The LeMay collection is the world’s largest private auto collection. At its peak, it contained more than 3,000 vehicles. The collection features virtually every American make as well as numerous foreign cars. Recognized as a national treasure to be preserved, the LeMay family set out to build a museum to preserve the collection and tell the story of America’s love affair with the automobile. The City of Tacoma, which donated the land to the museum, wanted an iconic building that would be a proud addition to its cityscape. Much of our initial work was in creation of a Master Plan for the campus to allow for multiple phasing of campus development without interruption to previously completed phases and ongoing operations.
The Collector Car Center is the core of the LeMay Museum and a tremendous amount of pre-design effort went into its development. It represents the first phase of a two phase project thus we needed a design that provided a small comprehensive museum that would be open prior to the completion of the main pavilion in phase two. The facility needed to provide for the permanent storage of 700 vehicles in one location and on the flat. Much like the design of a college campus, each phase needed to be a fully functional building that would not be interrupted during phase two construction or look incomplete if the second phase of the project developed at a slower pace than planned. This also required a design strategy that was mechanically and structurally independent of the phases.