Foss Waterway Seaport

Location Tacoma, Washington
Design Principal Jim Olson
Design Collaborator Alan Maskin

The Foss Waterway Seaport occupies the last remaining section of Balfour Dock—a once nearly mile-long, continuous heavy timber frame warehouse that defined Tacoma’s waterfront for almost a century. Built in 1900, the remaining 350 foot-long portion straddles the shoreline immediately beneath Tacoma’s downtown. Originally designed and built in the bridge-building language of nineteenth century railroad engineering, this remaining portion now supports the largest maritime heritage and education center on the West Coast.

The architectural design concept brings out the intrinsic beauty of the building and the boats it houses. The structure of the building is like a heroic sculpture. Like many of the boats, the building is a real community treasure.

Jim Olson Design Principal

The new 40,000 square foot public facility features indoor program spaces, docks and floats for recreational and educational boating, and public open spaces for events, festivals and casual activities. The improvements make the Seaport the centerpiece of the adaptive reuse and rehabilitation is a new glass-faced north façade, which reveals the 150-foot-long historic trusses. The glazed facade acts as a beacon to passing visitors to connect with the site’s past by revealing the historic architecture and the activities within.

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