Warhol Flower for the Tacoma Dome Update

On Tuesday the Economic Development Committee of the Tacoma City Council voted unanimously to move forward a proposal that would give City Council support to a plan to put an enormous flower designed by Andy Warhol on the outside of the Tacoma Dome.

The idea of covering the Tacoma Dome with a giant Andy Warhol-designed flower has been kicking around for decades now - since the original proposal from Warhol himself back in the early 80s when the Dome was brand new. Obviously the flower design wasn't chosen, but more than 30 years on we're seeing a swell of support for the Warhol flower installation.

Last spring the idea took a significant step forward when the City agreed to place a patch of 3M adhesive film on the roof to test the material proposed for the possible installation. They were looking at the material's ability to hold up to the elements, and at its impact on the roof of the Dome.

The test patch of adhesive materials stayed on the Dome for five months, exposed to sun, rain, wind, and other Northwest summer and fall weather. At this week's meeting of the City Council Economic Development Committee, staff reported on what they found. 

The Results

Upon inspection last month, staff found the material of the decal to be in good shape with no rips, peeling, or delaminating of the material. Seams in the adhesive were still in place, and had not let in water. The colors of the TV test pattern faired less well, with darker colors showing dirt and noticeable fading. Lighter colors hid dirt better, but were also faded, and seams were found to be "very dirty." 

Removal of a portion of the test patch showed that the decal came off easily, but also ripped easily, suggesting that removal of the full roof could be quite labor intensive. Removal didn't damage the existing Dome roof, but did leave behind a lightly sticky residue, suggesting that extensive cleaning would likely be necessary for removal of any full-size design. Unknown at this point is how the material would respond to repeated cleanings.

Based on the test patch, staff made a few recommendations. First, that any plan to install the material come with cleanings at regular intervals - probably every six months. Second, staff recommended that removal costs be locked in to any project total as a project cost, rather than a per-hour cost.

Staff also commented on the quality of the existing rubber membrane-clad roof. Although it is past its warantee, it is holding up well. A new roof will likely be requested somewhere between 2022 and 2024. Given that the flower installation would not last indefinitely, and likely won't happen for a few years yet, the replacement of the roof could make for an interesting timeline for installation, and removal.

Next Steps

With approval from the Economic Development Committee, the next step is for the project to gain support from the full Council in the form of a resolution. Supporters of the Warhol flower design will need full support from the City to move forward. Once they have that support, they can approach the Warhol Foundation to request permission to use the Warhol flower image, hopefully without a licensing fee.

If they get support from the City and permission from the foundation, the next step would be to fundraise somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million for the art installation.

The City has made it pretty clear that they won't be paying the estimated $2.2 million installation cost, the $150,000 per cleaning cost, or the cost of removal. That leaves paying for the project up to community supporters. The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation has agreed to step in as the tax-deductible donation receiving entity for the project. With unknowns around the project no significant outreach has been made to major donors yet, and the timeline for fundraising could put funding a couple years out, but supporters seem undaunted by the $3 million ask.


In response to questions about raising that amount for a project that would go away after a few years, Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride described the hype and buzz that would come with the installation of the largest Warhol design, even if only for a limited time. 

"It's about spectacle; it's about taking that risk; it's about branding our community as a cultural community."

So, are you ready to be branded? Are you ready for the spectacle?

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While I have heard that “putting a flower on it” will increase Tacoma’s attractiveness to new businesses and artists, the only thing I can think is what a WASTE it is to use all of this money on redecorating the Tacoma Dome.

Imagine all of the good this money could do to shelter our homeless, or fill our potholes. 1.5 million dollars - we could do so much REAL good in Tacoma!

I challenge every person who is considering donating to this cause to donate an equal or larger amount to charities or nonprofits in Tacoma that are helping people and continually under-funded.

December 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ah, I agree that Tacoma has more than it’s fair share of broken roads, crumbling public buildings, and down and out people, but this is beautiful idea. I like to work on things that make this fair City better and unique. This flower would belong to us and no other city would have it!

December 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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We should use that money and blow up that ugly thing. I’m sorry I just never got the emotional attachment to the dome. Painting it isn’t gonna change the fact that it’s in old ugly hunk of concrete. Makes it worse is that the inside is in poorer shape. Take that money, fix some sidewalks, restore the old street lights and put the rest toward fixing the road by the hospital. Gotta put make car in 4 wheel drive everytime I go by….

December 11, 2014 at 8:01 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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We should use that money and blow up that ugly thing. I’m sorry I just never got the emotional attachment to the dome. Painting it isn’t gonna change the fact that it’s in old ugly hunk of concrete…

Actually, the Tacoma Dome is the largest WOODEN dome structure in the world.

December 15, 2014 at 7:38 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Warhol’s artwork is unique and priceless. I believe the Warhol Flower will boost tourism, grow our economic base and create new jobs for Tacoma which in turn will create funding for Tacoma’s improvements.

