October 03, 2007

Earlier in the Quotidian

My brother lives in Washington near Gig Harbor. He called all of his siblings up to his house on the Key Peninsula for a weekend in August.

We went to Tacoma to see the Museum of Glass, centerpiece of the new downtown in Tacoma.

a conic section of the Museum of Glass in Tacoma

The Museum features an enormous breast-or-tilted-teepee-shaped cone of metal reminiscent of Tacoma's earlier use for its waterfront, as suggested by this image by Michael Hamilton.

Chihuly Bridge of Glass

The cone and the grounds around it and the attached Chihuly Brige of Glass command a vast amount of space along the Thea Foss Waterway just across from downtown, the Museum grounds connected to downtown just there by that bridge, the Museum grounds delivered to downtown by a wide stair winding around the base of the prominent cone of the museum and up to the bridge of glass and over the intersecting wide corridor of interstate highway and rail that sluices through the town there just like a river separating the two districts, nicely joined again by that happily placed bridge.

The Museum of Glass from across the way

Inside the cone of the museum of glass the girders are visible. I have no idea what kind of metal is being used here. It could be alumino-titanium for all I know. Holds up quite well, whatever it is.

a view of the exposed ceiling of the Museum of Glass

Here's what it looks like under the cone in the workspace where the glass is being made:

The glass works at the Museum of Glass

The one in the yellow shirt is leading the team. In the back you can see another similar glass being tended to while the torches get taken to the one fresh out of the oven.

Eventually the whole bunch of them attempt to join the two parts together:

working glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma

The Museum shows how art glass is made (the work's progress can be followed from seats in the balcony above the workspace). The Museum shows off, too, some outcomes of all this glass making artistry with a modest number of items on display in its exhibit wing.

The untitled styrofoam cups of Chris Taylor (2005) update the Ballantine beer cans observed by Jasper Johns (1960) by thoroughly modernizing the material being observed. Here's the ubiquitous styrofoam cup, now, observed in art glass form, superceding the ubiquitous rolled sheet metal container of the commercially available stuff made by Ballantine and sold as beer commemorated in the painted bronze of Johns.

The two cups are curiously joined, as I see it.

on display at the Museum of Glass

The expanse taken up by the grounds of the Museum of Glass seems depopulated for a public space. Maybe this will change when the nearby inbuilding of urban apartment spaces is complete and the natural inclination to go somewhere nearby is established in the new residents of downtown Tacoma as they begin to flesh out the uses for such a space in their new city.

As yet the downtown neighborhood isn't densly populated enough to require quite so much space to spread out in, or renowned enough to make many travelers go to Tacoma on purpose and clog the place up on their own.

From the Chihuly Bridge of Glass it's just a short jog across the main street there downtown to stairs leading further up the hill and onto the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma, connecting the campus with the waterway by this broad pedestrian pathway, a pathway intersected on the main street by the trolley line running through downtown. This is a good and thoughtful design for an urban core minus the few hundred thousand people whose activities could easily be provided for in the space made available for them in Tacoma.

There are certainly enough people innately indifferent to weather to populate such an agreeable space as downtown Tacoma is now, now that the viscous air of the pulp mills of decades past has dissipated. Downtown Tacoma is a habitable enough space for those inclined at all towards urban living, always allowing for the inherent sogginess of the place.

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