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Imagine Tacoma – Renascence Rejuvenations
What has really fueled the Downtown Tacoma Renascence has been the ability to see uses for existing buildings that were beyond their original conception (or even possible imagination at the time of their construction). For instance, could the designers of Union Station envision it someday becoming a new Federal Courthouse (replete with art glass no less). Or the warehouses across Pacific Avenue becoming a university campus (with an old switchgear shed becoming a the center piece library). So while the Elks Building is still in-waiting, imagine a few more opportunities of re-use for your consideration:
With it now slated for demolition, did anyone take a serious look at a structural scaffolding solution? Other parts of the world seem able to preserve their existing buildings in-tact using this method for centuries (sometimes with bamboo scaffolding no less). If the Luzon was able to be ‘cocooned’ in this manner, then it might have a futures as part of a larger development encompassing the entire block from South 13th to the Rainier Pacific Building in order to make is financially ‘pencil.’ And/or maybe it could become a canvas for an international artist team? Christo-alize it!
As noted in a previous post, a natural for the LeMay Museum (quick before it is too late).
Old City Hall
My oh my – the jewel of Tacoma needs to be rescued again (and it all ready has a tree growing out the side of it)!
I know it unfair to already conceive of a re-use of a building that isn’t even finished yet. But at the cost of over $40m – rents for office space will be topping out over $45/sf (while on Pacific Avenue you can currently pay $12/sf). So when there is finally a utility rate-payer revolt, how about relocating the new Science and Math Institute from the portables at Point Defiance Park?
Huge dilemma. The building was designed for a single tenant at a time when Downtown Tacoma was not as well-heeled as it is today (and you have to give Russell their do for locating Downtown at a time that it would have been much more palatable to go to the suburbs). The building was thus designed in a most ‘defensive’ way and it will be difficult (therefore expensive) to ‘rebrand’ the structure into an open and accessible multi-tenanted building (first thought was it would be ideal for a Homeland Security Pacific Northwest Regional HQ). But when you consider all that mirrored glass, the high ceilings, and the depressed level of development in Downtown (with the desire to fill the streets with restaurant and retail patrons) – how about… (wait for it) …a Municipal Grow House. No really.
Let Tacoma take the lead as a municipality and develop a Legal Cannabis District (Tacoma loves its little boutique districts). And since Tacoma is weathering the ‘Great Recession’ so far based on the profitability of providing vital TPU services, why not expand into another commodity that could also be directly beneficial to the quality of life for its citizenry? Hey the State of WA does it with alcohol right? And think of the PR possibilities! Rick Steves will be touting this little bit of Europe in the Pacific Northwest on all his travel shows, Woody Harrelson and (name your own Hollywood star/celebrity here) will be making promos for Tacoma, and the Doobie Brothers can be the warm-up act for a Dave Mathews concert at the T-Dome. Maybe a new institute could be developed (to make the healthcare connection) to study the benefits of cannabis in healing and Washington State’s recently approved Death with Dignity Act. And talk about wanting to make Tacoma a true college town! Maybe we can even get the City into a cameo scene of an upcoming ‘Weeds’ (I will offer my services free of charge to tour Ms. Parker around town if need be). Maybe the Arts Commission could commission Patrick Blanc to create another one of his amazing vertical gardens along the front façade? Add some big ventilation blowers out the East side of the building – and we will have just created a new olfactory experience for taking in the ‘Aroma of Tacoma.’
This post marks the 52nd in the Imagine Tacoma series (a whole years worth no less) – so after a short break, Imagine Tacoma is going to expand the discussion beyond Downtown and start to look at neighborhood and city wide design issues (and of course the occasional kick of Tollefson Plaza when there is nothing better comment on – maybe Christo could wrap it as well?).
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