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Tacoma Convention and Trade Center

November 12, 2004

Plantings, pavers tie center to the street

Nakano Associates


Nakano Associates provided landscape design services for the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. The firm was a subconsultant to Krei Architecture.

Work included several design tasks. One was to develop a design concept for the hardscape around the new convention center that responds to the building architecture. The approach related the building's exterior wall patterning to the sidewalk paving pattern and planting-bed shapes.

Another task was to satisfy the city of Tacoma's street tree requirements and maintain an open façade on the north and east sides of the building.

Echoing the building's window modules and column locations, designers developed a sidewalk paving pattern that consisted of 2-foot-wide black bands at column locations with scored concrete panels between bands. Kwanzan cherry trees were concentrated at the northwest corner of the building site. Angular concrete retaining walls play off the sidewalk paving pattern and mediate the steep grades along the north side of the building.

The planting bed at the southeast corner of the site provides screening of a new surface parking lot and visually connects the nearby Carlton Center with the new convention center. European Hornbeams planted at very close spacing provide visual screening for the parking lot and satisfy the city's street tree requirements. Boston ivy vines planted at the base of a 20-foot-high retaining wall at the rear of the parking lot will eventually soften the look of this wall.

Photo courtesy of Nakano Associates
Newly planted European hornbeams help screen a parking lot at a corner of the site.

Street tree requirements on the west and south sides of the convention center site limited the width of the sidewalks along those site edges. The design solution was to place pre-cast concrete pavers on a sand bed in the street tree pits, creating more walking space for pedestrians.

The theme street tree for the convention center is the Bowhall red maple, chosen for its very columnar form and brilliant red-orange fall color.

A water feature at the northeast corner of the site energizes the center's north entry. The feature is a display of water jets that originate out of concrete pavers located at the bottom of a series of terrace steps. Krei Architecture, in association with Fountain Technology, developed the water feature.

SK Enterprises Landscaping of Tacoma completed the project's landscape installation.

Nakano Associates also provided landscape design for the 3.5-acre Pacific Square Plaza across the street from the convention center, which will be completed in 2005.

Ed Mah is a senior associate at Nakano Associates.

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