Imagine Tacoma – Thea Foss Connections II

With the Tall Ships Festival approaching and the comments of Lars Gemzoe’s presentation to the Tacoma City Council about the lack of connection to our waterway still ringing in my ears, Imagine Tacoma project #6 revisits the connection of the Thea Foss Waterway to Pacific Avenue at South 15th Street and Hood Street.

Using the existing infrastructure as a framework, imagine some modifications:

South 15th Street and Pacific Avenue

Remove the vehicular access going East on 15th Street and create a strong pedestrian walkway connection to the Foss Waterway. Possibly modify the end of the 705 Exit with a marker that is representative of the Foss Esplanade Walkway (and add concrete bollards similar to those at the end of the Chihuly Bridge).

An artwork installation under the exit ramp for the Tacoma Gnome? Maybe hire the Jersey Devils to create another ‘Fremont Troll?’ I have heard that the Fire Department wants to keep the South 15th Street access from Pacific Avenue – but with an improved South 14th Street, maintaining access down Hood Street AND the new ‘East D Street Overpass’ nearing completion, the access is there – just not as incredibly convenient (seems I would have a greater concern with the LINK).

Vehicle Circulation
Reinforce South 14th Street at the entrance to the Thea Foss Waterway from I-705 (another marker?) Separate this traffic down ‘Court A’ from the pedestrians with concrete barriers and landscaping.

Connection to the Foss
It this already in the works? There already seems to be a ‘block-out’ for extending the South 15th Street pedestrian route to a stair tower for access direct to the Foss Esplanade Walkway.

Hood Street
Make Hood Street a one-way down from Pacific Avenue until it reaches the TAM parking lot – this will allow for greater separation of the roadway from TAM and allow for a landscaping edge along the building’s facade. There already are great mature street trees – and they are all the same species!

Kinetic Artwork Marker on Pacific Avenue
How about a design commission/competition for a kinetic sculpture that is inspired by the Murray Morgan Bridge, the history of the Thea Foss Waterway, and the TAM. McChesney Architects have created such a sculpture/pavilion in Blackpool that is pure delight. Let’s out Hammer the Hammering Man (and really – doesn’t the Hammering Man really belong in Tacoma?).

Activity Park
Imagine a hardscape Activity Park under the I-705 elevated structures – a mountain bike challenge course and/or skateboard chutes – designed artistically (envision concrete waves) partially covered and could have lighting from above.

Let us make the connections to the Thea Foss Waterway a high and vital priority as the City of Tacoma implements urban design du jour projects.

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Wow! Thanks for the great imagineering work David!

Maybe after we take back the Chihuly Bridge we can tackle this one. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

May 8, 2008 at 4:04 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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David — really great ideas and renderings. I really love these concepts.

I was just down there yesterday thinking how weak the connections are between Pacific Ave and Dock Street. (Am I in your head or are you in mine?)

It would be nice to see a separate bike path also, so that bikers don’t lessen the safety of pedestrians. It would also be nice if the bike path connected to another bike path, something that seems to be rare here in Tacoma.

The area that you have specified for the gnome home is a popular spot for smokers, particularly DaVita employees. It would be good to remember that smokers need a safe and out of the rain spot to congregate that is the legal distance from any buildings. By any chance, is the gnome a smoker?

May 8, 2008 at 4:34 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Chris K.

Wow.  These are great ideas.  I don’t like the kinetic art structure in the photo, but I really like the rendering.

What if we took these to the Foss Redevelopment authority?

May 8, 2008 at 4:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Lots of possibilities for such a large canvas with so many creative possibilites.  I like your ideas.  I do think we’re ready for our own version of the Fremont Troll.  And maybe there’s another Emil Venkov sculpture lying around somewhere to be rescued. This isn’t being very 133/253 of me, but I really like Hammering man, too, and wish it was down here.  Maybe Glassblowing man.  Person.  Nah….

May 8, 2008 at 6:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Erik B.

Very nice.  The connection to the waterfront needs to be revamped badly.  Removing the fence in front of the Bridge of Glass would help too.

May 8, 2008 at 6:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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RR Anderson

<span class=“caps”>ANY</span> <span class=“caps”>ATTEMPT</span> to remove the bottleneck or trust-bust the monopoly on waterfront access away from the <span class=“caps”>WSHM</span> would be a dagger in the heart of our business interests… 

whoa what just happened?  Cool idea! Keep it up!

May 8, 2008 at 7:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Boe for President!

Seriously, I’m just sad to read about all his great ideas and believe, deep down, that Tacoma lacks the gumption to see any to fruition. Where is the visionary leadership from people in position to make these kinds of things happen?

May 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Claudia Riedener

Can we please have David Boe revue <span class=“caps”>ALL</span> downtown improvement plans from the city? No more Rainier Pacific Bank parking garages? No more Tolefson Plazas? No more South Plaza Parking renovations (Virginia creeper or Boston ivy would do a better job).

Please? Please!

May 9, 2008 at 7:33 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

Mr. Boe.  Perhaps your innovative ideas will be easier to implement now that 15th and Pacific has been altered by the runnaway construction vehicle.

Have you photos for the readers that were unable to addend the aftermath?

May 9, 2008 at 7:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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David Boe

Rainier Pacific Building Parking Garage:  To set the record straight, <span class=“caps”>BOE</span> architects designed the Rainier Pacific Building Project.  As the design architect (and I don’t want to sound defensive – but), neither I nor my client wanted to have parking visible along either Pacific Avenue OR Commerce Street.  The original design presented for review for a building permit had retail spaces along both frontages except for the parking entrances at the North end off each street.  This was in violation of the award winning City of Tacoma Destination Downtown Zoning Code that only allowed only a single driveway entrance to a project – with no exceptions or allowances for variances <span class=“caps”>UNLESS</span> a project provided over 200 parking stalls (a caprecious number pulled out of thin air by the then City Traffic Engineer). So it didn’t mattter that ‘common sense’ would allow a driveway access at each street for accessing the site (and allow someplace to put the garbage cans instead of on Pacific Avenue)- we were required to provide 201 parking stalls to allow the project to be permitted by the City of Tacoma – now 201 parking stalls on a site that is less than 100 feet wide is damn difficult (lots of massaging so to speak) – and we only provided the bare minimum 201 for compliance.  We did design the Pacific Avene level to allow for installation of future retail (and another building over the top of the parking garage) – but it is absolutely fair criticism of the project design that it should not have had so much parking along Pacific Avenue – but that was the only way to get it permitted by the City of Tacoma.  Makes you glad we have bureaucracy looking out for good design huh?

May 9, 2008 at 8:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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David, do you feel that the city will loosen up with some of these requirements that seem to be not realistic or beneficial for the downtown developement?  Also, from your end, do you feel that any of these ideas will ever see the light of day given our current leadership in Tacoma?

May 10, 2008 at 3:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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June 8, 2018 at 5:00 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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