December 11, 2014 at 11:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Warhol’s artwork is unique and priceless. I believe the Warhol Flower will boost tourism, grow our economic base and create new jobs for Tacoma which in turn will create funding for Tacoma’s improvements.

Personally, I think the proposed image is quite ugly.  If I didn’t know it was supposed to be a flower, I’d say it looks more like a giant yellow mushroom… maybe it’s supposed to be a psychedelic mushroom?

December 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I gotta think that with a big Warhol flower on the dome, several companies would line up to pay a couple million for the naming rights. “FTD Dome” or “Flowers.com Dome” sounds good, if they cover the installation and cleaning costs. Tacoma then gets the noteriaty and beauty for free.

December 11, 2014 at 10:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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As long as all the money comes from private donors and none comes from the city, I’m cool with this.  The design doesn’t move me, but others seem to be excited by it.  If they want to pony up the money to make it happen, I wouldn’t object.

I have a better idea, though.  Let’s fill in all of our potholes with mosaics.  Functional and artistic.  If you want to fundraise for something this is something I could get behind.


December 12, 2014 at 8:33 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The city should pay for the maintenance as they DO NOW, right?  Let’s not let them off that easy.

December 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Do they? I thought it took an anonymous donor giving half a million for the city to wash the roof last year.
And anyway a colored vinyl surface will require more frequent cleaning, as per the point of the article. That’s the additional cost that the city should not be on the hook for.

December 16, 2014 at 9:10 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The city should pay for the maintenance as they DO NOW, right?  Let’s not let them off that easy.

December 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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What a dumb idea. Wasting people’s money with a promise of increased jobs while we have people in our city who are going hungry every day. Donna has it right. Take care of our citizens first and do the flower thing second.

December 13, 2014 at 5:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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OK then…. that means the T-dome flower project, (along with all other public art) never happens? Because Tacoma will always have more than it’s share of down-out-people and never enough money to provide for them. Homeless are always going to be camping under the freeway off ramps, and I feel a great deal of compassion for them. But they are not art. They are not beauty, They are not Tacoma. (because the homeless live in EVERY city). Have some vision here… feel some pride! Support the T-dome flower!

December 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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There is no way anyone on this forum can justify one penny going to this project, instead of it going to programs that are in desperate need of funding to help human beings.  If you would rather see a flower on a roof instead of helping others, great, no problem at all, it is your choice and your wallet, I am with you it would look great, but just don’t ever try to justify it because it makes you look very ignorant.  How can anyone argue that this is better than helping a human being in need.

December 15, 2014 at 6:52 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Unity is a thing of many degrees. Given the cultural context of Tacoma, placing a Warhol inspired veil over the Tacoma Dome, and the local Walmart, and especially City Hall, would offer a far greater value per dollar risked. The social democrats of Tacoma have distinguished themselves as aesthetes loitering among the gleams in a fading city. Let their passions find their release in the glorification of their temples.

December 16, 2014 at 11:37 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I think the Warhol Flower for Tacoma is a great idea.  Why?  Well, Andy Warhol, especially since his death, has gained notoriety as a unique American artist.  He claims, in his death, the largest museum in the country that only concentrates on one artist.  Think about that.  That means people travel to that museum because they’re big fans - and they also fund it.

What does that mean for this project?  Having the largest Warhol on the planet will not only cause some tourism to Tacoma but it will certainly garner donations to maintain it.  Currently, the dome surface is basically not maintained.  It took a volunteer donor to pay to have it scrubbed down for it’s latest cleaning.  Will that be the case if we put Andy’s flower on it?  No. 

Are there other things that might be a better fit for the dome?  That’s subject to opinion… but this is a great plan.  It makes a bold statement to freeway passers by that Tacoma may not be as gritty as you think.  I look forward to seeing it done.

December 17, 2014 at 8:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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As an artist, I much more appreciate the current local nature-inspired soft mountain color gradation than Warhol’s garish flower… and as an environmentalist, I can’t believe we may be creating miles and tons of plastic which will one day end up in our city landfill.  How ironic we’re considering banning plastic shopping bags but are considering this monstrosity.

December 18, 2014 at 8:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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PS ~ ... and I truly doubt that this will draw people to Tacoma.  It’s not something to be experienced close-up but rather from afar, which is best done via photo… in which case has already been done by photo-shop saving us the cost, effort and eventual garbage, anyway.  Or why not project images on the dome - - changing images per city events, historical dates and (eventually, unavoidably) sponsor advertisements which would be inexpensive to produce, money-generating, non-polluting, and just as effective visually?

December 18, 2014 at 8:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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This was such a neat concept…35 years ago. Move on to a more contemporary artist.

If it does go through, why a sticker? Why not repaint it? Paint’s been on it since new with (?) no leaks or other damage.

Sticker will leave sticky residue that will eventually catch and hold dirt, may otherwise harm roof in some unexpected way, may wear poorly/unevenly, and golly, all that wadded up unrecyclable waste plastic to plug a landfill or set free in the ocean. It must be like, what, 500,000 plastic grocery bags.

December 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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