by Jen Graves
on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM
The dreamy New Mexico-based architect Antoine Predock always intended his silvery Tacoma Art Museum to dissolve into the sky. It worked so well that some people actually had trouble finding the place.
I loved this "problem." TAM was the opposite of the modified-phallic, extroverted Museum of Glass just across the waterway. And they were a pair.
Now, ten years later, Tacoma Art Museum is planning a big, heavy, earth-colored addition for its new Western art wing. Like that whole endeavor, the success or failure will be in the execution. If Western art means cowboys, we're in trouble. If this earthiness turns up drab or imperious, likewise. This will be Tom Kundig's first completed museum. The renderings don't thrill me.
Courtesy Tacoma Art Museum and Tom Kundig
I'm curious about what's going on in the middle area, where there's that screen that extends down to street level. Its back leg will block part of the glorious view out the top floor of TAM. Will it bisect Mount Rainier? Please tell me it will not. Probably that's a dumb question. Nobody would let that happen.
You can also see from the next rendering that the screen section creates a plaza where before there was only longing. Those figures-for-scale almost look like they're enjoying a feeling akin to standing outside at the Kennedy Center in DC, under that overhang with views to the water on one side and the street on the other—know what I mean? (The entrance always was the weakest moment of the building—its interior is a freaking wonder—and that was partly because the original design was "value-engineered" away, meaning they didn't raise enough money to make it happen.) Three cheers for a real entrance.