Architecture Students Exhibit Creative Ideas for Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 4, 2008) – Equipped with excellent training and creative imaginations, students from the University of South Florida’s School of Architecture have produced inspired visions of the future for the Tampa Armature Works, also known as the Trolley Barn, as well as the waterfront connections that factor in the building’s strategic position at the beginning of the City's new Riverwalk on the Hillsborough river.  The opening for the display of their drawings, renderings and models of their ideas takes place Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with Mayor Pam Iorio in attendance between 11:15 and 11:45 a.m.   (The Riverwalk groundbreaking ceremony will be held Friday, Dec. 5.) 


The massive 70,000-square-foot red brick building that once housed streetcar trolleys now stands abandoned, covering a full city block on the Hillsborough River at Seventh Avenue.  This former historic transportation hub is ripe for development and strategically located at the beginning of and next to Waterworks Park, the first park being developed for the City's Riverwalk scheme, where groundbreaking takes place on the same day as the students’ exhibit.


"My students have been working on the project all semester for the adaptive re-use of the property, along with a residential tower factored in," said Bassett.  "They came up with an exciting program for the Trolley Barn as a civic programmed public space that includes a farmer's market, artists' live/work units, in addition to some commercial and cafes.  They were encouraged to consider the project as creating a district for the city as opposed to just another building.  We also looked at the City’s Riverwalk proposal to understand how our project might interface with that.”


A class trip to Toronto in September led Bassett and her class to look at various applicable precedents for this project such as the Distillery District, Evergreen Brickworks and even another trolley barn, the Wychford Barn, which had been turned into artists’ lofts and community space by a non-profit developer.  Additionally, students met with officials from Waterfront Toronto, the city's waterfront redevelopment agency.  Toronto has been a world leader in developing its waterfront and has just finished an international design competition where some of the most cutting edge architects, landscape architects and urban designers are charged with master plan of the city's waterfront.  The City of Toronto, along with numerous other cities in North America, has realized the tremendous potential in revitalization of post-industrial waterfronts into vibrant cultural amenities which also become economic engines for those cities. 


Bassett and her class worked with Darren Booth, the Heights project manager who took them on a boat ride along the Hillsborough River the first week of class.  He also rented a cherry-picker that took them 30 feet above ground for a rare preview of the tremendous views afforded by the proposed tower.  "He wanted us to understand the City's connection to the waterfront,” Bassett said.  "He got us to envision his proposed route of water taxi stands and to gain the perspective of the future residential units onto the river and vice versa."


Bassett sees the newly-imagined district accomplishing several goals.  “We hope the vision we all have for the city and the Riverwalk will promote regeneration and development along the waterfront not to mention serving as an economic catalyst for the city,” she said.


Students were also asked to consider the integration of sustainability concepts into their projects.  Many of them envision softening the edge of the waterfront and reintroducing some of the natural ecologies to the water’s edge.  Such strategies have been employed in parts of the Hillsborough River, notably to the south of the aquarium.  This approach introduces a natural filtering device for storm water run-off headed for the Hillsborough River.  Other schemes integrate natural ventilation and passive solar devices.


"I am tremendously excited by what all of my students have come up with,” Bassett said.  “I think it is time for Tampa to step onto the world stage as a first-class city.  It has all of the natural amenities to do so, but the urban design of the city needs to address the waterfront, not ignore it.  San Antonio realized that.  Its sewer, with buildings backing onto it, became a first-class Riverwalk whose buildings fronted onto it and established connections to the waterfront.  First-class cities also need exciting and provocative new design as in New York, Boston and Toronto, not the same old same old.”


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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