KFnet in T-Town

Aug. 28, 2009 at 8:59am

Photos ~ Center for Urban Waters Construction

"So, what the heck is this?" you might as while out at the Maritime Fest this weekend. Well, it's visible progress on Tacoma's new Urban Waters facility on the east side of the Foss Waterway. The facility will be mighty impressive with a new 100' dock for research vessels, a green roof, a rain garden, gray water recycling, and even small scale geothermal all aiming toward LEED Platinum certification. Here's a map of where it's at and what it should look like:

Visit cityoftacoma.org/urbanwaters for much more info on this exciting development!

comments [35]  |  posted under construction, development, foss, industry, tacoma, tideflats, urban waters


by Nick on 8/28/2009 @ 9:08am
I tried walking the pup around that park under the bridge and up the promenade - I can't believe I didn't notice this yesterday! So will there be public access in any form for this?

by tacoma1 on 8/28/2009 @ 9:25am
Wierd...............scientist's and academics working in Tacoma. Who woulda thunk?

If we build it, they will come. This will bring us some much needed economic and intellectual diversity to T town. Not to mention an important research faciltity.

Seattle doesn't have no super green, aiming towards platinum Leed certified facility. Well maybe they do, but we got are own on the way, so there.

by Lorna on 8/28/2009 @ 9:58am
@ Nick -- "So will there be public access in any form for this?"

Yes, although I don't know the specifics yet. Here's what I think you can expect: On the exterior, the esplanade will continue along in front of the building, and there'll be interpretive signage to highlight the LEED features. Inside there'll be additional interpretive signage, perhaps some educational / meeting / conference opportunities, and tours will be available. -- Lorna Sutton, City of Tacoma Community Relations

by fredo on 8/28/2009 @ 10:46am
I hope it gets more use than the City Council's last big blunder: the Tacoma Convention Center.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/28/2009 @ 11:19am
Being offices & Research, staffed by the City and the UW, I figure it'll be quite full of folks from 9-5, 5 days a week.

As for the Convention Center... well, that's a whole few threads in and of itself, no?

by Urban E on 8/28/2009 @ 1:13pm
Fredo, I doubt it because they forgot to consider parking. Now they're talking about having to shuttle people in and a portion of the crews that are relocating don't want to go because their city and personal vehicles won't fit. Nice huh. A big green waste of $!

by tacoma1 on 8/28/2009 @ 2:16pm
I doubt that they forgot about parking, being a platinum LEED building, an acre of parking wouldn't be appropriate. Not to mention that all of that parking would add to the cost even if the space was available. I'm sick and tired of paying for people to park for "free". If government employees or any employee of any company wants "free" parking, they can pay for it themselves.

People can learn to walk, or ride a bike, or even take a shuttle. It won't kill them. Might even be a healthier way to travel.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/28/2009 @ 2:39pm
Fix the Murray Morgan and have the #60 go over it like it used to... voila, transportation problem solved.

by tacoma1 on 8/28/2009 @ 3:32pm
We do need the access that ol' Murray Morgan provided. No doubt about that.

by KevinFreitas on 8/28/2009 @ 3:42pm
@tacoma1 re: "People can learn to walk, or ride a bike, or even take a shuttle. It won't kill them. Might even be a healthier way to travel." Amen!

@Thorax re: "Fix the Murray Morgan..." Amen again!

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/28/2009 @ 3:59pm
What's more "sustainable" and "green" than fixing your current infrastructure?

The MM is electric-powered. If we slapped solar panels all over it, we could have a LEED bridge. Or if we installed wind turbines on that topmost beam or installed tidal power generators.... or all 3? Install enough "green cred" stuff, and the monies needed just seem to magically appear from Olympia and the other Washington.

by Urban E on 8/30/2009 @ 9:51am
Tacoma1, you need to check it out for yourself. There are only about 45 parking spaces and the employees are being told that they will not be able to drive their personal cars to the facility. The parking situation has nothing to do with the LEED cert. They just crammed the building on to small of a lot.

by fredo on 8/30/2009 @ 11:02am
What was the cost per square foot of this LEED building and how much extra per square did LEED certs add to the construction? And how many years will it take for LEED energy savings to cover the difference between LEED and conventional construction costs?

by Urban E on 8/30/2009 @ 12:00pm
What was supposed to be just be a lab now will house city engineers and others leaving perfectly good city owned buildings vacant and now they don't have enough parking. So how much is this gonna cost us to shuttle employees to their work site. And another thing I don't like my taxes being wasted to teach people to walk,ride,skip or hop. This was a pat yourself on the back project that cost 40 million bucks and mean while my suspension on my car is being torn up daily, South Tac is full of tweekers, and gangs are taking over the eastside.

by tacoma1 on 8/30/2009 @ 12:43pm
@Urban E
You misquoted or misread me. I wrote that spending money on parking wouldn't be inappropriate. That means (according to Merriam Webster) that it wouldn't be suitable or fitting. I never said that it was required or part of the LEED cert.

