LeMay – American Cars Museum

LeMay America’s Car Museum maintains over 3,000 cars in its collection making it one of the largest automobile museums in the world.  Close to a decade ago, the Museum’s board of directors initiated a process to consolidate the entire collection at one location.  The project site, adjacent to the Tacoma Dome, was donated by the city of Tacoma for the sole purpose of building the LeMay Museum.  Completed June of 2012, this museum represents the first phase of a multi-phase masterplan.  The Museum’s galleries are purpose-built to efficiently house a rotating collection of 450 cars.  In addition to the gallery spaces, the museum’s 185,000sf program includes administration space for the LeMay foundation, a banquet room, lecture halls, gift shop, café and a vehicle maintenance center.  Adjacent to the Museum is a 2.7 acre showfield designed for hosting car collector events held throughout the year.

Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

One of the primary requirements for this first phase was to construct the museum close to $100 a square feet.  This challenge was met through the extensive use of repetitive structural glu-lam members.  The main entry lobby is on average over 110 feet in width and 300 feet in length. The shape of the structure, which varies in width from 90 feet to over 110 feet and in height between 25 feet and 45 feet, was developed from one glue laminated beam jig and trimmed at different lengths. This achieved an incredible cost savings, and yet allowed the design to be very organic. Additionally, the use of glue laminated structures also allowed for the elimination of any fire proofing that is normally associated with structures of this size.
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

Central to the design of the Museum are the ramp galleries built to a slope greater than 20:1.  These gently sloped galleries allow patrons to have a contiguous experience without the interruption of using stairs or elevators.  A circuitous path of travel, patrons can experience the entire museum in one continuous walk through.  Vehicles and exhibits can be placed level to the slope increasing the flexibility and efficiency of the exhibition spaces.  Landings at each end of the museum serve as transitional nodes between the ramp galleries and the storage galleries.  The storage gallery on the B3 level acts a bridge to a congruent set of ramps directing patrons back to the main gallery.
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography
Tacoma, United States
A project by: Large Architecture
Type                                   Cultural – Museum

Location                            Tacoma, Washington
United States
Building status built in 2012
Site type urban
Building area     185000 sqft
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography
Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography
Photo: MKA Engineers
Courtesy of Large Architecture
Courtesy of Large Architecture
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