Vote on the New Tacoma Amtrak Station Clocktower

WSDOT is looking for public input on proposed designs for a clocktower at the new Amtrak Station that will be located at Freighthouse Square.

Following the generally negative response to the initial design for the station (see Amshack), WSDOT has been working with a Citizen Advisory Committee on new designs. The station has been relocated from the original location at the west end of Freighthouse Square to the center section, and a new, more popular design includes floor-to-ceiling windows with a wood beam interior. The new Tacoma Amtrak station is scheduled to be open and serving passengers in 2017.

The Advisory Committee has also recommended a clocktower be added to the design, which they believe would be an iconic addition to the Tacoma landscape. The proposal is for the tower to be located on 25th Street, in front of the station, and across from the commuter parking garage. It would stand 80 to 90 feet tall. Three design concepts have been proposed, which is where you come in - WSDOT wants public feedback on the preferred tower design from the three in the images above.

The Traveler
This concept draws inspiration from the form of a person walking down the street. The reference to movement and travel provides the suggestion of animation to the structure. This concept would have two support footings at ground level and a clock face on two sides.

Trestle Clock
This concept reflects a historic railroad trestle, common throughout the country.  At the same time, modern design elements have been added to the tower to give it a timeless feel. This clocktower concept has three support footings at ground level and three clock faces.

Ghost Clock 
This design combines art and function by creating a tower-like structure that evokes the traditional form of ‘clock tower’, using materials of varying transparency to create a “there but not there” feeling. The support footing for this concept would be square or rectangular at ground level. It also would have two clock faces.

Visit the station page to view the design concepts and vote on your favorite by June 8. 

So, which design do you prefer? 

Previous Tacoma Amtrak station coverage from Exit133 here.

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With all the technology of today, do we really need a clocktower?  How about we spend that money on making Amtrak safer.  Amtrak does not need art, it needs better safety mechanisms.  We just lost people to this company’s lack of safety measures and you propose we pick which clocktower is better?  What goes through your mind dude?  This just happened, who cares about a clocktower.

May 27, 2015 at 9:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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WSDOT has at least $800million worth of passenger rail projects currently underway in this state. The majority of those projects include improvements to the safety of the tracks or train sets. If you want to read about some of them you can start here

May 27, 2015 at 1:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Could you physically look at the family members of the people lost to that horrible train accident and ask them to pick which clocktower looks better.  The answer is probably no.  Show some respect while the country is still mourning the loss of these people.  Every bit of money counts towards safety improvements, even the amount that clocktower costs can be applied towards safety on top of the $800 million.

May 27, 2015 at 2:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I would never bring it up in the extremely unlikely hypothetical where I was face to face with someone who lost a loved in that train crash on the East Coast. That would be extremely insensitive. As far as I’m aware no one in Philadelphia is keeping tabs on the architectural review of every Amtrak project in the nation, nor have any of them called for a halt to all planned Amtrak projects years into the design process that are not explicitly related to safety improvements that I’m aware of.

I also wouldn’t stop an airport terminal improvement project that has been in planning and design for years, just because Malaysian Airlines lost a plane. The events are completely unrelated. When the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007 killing 13 people, did you hear people call for all highway rest stop construction to halt?

A tragic event occurred. But it has absolutely nothing to do with a public survey about our preferences for the design elements of a new train station in Tacoma.

May 27, 2015 at 5:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Dear godlings, do we really want a pair of giant tweezers with a clock on top?  That’s what both of the first two designs look like to me.

Not overly excited about the ghost clock, either, but anything’s better than the first two.

May 27, 2015 at 1:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I like the first one quite a bit.  All three are better than I thought they’d be…well done.

May 27, 2015 at 2:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I like the first one…. but they’re all good. And Yes! A train station needs a clock.

Also…. riding the train to Seattle or Portland is way, way safer than driving! and better the the planet as well.

May 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Traveler looks more sophisticated.  Other 2 look so common.

May 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Ghost Clock is far from common.  I like that one and the Traveler pretty well.  But I’m putting with the the Ghost Clock. Go Ghost Clock!

May 27, 2015 at 5:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The trestle reminds me more of a high voltage power line tower than a railroad timber structure. I prefer the ghost clock. I don’t think the renderings capture what it would look like in 3D. It is the most unique. I would be happy with the Traveler design too.

May 27, 2015 at 5:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I hate sounding like a curmudgeon but, to me, this is a very strange project and a waste of money. Typically, train station and civic clock towers are located in public squares or at least at important intersections. This clock tower is mid-block and across the street from the park-and-ride. As a frequent Sounder rider, it makes me feel like I’ve really arrived… like in Auburn or something.