Personally, I would much rather spend money on efficient buildings and a transportation network that runs on electricity than build more parking lots. Parking lots aren't free, take up lots of space, and don't add to our economy, they draw from it.

The building is obviously crammed on a small lot. That's a good use of space, not a waste of tax payers dollars. Thats called conservation. It's actually a conservative principle not to waste money on unneccesary things. Why would you want to pay for a parking lot anyway? Do you really want to pay more for our public buildings? I certainly don't.

Your argument about teaching people to walk, skip, etc. is just plan stupid, and your car (along with everyone else's car in the city) is causing over 50 % of the air pollution in our city. Get your lazy butt out of the car, stop polluting my air, and get some exercise.

by Urban E on 8/31/2009 @ 7:32am
Tacoma1, personally I like having my car to take myself and kids to our many activities and I definitely pay my share of taxes for that benefit. It also seems contradictory for the city to study wage compensation to keep employess and then make decisions that will ultimately cost those same employess or even myself more money in the end through other transportion/parking issues. This was poorly planned and so your argument about paying for parking doesn't hold water with me.
Personally I like to look a little farther ahead when I'm spending my cash.

by boearc on 8/31/2009 @ 10:15am
Ah - but it will make a great upgrade in the future for use by SAMI (Science and Math Institute) - and then parking won't be a problem.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/31/2009 @ 12:57pm
Dig the roof of the tank in the upper right of tank farm...
Peace out, man.

by tacoma1 on 8/31/2009 @ 4:00pm
I think it might be a little early for people to declare this building a failure..........could we at least wait till opening day to do that? I'm willing to bet that if workers need to get to this building to earn a paycheck, that they will somehow figure out how to do so without a car.

Great cities tend to be evaluated by their culture, food, art, architecture, crime rates, and great public transportation. No one ever raves about the abundance of parking lots in the world's greatest cities. I know that I don't have any photos of the Parisian parking lots.

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/31/2009 @ 4:10pm
Oh, the cities where you live, the cities where you live!
Your hard earned pay and time, you will give.

Your taxes pay for roads and for parks
and for streetlights to keep out the dark.

But sometimes city council schemes up an awful plan
to make your downtown as ugly as they can

They tear down buildings, leaving empty spaces
thinking that ample parking makes memorable places.

They make absurd regulations and strange codes
keeping new development from taking hold.

They don't understand, they think they know more,
than the millennia of good planning that has come before.

They give cars and trucks all the streets
forgetting those who like it on their feet.

What can be done to undo all this mess?
The council does not know, they can just guess.

But you, yes you! You can do things to get work done,
make a difference for the children yet to come!

You can remember to vote, you can do something grand
for the city you live in, and all of it's land.

For you see, Too many parking lots and not enough trees
is the sign of a rotting, urban disease.

(A passage from the forthcoming children's' book "What's wrong with my city?" By Dr. O'Tool)

by L.S.Erhardt on 8/31/2009 @ 5:35pm
Hmmm... that turned out better than I thought.

by tacoma1 on 8/31/2009 @ 6:45pm
Nice work. I like that a lot.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/1/2009 @ 2:20am
Thanks, T-town1. I think I'll do some rewording on it.
Maybe it's because it's 2:30 am and my body thinks I'm still on night shift, but suddenly I think illustrating that story in Seuss-Style is a really good idea.

by KevinFreitas on 9/1/2009 @ 6:48am
Well done T'OT! I think you might have something there.

I think it is pretty unfair to criticize a place that's a) not yet open and b) striving to be just about as sustainable as it gets. I've often thought employers may need to start taking cost cutting measures by encouraging employees do other than take their cars to work every day. Help pay for bus/train passes, offer up a company car or two, bike racks, etc. In any kind of urban setting it seems pretty unreasonable for employees to expect they'll always have a parking spot to call their own when space is a premium. Let's stop subsidizing this sort of behavior and start incentivizing the numerous other ways we can get to and from work.

by boearc on 9/1/2009 @ 8:01am
Kevin, I will have to respectfully disagree with you statement "I think it is pretty unfair to criticize a place that's a) not yet open and b) striving to be just about as sustainable as it gets." So that begs the question of when one does criticize any idea? Only after it is built and functioning? Or not functioning? It is the lack of constructive criticism and discusion of ideas that has been lacking in the evolution of the urban construction/deconstruction of Tacoma these past 50+ years. Too long this City has operated in a 'build it and they will come' mentality (from elevated parking garages to convention center). Was there discussion and criticism of Pierce County when the idea of demolitioning two whole blocks of Pacific Avenue to build the new City/County Building in the 80's? - or was it better to wait and see how that project turned out - and now lament the resultant destruction of the Luzon. We need to hold ideas accountable before they are designed and built (or building demolished) - and not continue afterwards to figure-out a way to make them work (ala Tollefson Plaza).

