Seattle’s most iconic landmark may get an Olson Kundig makeover

Architecture, News, Newsletter, West
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The Space Needle. (Flickr Creative Commons/Curt Smith)

The Space Needle. (Flickr/Curt Smith)

Now over half a century old, there is talk of renovating the Seattle Space Needle. It hosts over one million visitors a year eager to ride the elevator 520 feet up to the observation deck or to dine in the revolving restaurant.

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Olson Kundig Merges Western History and Modern Art

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Olson Kundig's extension to the Tacoma Art Museum comprises a new entrance canopy and a Richlite-clad gallery wing. (Benjamin Benschneider)

Olson Kundig’s extension to the Tacoma Art Museum comprises a new entrance canopy and a Richlite-clad gallery wing. (Benjamin Benschneider)

Richlite-clad museum expansion inspired by industrial context and Old West art collection.

Commissioned to craft an extension to the Antoine Predock–designed Tacoma Art Museum, Olson Kundig Architects sought inspiration in both the history of the site and the art collection itself. Located in the city’s Union Depot/Warehouse historic district, the museum is surrounded by brick buildings formerly dedicated to industry and transportation. “The new addition needed to respond to both the neighborhood context as well as the existing building,” explained design principal Tom Kundig. “It has clean lines that recall the existing structure but recalls more directly the natural, earthy materials found in the neighborhood.” In contrast to the stainless steel-clad original wing, which houses the museum’s modern art collection, the new wing—dedicated to the art of the American West—is wrapped in layers of Richlite sunscreens. “The addition’s use of exterior shutters references symbols of the American West—fences, filtered barn light, and railroad box cars,” said Kundig. “It’s fitting that the Haub Family’s Western American Art collection now sits at the westernmost terminus of the rail line established by President Lincoln.”

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The Final Turn: Architect Tom Kundig Designs a Minimal Funerary Urn

Friday, May 17, 2013
The Final Turn (Kevin Scott)

The Final Turn. (Kevin Scott)

While few items should garner as much respect as those of which hold the memories of our loved ones, high-design has long had an aversion to memorialization. Seattle-based architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects and artist Greg Lundgren hope to change that with their new funerary urn, “The Final Turn,” for Lundgren Monuments. With this object, Kundig brings the rough materiality and crisp design that he has become known for with his acclaimed houses to create a timeless vessel.

“The Final Turn” is composed of two halves of an eight-inch sphere, handcrafted from blackened steel or bronze. The two halves are threaded together, but are noticeably offset when they meet. “While the sphere implies perfection and eternity, the offset nature of the urn is inspired by the people left behind—the people whose lives are thrown off-kilter by the passing of their loved one,” Kundig said in a statement. “The perfect world is no longer perfect for those who remain—something is amiss.” The top half contains a compartment to house mementos, while the bottom half provides a receptacle for remains.

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