You can’t manufacture historic significance. The new train station doesn’t have it and no postmodern schmaltz historic symbol is going to create it. I wish they’d put the money into making the Amtrak station better rather than trying to give civic status to a rather insignificant mid block location, across the street from much taller parking garages. Really?! A clock tower dwarfed by the adjacent parking garages?

Our fair city has a long history of bad public art (if this even qualifies) - thinking of a totem pole, most likely not carved by authentic native carvers, that’s rotting in a nearby park. In a hundred years we’ll be fighting to preserve this clock tower as a monument to the poor taste of civic activists passed.

I vote for #1 and hope it walks away, maybe just down to Tollefsen Plaza?

May 27, 2015 at 8:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Is it too late to revise the design of the whole Amtrak Station to make it look like a traditional cuckoo clock?

May 28, 2015 at 9:08 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Mary kubi

Why so tall? Will anyone be able to read the time that far up. I don’t like any of them.

May 28, 2015 at 11:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Hmm I’m not a big fan of any of these designs without something more.  I know this part of the project is on a shoestring budget but is there anything that can be similarly incorporated as far as a marquee or name of the station that could appear on said clocktower?  I look to the Portland Union Station and while I don’t expect brick and mortar, the signage is nice and creates a functional awareness of the location.  Maybe something similar on the Trestle design?

May 28, 2015 at 1:48 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Sorta why the ghost design is the only one that makes sense in context of the rest of the structure.

May 28, 2015 at 3:04 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Add some magic to the ghost clock by having neon tubing inside the structure—tubes that change color per a computer program and that tastefully attract attention, illuminating the metal structure in silouette.  Red neon tubes by artist Stephen Antonakos crown the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s front facade while there seems to now be appreciation that same artist’s once-controversial Neons for the Tacoma Dome.  The clockower is meant to serve as a locator beacon for Amtrak in Tacoma; a neon sign atop a clocktower certainly draws attention to Portland Uion Station.  Even Dale Chihuly put neon tubes into balls of ice on the ice rink surface during his black-out art display at the Tacoma Dome about twenty-plus years ago that demonstrated the public’s interest in the bright colors of art, heralding plans for the Museum of Glass.

May 28, 2015 at 3:04 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Once took Amtrak from Santa Barbara to Tacoma. 10+ hours late. Why? Freight traffic has priority.

A sundial would be more appropriate.

Kidding aside, now is the time to ask for contemporary artist input a la Tacoma Dome roof 35 years ago. A 90 foot tall canvas to work with? How cool is that? It could be whimsical, it could be colorful, it could be historic, it could be kinetic, it could be just about anything.

Or maybe a tall, multi-sided LED canvas. Off the shelf panels are more affordable than ever. The tower art shown could change regularly, making for increased community input and more local artist support. It could also incorporate timely messages, like TRAIN RUNNING 10 HOURS LATE or WE LOVE TACOMA or GOOD LUCK AT STATE TRACK FINALS LINCOLN HIGH or THE TIME IS 10:23 or whatever. Such a wall would have the capability to show video, expanding the artistic possibilities.

Point is, for the $ this could be a much more creative opportunity than putting a fixed Seth Thomas clock atop a giant clothespin.

May 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Fiddling while Rome burns, just keep the bread and circuses coming and the frogs still won’t notice that the heat is getting close to critical until they are cooked

May 30, 2015 at 5:00 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There are already a lot of clock towers in town and to make any of these three designs really pop, they’d need scads more money.  I say put a cool clock inside the waiting area and use the excess money that would have been used on the tower for a really cool retro neon sign outside the building.  Perhaps just for Amtrak or a redux of the Freighthouse Square sign with “Amtrak and Sounder at Freighthouse Square.”  I don’t know, as far as signage, there are a lot more creative people than me but I know I’ve seen some amazing art in the form of nein signs before.

May 30, 2015 at 7:09 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Of the three clock concepts, I choose the Ghost Clock. I think it’s a splendid combination of tradition and innovation.

I’ve been following the writings in popular science magazines regarding the post World War II evolution of hologram technology.

A hologram “Ghost Clock” projected beside the Amtrak Station would likely receive worldwide praise.

June 1, 2015 at 11:42 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Given our strong industrial past, maybe we should be thinking of something like Seattle’s ‘Hammering Man’ sculpture outside of SAM, as something that would reflect our gritty down to earth past, or, maybe another, but possibly larger NW Native American piece like the wonderful ‘Welcoming Woman’ carved pole on the knoll behind Tollifson Plaza?

June 2, 2015 at 10:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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June 8, 2018 at 11:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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