Tacoma Art Museum Extension (Tacoma, Washington State, USA, Competition)

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Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) building was designed from inside.  Antoine Predock’s linear progression through the gallery works very well for the museum interior function.  This linear progression is experienced through a series of circulation ramps culminating at the upper floor balcony viewing Mount Rainier.  The building becomes an expression of the inside and a sculpture on the outside.

The building is sited on a property that is not directly adjacent to its surrounding buildings making it an island within its context.  This condition is very well fit with the exterior expression chosen by Predock to make the building disappear into the grayness of Tacoma sky.  Unfortunately this approach exacerbates it’s disconnect to the city, as if it is an empty lot.

The proposal calls for continuation of interior circulation ramps to the exterior and connect the building to the city by creating a looping circulation system, a mobius strip.  This looping system will integrate visitors’ experience from inside to outside, unite the building with the currently separated storage shed, give the existing historic tree an opportunity to tell it’s meaning, and to engage the city beyond.

This looping system is intended to continue the exterior building design approach; that is to disappear or blend with the sky.  This strategy alone will not improve the plaza. Neither does it appropriate to create a contrast to the building using architectural elements. To give the plaza its soul, other non-architectural elements must be introduced to create visual contrast to attract visitors: nature and arts.  Landscaping and sculptures are proposed to be inserted to the plaza and along the mobius strip, bringing interior experience out.

The objective of this design is to enhance the museum design and enliven its public spaces.  It is not intended to overpower or compete with Predock’s design.  It lets nature and arts to shine on the canvas of TAM’s site the same as the interior of the building does so well already.



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