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“The building may be the jewel in the crown of the arts-based economic revival of downtown Tacoma.”
– Stephen Dunphy, Seattle Times, February 21, 2003

“The space sings with atrium-style openness and clarity whether outside is beaming sunshine or pouring rain.”
– DK Row, The Oregonian, May 3, 2003

It was a controversial move to bring in world-renowned Albuquerque, New Mexico, architect Antoine Predock to design a new home for Tacoma Art Museum, particularly in a town that values doing business locally. Predock was selected from a list of fellow architects, including Richard Meier, designer of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and Richard Gluckman, designer of the Whitney Museum’s expansion in New York.

Predock saw in Tacoma’s misty, muted light a great opportunity to design a building that almost disappears, much like Mt. Rainier fades and appears depending on the light and weather. The building’s stainless steel skin pays homage to its industrial, port- city surroundings as its silver patina glistens in the Northwest’s watery light.

Predock's vision believed that it was important that the museum maintain its “connection to place.” Accordingly, windows from the galleries and education wing provide views of Mount Rainier, the Thea Foss Waterway, the growing museum district, a thriving University of Washington campus, and the underpinnings of I-705.

The 12,000 square feet of galleries are open and airy, highlighting the works of art on view in eight exhibition spaces. Light spills into the building’s non-gallery spaces from the center courtyard, which features a “stone wave” surrounded by thirty-foot mirrored glass walls. The resulting illusion that the wave continues forever as it reflects in the windows was part of stone artist Richard Rhodes’ vision for his untitled work.

The building itself mirrors Tacoma Art Museum’s commitment to arts education via the 8,046-square-foot Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Foundation Education Wing. The education spaces on the museum’s top floor offers some of the city’s most inspiring views. The Southeast-facing balcony, or “the city’s porch,” as Predock called it, offers a panoramic view of Mount Rainier, Union Station, the 21st Street Bridge, and the many other fruits of downtown Tacoma’s revival.

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Photos by Laura Swimmer - ESTO
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