Building Magazine


Tacoma Art Museum calls for Design Concept

Tacoma Art Museum seeks qualified firms and/or individuals to submit concepts to redesign the museum’s plaza and perimeter to create a landmark civic space that enlivens downtown Tacoma. The budget for this project is up to $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. This initiative comes out of the new Strategic Plan for Tacoma Art Museum. Deadline for submission is June 5, 2009


In December 2008, Tacoma Art Museum’s Board of Trustees approved a new Strategic Plan to guide the museum for the next five years. Building on the success of the new Antoine Predock-designed facility, which opened in May 2003, and 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: 1: 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; 2: Building the Premier Collection of Northwest Art focuses on developing the collection to reflect the rich artistic identity of the Northwest; 3: 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; and 4: Providing Art for Everyone Forever speaks to increasing the museum’s endowment to ensure the vitality of the museum for future generations.


Board President Brett Willis states: “The strategic plan sets an agenda of growth for Tacoma Art Museum. It builds on the museum’s strengths and looks to meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve in the South Puget Sound and beyond.” 


Community conversations confirmed that the visitor experience begins 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 has identified two primary issues that must be addressed: 1: street visibility and the museum’s distinction from Pacific Avenue and I-705; and 2: access and circulation from the parking area into the museum’s lobby. By elegantly and innovatively addressing these two concerns, the successful proposal will enhance the connections between the museum and the diverse communities it serves.


Mr. Willis adds, “I am grateful to the Plaza Redesign Task Force for their thoughtful discussions about the challenges of the plaza and the key elements that require attention. The Task Force reviewed but decided not to move forward with proposals put forth by Mr. Predock’s office. They instead defined an innovative process to generate design solutions.”


The museum created a public online forum at The forum is moderated by Rock Hushka, Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art. This forum will allow questions and perspectives specific to the plaza redesign process and scope to be shared by all potential designers during the submission period.


For complete information about the submission process, ancillary information, site photographs, timeline, and selection process, visit

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