Idaho students envision new faces for two neighborhoods

Students from the University of Idaho have some bold ideas on how they would change two Tacoma neighborhoods.

This fall, seniors in one of Anne Lawrason Marshall's architecture classes traveled to Tacoma to work on design projects as a component of a studio class. After touring Tacoma, the Lincoln District and Brewery District, an industrial section of downtown just south of the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, were selected for their historic character and potential for urban design and adaptive reuse projects.  

Lawrason Marshall has done similar class projects in Portland and several smaller cities in Oregon and Idaho.

Last year Lawrason Marshall had considered Seattle for this project, until she met Caroline Swope, a local resident and professor of art and architecture, at a conference in June. Swope convinced her to use Tacoma instead.

Next Lawrason Marshall contacted Reuben McKnight, historic preservation officer for the city of Tacoma. He tracked down historic photographs and other information on six Tacoma neighborhoods.

She and her husband spent Labor Day weekend visiting all six then she selected two for the class.

Brewery District intrigued her because of its old brick buildings and historic architecture, and the possibility of linking it to the urban core.

Lincoln District caught her interest with the historic nature of buildings covered behind false façades, businesses owned by Southeast Asian immigrants and area residents with a desire to improve their neighborhood.

She brought students over for days in September to study the neighborhoods. McKnight gave them a tour of the Brewery District, and he and several Lincoln District residents showed them that neighborhood. "This project was a success, in part, because of the contacts and assistance I received from people in Tacoma," Lawrason Marshall said.

Students downloaded aerial pictures of both areas, and held brainstorming sessions in their hotel. They measured dimensions of streets and made observations of the solid and void spaces in the environment.

The students came up with their own design ideas. "I trusted them to take that initiative," she remarked.

While McKnight provided some assistance, he stressed this was not an official city project. However, he did receive copies of the students' designs that he will post at www.tacomaculture.org.

One project that resonated with him is façade improvements to Lincoln District. "That is something that is within control of property owners," he said.  

        McKnight lives in Lincoln District, and feels it has much potential for development. "All the pieces are there. It has much historic character. There is a lot that could be done." McKnight would like to have University of Idaho students return to Tacoma for similar projects. "They had an enjoyable experience. It would be good for the city to have an ongoing relationship with the university."

BREWERY DISTRICT   

Darin Harding, Ben Larsen and Fran Wolstein envision Pacific Landing, a mixed-use project, rising in the parking lot next to the Bryman College building. Harding said it includes a grocery store and an exercise facility, two amenities he feels the area lacks.

A food court on the second floor "will encourage social interaction," Wolstein remarked. Floors three through six would contain apartments, larger ones for families and smaller ones for college students. "We envision a wide mix of incomes living together," she said.

They also included space for a farmers market and a trolley looping around the block.

Desiree Haas and Maura Martin planned a luxury hotel to anchor their Brewery Plaza project at South 25th and Holgate streets. They would like to see glassblowing studios in a nearby old brick building. "I hope this can start conversations on where change can happen in the Brewery District," Lawrason Marshall said.

Heather Sealy and Jeremy Smith want to renovate the building now used as a maintenance shop by the city into Stable Building. Sealy sees three-bedroom apartments, restaurants and possibly a farmers market in what she calls "a historic gem."

LINCOLN DISTRICT

Students sent a survey to Lincoln District residents asking what they would like to see in their neighborhood. The idea for a science center came from one respondent, a parent who suggested it as a safe place for his three children to hang out.

 Kori Arthur, Janelle Forster and Rebekah Ownbey came up with Making Place. The ambitious project includes streetcars, widening sidewalks and adding trees, benches and streetlights to improve the pedestrian environment. It has a new façade for the Vietnamese restaurant Vien Dong. "Everyone enjoys eating at Vien Dong, I understand," Arthur said.

Among the challenges she sees in the area are vacant lots strewn with junk and a lack of parking. Parallel parking should help with the latter, she said.

Hillary Fairfield's project is Lincoln Arts Center. It includes a gallery, two classrooms, studios for artists in residence and a performance hall.

Ty Crossley wants to raze Burger Ranch and build Lincoln Science Center. He thinks the botanical gardens and planetarium would draw 200,000 visitors per year.

Stephen Williams thinks his Lincoln Crossing will be "the crossroads of Lincoln District." He has placed it at South 38th Street and Yakima Avenue, on a parking lot that once had a bakery on the site

He has retail on the first floor as several survey respondents stated they wanted more services. Eight condominiums would occupy the second floor, and apartments would be on the third. "This project aims to restore the lost urban corridor of the area," Williams said.

        Roberto Ayllon Barba designed a four-unit townhouse complex with a courtyard. "This will create social interaction, and a place for kids to play," he commented.

Katie Lessard designed Lincoln Library for the corner of South 38th Street and Park Avenue in a building that formerly housed a bank and a billiards hall. Lessard's library would offer cultural activities and English classes. "I see libraries as multi-purpose facilities," she said.

Kenny Bissegger's Tacoma Mocha Internet Cafe has water features and many windows to allow in light.

It shares a courtyard with Kori Arthur's police substation. Arthur would like to have some retail space in the first floor. The second floor would have a meeting space that could be used by neighborhood councils. "We see this as a place that is a vital part of the neighborhood," she remarked. To view more images, go to tacomaweekly.com.

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