Architecture Students Win Awards

TAMPA, Fla. (June 11, 2009) – Students in the University of South Florida School of Architecture & Community Design are making Tampa a more beautiful place and winning awards in the process.


Two projects, the East Tampa Ponds Revitalization and the Canopy Park Village master plan, received awards of merit in environmental and master planning and urban design at the Hillsborough County Planning Commission’s 27th Annual Community Design Awards Program held at the Tampa Convention Center in May. A third USF project received recognition from and for the City of Temple Terrace in April.


“In each case, the contribution of the students’ and professors’ design skills and labor represented significant savings for the communities served,” said Barton Lee, interim director of the school. “We are extremely pleased with the relationships and perspectives that are developed out of these community engagement opportunities. They provide extremely valuable learning experiences and skills that are difficult, if not impossible to duplicate in the traditional classroom.”


The East Tampa Ponds Revitalization project transformed retention ponds into “community lakes” and parks. The first of three ponds, redesigned as a research project in the School’s Florida Center for Community Design + Research, captured the prize. It was completed by architecture professor Trent Green and students Abdias Thermidor and Darren Patterson and represents the fulfillment of a request that came to USF over a decade ago.


“Back in 1996, residents from East Tampa complained to us about the eyesores created by the retention ponds,” said Green. “They were detracting from the character of the community and we were approached in the hope we could help the community do something about it. In the intervening years, the community was designated a Community Revitalization Area and received funding through TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) to get the work done.


“The concept from the beginning was that the ponds could serve as beautiful public space and we accomplished that with a walkway, resting points, a gazebo, picnic tables, flower beds and other landscaping materials,” Green said. “Fortunately, Mayor Iorio is committed to revitalizing East Tampa and with her backing, we’ve been able to accomplish a lot.”


The second of the three ponds features landscaped areas, a lookout tower and covered pier now nearing completion. The third pond is waiting on funding before the next round of work begins.


The second award-winning project is the Canopy Park Village master plan for the redevelopment of a public housing project, completed by Paula Selvidge and Glenn McKay as part of Green’s Urban Design Studio. Though a purely academic and theoretical exercise showing what the Tampa Heights neighborhood could look like with the appropriate foresight, it incorporated input from a number of community groups and residents.


“While Tampa Heights has outlined its priorities, there is no overall plan for development,” Green said.   “We took a holistic approach to the area and restructured it into a walkable community containing various types of housing, commercial uses and open space that connects with existing housing and surrounding communities in a way that works with how people live today, creating a village atmosphere.


“In essence, we gave the Tampa Housing Authority as well as the people in the community visual images to go along with a lot of their hopes and aspirations for the area. We trust that putting sustainable concepts and creative ideas out there that reflect what they want will influence what happens in the long run.”


In addition, the City of Temple Terrace won a “green project” award from the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission for a pavilion built by fourteen USF graduate students in a Design/Build Studio class under the direction of professor Stanley R. Russell, director of the USF Design/Build program.


The pavilion was the product of collaboration between Temple Terrace Parks and Recreation and USF’s School of Architecture & Community Design. Submissions came from planners, architects, builders, developers, residents, community groups, local governments and others who were required to provide examples of sound planning and good design in Hillsborough County.


The City of Temple Terrace awarded its own certificates of recognition to the students and their professor at a City Council meeting at Temple Terrace City Hall.


“We emphasize sound planning in this course and our entire program in the School of Architecture & Community Design,” said Russell. “But I think it’s the way we focus on so many other factors, such as sustainability, sensitivity to the environment and peoples’ needs combined with the genuine talent of our graduate students that made this an award-winning project.”


These and similar projects provide USF students with valuable experience.


“The very intense and real-world applications of the work can have a lifelong imprint on the development and careers of our students,” said Lee. “I applaud our faculty for seeking out and providing these very special learning opportunities for our students and for the engagement that they are pursuing with the community.”


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 institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.