Thursday, May 28, 2015

Help Tacoma design the clock tower at the new Amtrak station

By Barbara LaBoe

We’ve all seen clock towers outside government and public buildings – but how often have you had a chance to help shape their design? Well, here’s your chance.

We’re building a new Amtrak train station in Tacoma. The City of Tacoma and the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the project want you to hear what you think about the three design concepts.

The station is being built in a section of Freighthouse Square adjacent to the existing Sound Transit station. It’s needed because we’re rerouting passenger rail service as part of an $800 million passenger rail improvement program throughout Washington.

The idea for a clock tower was developed after numerous public meetings and sessions with the CAC. They want it to help travelers locate the train station, but more importantly they want it to serve as an iconic landmark for the surrounding Tacoma Dome District.

The city and the CAC want to hear from the public.

The design team has developed three clock tower concepts to help determine the best theme for the final design. One is a modern take on a traveler in motion, another design references the timber train trestles of the past with updated design features, and the third combines a futuristic take with a historical bent for a clock tower that suggests the shape rather than a complete tower.

Now’s your chance to weigh in on the three design concepts. Your input will be used to shape the final design for the station, which will open in 2017.

Check out each design and vote by visiting the station website and linking to an online survey. Comment on the concepts and then pick your favorite. Voting is open until June 8.

Happy voting.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should start over.

Anonymous said...

I like the tuning fork but maybe it should carry a bright digital clock face instead of the traditional hands.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for the feedback, please be sure to take the survey and mention that in the comments for that option.

Anonymous said...

It seams to me that the general concensus of the public is for the esthetic of the sight to reflect it's history. None of those options really reflect any historical element related to the building. When i think of a clock tower from the early 1900s i think of something like the "Water Tower Clock" from Melbourne Australia; maybe a little less Victorian but the concept is the same. Instead of building something that emulates a train station clock tower, maybe it would be appropriate to build an actual train station clock tower.

Anonymous said...

All three proposed designs for Tacoma’s Freight House clock towers are fearsomely ugly and unworkable from an esthetic point of view. Their proportions are all wrong. Whatever design there is should not quarrel with the shape and design of the Freight House Square building and its surrounding physical features. All three designs quarrel with the environment and thus are inappropriate.

The idea of a trestle is more in keeping with the period style of Tacoma and is somewhat less likely to look damn silly and dated 50 years into the future. But if either of the other two are implemented, 10 years into the future, they’ll look dated and cutsie-poo. They lack dignity and don’t reflect well on our community.

All three proposed designs, including the trestle pictured here, are too tall by far and not broad enough. All three look pretentious in the context into which they are placed. None of the designs as presently conceived harmonize with the Freight House environs or the architecture of downtown Tacoma, which is interesting and worth looking at.

To my eye, the proportions of the clock tower should harmonize with its surroundings. The architects should not design a tower in a vacuum but should make the clock tower work in the architectural envelope into which it is placed, as well as the design of downtown Tacoma. It should have charm. These 3 plans lack charm and look as if they were drawn on a blank sheet of paper with no consideration given to anything around them.

I’d advise the designers to imagine they’re landscape artists. They should then paint or photograph the Freight House and other features as viewed from an actual spot, such as the light rail stop or even the 3rd level of the Sounder parking garage, although street level would be better.

After they snap or paint this landscape, they should try to draw a trestle that will fit into the architectural envelop the painting or photo provides.

Moreover, I don’t believe there is any actual location one could stand in and snap a photo that would encompass the whole scene that Washington DOT provides us without having an unnaturally long and skinny photo.. That shows a shocking failure to consider proportion from a design point of view.

I like the 3 clock faces of the trestle. The architects should design a trestle that fits into the landscape picture in a harmonious way. If they do that, they’ll immediately understand the folly of designing a clock tower using any of the proportions pictured in the Washington DOT illustration.

If this clock tower is to become a kind of a landmark, a symbol of Tacoma’s character, it should be visible through a train window along with the section of the Freight House. If any of the present proposals are adopted, the rider would have to get on the floor under a seat across from the window facing it to see the clock tower’s face. Moreover, there’s no spot on which you can stand with a camera and snap a view which resembles the DOT scene they provide!

I challenge the DOT to describe the spot where anyone could stand and snap a photo that would have the details their drawing has. The fact that they can’t do that shows that DOT’s proposals are unworkable from the point of view of an actual observer. To me, that’s somewhat unexpected from professional designers.


Anonymous said...

I hear that Tacoma City Councilman David Boe is an architect. Maybe he can come up with a better idea, or spearhead / oversee a design charrette. The clock tower will form the first impression for visitors to the city, and will be a key travel aid for those rushing to catch their train. It should have a pleasing, lasting and functional design that stands as a monument to the good people of Tacoma.

WSDOT said...

Thank you for your interest, please be sure to take the online survey and comment on the design concepts. Comments will be used to help form the final designs. In addition to the architects working on this project, we continue to work extensively with the city’s Citizen Advisory Committee, which includes several architects.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of any of the three designs. I believe we should have an open competition for the design and let the people help pay for any cost over runs. I am a neighbor and would be happy to chip in to help make this clock tower a cool piece of Tacoma's landscape.

Anonymous said...

The concept should be in keeping with the historic flavor of the freighthouse and old Tacoma warehouse district. None of these fit that vision. Something from early 1900's train station design and materials. Whoever developed the Wash History Museum to harmonize with the Union Station had the right idea. You definately need to start over!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments that none of these designs reflect the Tacoma historic look. If I HAD to pick from the 3 shown, it definitely would NOT be the first one (the traveler). The one based on the trestle bridge appealed more AFTER I read what it was supposed to be...but that's the issue...I had to be told what it represented. I like the more traditional rectangular shape of the ghost one, but seriously...can you imagine how hard that would be to see on overcast or foggy days. Part of the purpose is to help people find the station. I suggest, as others have, that you start over...PLEASE!!! As a starting point you might look at the clock tower at Corban University in Salem, OR. That design would fit with the historic theme of Tacoma. Or make a Tacoma version of the Smith Tower in Seattle. Thank you for asking our opinions! I would like to provide my contact info for WSDOT, but since this is a public site, I'll have to stay anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I went and took the survey. At the end it asked for my zip code. While I don't live in Tacoma, my husband works there and we shop there. I hope that our opinion will still carry some weight, even if not as much as Tacoma residents. Thank you!

WSDOT said...

Thank you for participating! While we asked for zip codes just get a general idea of where our participants live we certainly do take all comments and votes seriously. Thanks again.

WSDOT said...

Thank you, all, for the feedback. If you haven’t already, please make sure to take the survey and include your comments there. We’re taking survey responses through Monday.

Anonymous said...

I think all three designs are ugly, please "try again".

Anonymous said...

These three designs are hideous. Were they designed by the 1st year architecture class at the local community college?

If you want to make it "modern," you could either make it look like a gigantic Apple watch or maybe a cell phone. Most kids today use their cell phone rather than a watch.

How about something that looks like a "fitbit" showing the financial health of Amtrack?

You know that beautiful clock tower on the King Street Station in Seattle? Or those big clocks in Grand Central Station in New York? Maybe you should try looking at those first to see what a real clock tower looks like.

Or you could go "European." Try that Google Image thing for "clock tower."

If all that fails you, you could do a "Chihuly" and make the thing look like a gigantic glass ashtray.

Drew said...

I think they all look great! I don't really understand the ghost clock though. Is it see-through? I would vote for the traveler one. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

I like the"traveler" clock tower

WSDOT comment policy

Post a Comment