and improved circulation from the museum’s parking area to the front lobby.

The Task Force probed a variety of issues including project approach and integration with the Predock building, funding, budget structures and viability. In late autumn, the Task Force focused on three of the six teams and explored affinities between these firms and the museum. Task Force Chair Steve Barger commented, “It was extremely important for us to identify the team that would offer creative solutions to a complex site. We believe Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen fits well with our vision of the museum and appreciates our role as the community’s living room.”

Museum Director Stephanie A. Stebich added, “Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen impressed us with their firm’s creativity, their respect for and knowledge of our building, and their understanding of our desire to create public spaces that help enliven downtown Tacoma.”

The budget for this project is $3 million, and the concept will address landscape, art and signage elements to increase visibility and to support the museum’s values of civic mindedness and approachability.

The museum will work with the City of Tacoma and neighboring organizations to ensure that the design fits in harmoniously with the area.

This initiative comes out of the new Strategic Plan for Tacoma Art Museum. In December 2008, Tacoma Art Museum’s Board of Trustees approved a new Strategic Plan to guide the museum for the next five years. Preparing for the upcoming 75th anniversary in 2010, the Trustees defined the next stages for the development of the museum.

Four key initiatives were identified:

— “Changing Lives through Seeing, Creating and Exploring Art Together” addresses the museum’s central role in the community to activate creativity through transformational art experiences;

— “Building the Premier Collection of Northwest Art” focuses on developing the collection to reflect the rich artistic identity of the Northwest;

— “Creating a Gathering Space for People, Performances, and Art” addresses the need for a redesign of the museum plaza and perimeter to create a more welcoming entrance;

— “Providing Art for Everyone Forever” speaks to increasing the museum’s endowment to ensure the vitality of the museum for future generations.

Community conversations revealed that the visitor experience is perceived to begin before entering the building. The museum’s Plaza Redesign Task Force, made up of Tacoma Art Museum trustees and knowledgeable community members, began meeting in early January 2009.

The Task Force identified two primary issues that must be addressed:

— Street visibility and the museum’s distinction from Pacific Avenue and I-705;

— Access and circulation from the parking area into the museum’s lobby.

For complete information about the submission process, ancillary information, site photographs, timeline, and selection process, visit http://www.TacomaArtMuseum.org/Plaza .