Imagine Tacoma – Prairie TAM Companion

The City of Tacoma’s recent consideration of a deal with BNSF regarding the donation of a portion of the Prairie Line to the City for creating a pedestrian and non-motorized trail through Downtown sparked this week’s Imagine Tacoma. It looks at how this development might be combined with the recent recommendations from Lars Gemzoe on urban design improvements to Tollefson Plaza (and also allows the revisiting of Imagine Tacoma Foss Connections II) – and giving TAM an urban overlay update while in the neighborhood.

Shift Hood Street
Rather than build a new trail along the North side of Hood Street, imagine shifting and narrowing Hood Street so that a wide unobstructed direct promenade is created from Pacific Avenue down to the Foss Waterway Esplanade along the façade of the Tacoma Art Museum (and allow for a linear sculpture park to be created?).

Narrow Hood Street
Hood Street is made a one-way from Pacific Avenue down to the TAM parking lot access thus reducing the traffic congestion at Pacific Avenue (and providing even greater clarity for connecting to the Foss Waterway).

Enviro Hood Street
This new street and promenade can be designed using low-impact storm water standards (e.g. pervious payment) as a show piece of the sustainable green vision of the City (“lookie here Martha, these Tacoma folks actually walk the preach”).

Urbanize TAM
While the Tacoma Art Museum has the City’s premier contemporary architectural interior and was a fantastic creative use of a challenging site, it does miss having a strong urban connection to Pacific Avenue (which is partly explained by the design predating much of the ‘improvements’ to its immediate surroundings – bLINK, Convention Center, Marriott, and Tollefson Plaza – and with no actual Master Plan by the City that would envision future uses how could this result be fully incorporated – thus the design of TAM was in some ways more defensive than offensive). So with greatest respect:

  1. De-Darth the Windows: Replace the glazing with less intensive shading (it always looks closed from the exterior – even at night?).
  2. Swap Gift Store and Café: Should the back sides of gift shop shelves be against the front window wall of the museum? How about putting the Café front and center? Carr’e d’art the entry so to speak.
  3. Bris-soleil Me: Extend the roof to create a covered area for the café to spill-out onto the plaza. The original ‘sail’ canopy design was sublime – maybe Mr. P could give it an entry refresher?


So when the new Prairie Line Trail is developed, how about imagining it as an integral element to provide a direct unobstructed sustainable promenade connection from Tollefson Plaza to the Thea Foss Waterway while providing TAM with a even greater urban edge?

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RR Anderson

Mr. Boe, I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down.

the <span class=“caps”>TAM</span> really needs to come in from the cold.  This would help.

also please explore these interesting self publishing options  …Imagine Tacoma as a coffee table book!

June 19, 2008 at 5:28 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Wow, you just designed something I would have never thought possible! This is a fantastic vision for the new trail, and I would be all for formalizing this into a couter-proposal to what is currently planed.


June 19, 2008 at 5:32 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I think this is a great idea.

June 19, 2008 at 6:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I vote for David! (when are you running?)

June 20, 2008 at 2:52 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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If this trail goes where I think it does, why not a commuter rail (<span class=“caps”>DMU</span>)on the current tracks (are they still there?) with a fence and a walking/jogging path currently planned there as well.  Basically, a streetcar from South Tacoma, to the mall, to <span class=“caps”>UWT</span>, to Foss.  That’s the trail right?  And it even transverses with <span class=“caps”>LINK</span> at <span class=“caps”>TAM</span>.  I’m a little scetchy on all this but check out <span class=“caps”>DMU</span>’s at . They run on freight train tracks and are fairly inexpensive, gritty but polished, and unique. Pretty cool!

June 21, 2008 at 2:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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