And as far as sustainability goes, the #1 issue is to select a site that is connected conveniently to mass transit (not build on a default site that the City ended-up buying due to guilt over the politics around the Cohen project). I guess it is great that staff of the city are going to be housed in a building that costs over $750/sf - but at that cost they all better be required to bike or walk to work (rain or shine).

by KevinFreitas on 9/1/2009 @ 10:24am
@boearc: Yeah, blanket statement. I think in this case since the plans are already set and it's going up there's no much chance to effect much change in the project. So, imho, it'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. When it comes to other developments around town, I hope the City and any developer is always open and forthcoming with our community so we can all work out what's best for all involved.

by tacoma1 on 9/1/2009 @ 11:08am
A couple points if I may.

My job is in Seattle. I personally take the train as often as I can, and walk the mile to my office. My coworkers always drive and pay $250 a month to park. Then they walk half a mile from the parking garage to the office........... The point to this is: if you walk across Murray Morgan, and over to the Urban Waters site, it's near as I can figure, only about a half a mile. WTF is wrong with people in Tacoma that makes us bitch so much about walking under a mile? People do this every day in every city in the country!

"as sustainability goes, the #1 issue is to select a site that is connected conveniently to mass transit"

As we (the City of Tacoma, that is) haven't built our mass transit system yet, it's gotta be hard to build around something that doesn't exist. Of course, if we can ever design a mass transit system, we could do some actual TOD planning. I'd be for that too.

by NSHDscott on 9/1/2009 @ 11:53am
But where would they park on the city side of the Murray Morgan to be able to walk across it to work?

by tacoma1 on 9/1/2009 @ 12:07pm
Where would they park? Free at Freight House Square - take the free link, get off at the end, and walk, this actually gets you a full mile walk, or take the bus downtown from your residence and leave the friggin car at home. If that's too much trouble, there is pay parking downtown at 10th and commerce.

by Urban E on 9/1/2009 @ 1:58pm
So what happens if my kid gets sick or my elderly mom takes a fall? You gonna come pick me up? This project was supposed to be built on property at the city dump (where there is actually a bus line) until as Mr. Boe pointed out some people needed to save face. Great idea, wrong location, and poorly planned. But hey in 30yrs when the lease runs out we'll own it.

by tacoma1 on 9/1/2009 @ 2:12pm
I am not financially responsible to assure every city worker in Tacoma a free parking spot 10 feet from their office.

If Grandma takes a tumble, call 911. If the kid gets sick at school, call a friggin cab or hop on the shuttle to the parking lot. Then jump in your H2 Hummer and get to the hospital.....any more problems I can solve for you?

by NSHDscott on 9/1/2009 @ 2:48pm
I don't see how land near the city dump is a more suitable place to build an urban waters research lab than on the urban waterfront.

Didn't mean to pick on you (this time), tacoma1, I was just curious how people would get to the Murray Morgan so that they could walk across it to their jobs at Urban Waters. I totally agree with your last comments.

And here's a new idea: How about a boat shuttle? Let's say from the Museum of Glass to Urban Waters. People could park at Freighthouse Square, take the Link to the museum stop, walk across the Bridge of Glass and down the too-shallow steps of MOG, and hop on a floating platform with motor to ride down and across the waterway to work. It's an involved commute, but kind of fun!

by tacoma1 on 9/1/2009 @ 3:06pm
Thanks for agreeing with me this one time. I won't get used to it, I promise.

In reality, Murray Morgan needs to get fixed - at the minimum to provide transit service and pedestrian access to the tide flats.

by Nick on 9/1/2009 @ 3:07pm
"So what happens if my kid gets sick or my elderly mom takes a fall? You gonna come pick me up?"

In general, my response would be that you should suffer the consequences of choosing to live and/or work in a location that would create this problem in the first place. Structuring a lifestyle that requires an SOV (single-occupancy vehicle) to address basic needs is a systemic problem across the country. By continuing to subsidize this model, we are just encouraging this problem to grow, making its eventual failure that much more catastrophic.

That being said, I'd say locating a facility inaccessible by *any* reasonable means of transportation is probably not a good idea. Not sure where this project sits in that context, but if it's not bus-friendly, rail-friendly, or even car-friendly (meaning little to no parking), that's one heck of an obstacle for drawing people in.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/1/2009 @ 3:28pm
The Murray Morgan is supposedly being fixed. As my understanding goes, they are currently having new cables fabricated. They don't exactly carry cables for a 100 year-old drawbridge at Home Depot.
For anyone who doesn't work in the port, remember that the #60 used to go over the MM. Even though Pierce Transit have been giant bone heads in scaling service to the Port down to nothing (I used to take the #65 daily to the door factory, but I can't bus to the refinery thanks to the schedule cuts), I'm sure PT would resurrect a route to go close to Urban Waters. PT knows where it's bread is buttered.

But even then, it's not like there will be no parking. The bosses and their bosses will of course get parking on site. I mean, priorities, right?


Although I have another home on the web I thought it might be nice to lead by example a bit and put this blog system up to the test myself.

So far, so good... Funny how I build web tools for other people that are far better than the one's I have setup over on KFnet.


Hey Clear Channel, Clean Up Your Crap!

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