Light Rail Projects Focused On Community Awareness

Light rail station designs created by USF architecture students will be on display at community outreach meetings sponsored by HART.


By Jenna Withrow News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2010) – The work of students at the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design is helping create awareness and facilitate educated debate about a timely Tampa Bay issue: light rail transit.


During the last weekend of August, architecture students stayed up at all hours of the night designing light rail stations in the all-school charette competition.

Click here to view a slideshow of some of the projects. 

The student groups gathered together again on Friday, Sept. 10 to learn the results of the competition. A jury including SACD professors, city of Tampa officials, a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) official for strategic planning, and a member of the Tampa Downtown Partnership selected three winners and three honorable mentions. The winning teams split $3,000 in prize money.


The members of the first place team were: Derek Homan, Hsuan Kuo, and Andrew Loper. The second place team included students Joanne Fiebe, Ashley Garrett, Erika Group, Dana Nilesen, Nick Pastor, and Adam Skwirsk. Members of the third place team included Jonathon Anderson, Ladina Badraun, James Gilman, Alex Rios and Martha Sherman.


Three teams also received honorable mention for their designs, including: the team of Higor Arruda, Sobieslaw Fedyk, Juan Felipe, Ryan Swanson, and David Zawko; the team of Delia Cananillas, Becky Frye, Danile Haughton, Robert Kuhn, Michael Marti, and Andres Moguel; and the team of Erik Colon, Eli Pano, Derek Pirozzi, Camille Rivera, and Ashley Young.


Beyond a cash prize, an even bigger award will give the students well-deserved exposure in the community. Several of the students’ design schemes will be on display at HART community outreach sessions over the next two months.


“Up until this point, HART only had maps of the proposed light rail alignments. Now, the community can start to envision the potential of light rail in the Tampa Bay area. The students’ designs will help people begin to understand what they are voting on,” said Trent Green, associate professor of Architecture and Urban Design.


For SACD student Alex Rios, who was a member of the third-place team, the competition was about creating an identity for light rail in Tampa Bay.


“We wanted to change people’s minds about what light rail transit is. Because it is new to Tampa, we wanted to make it a landmark and give it a presence, instead of hiding it in the background,” Rios said.


Each year, the charette competition provides SACD students with opportunities to apply concepts they learned in the classroom to pressing situations in their community. In years past, students have designed bus transfer stations for HART, cost effective dual housing for the city of Lakeland and bat houses for Lowry Park Zoo.


This year, students were asked to design light rail stops for various locations throughout Hillsborough County. Each group received a specific location along the proposed rail alignments: half worked along the proposed I-275 alignment and the other half worked on the proposed CSX alignment.


When designing their stations, students had to keep several key issues in mind. Students were required to incorporate a waiting area with benches; water fountains and pedestrian lighting; one sustainable feature; a public art display; a bike path and rack; and an information kiosk, among other things. The station design needed to blend in with surrounding buildings and reflect the area’s culture.


“This is a timely issue for our community. People don’t know what the light rail will look like and who it will serve. They want more information; they want to know if this is worth their investment. My hope is that the students’ work will provide another level of information for the community,” Green said. 


The student light rail schemes will be posted on the SACD website.


On November 2, Hillsborough County voters will decide whether to increase their sales tax by one-cent on the dollar to pay for light rail and other transportation improvements. For more information on light rail, visit this special report page.


Jenna Withrow covers student activities and events at USF. She can be reached at 813-974-4014.