UPDATE: Light rail (Designs) On the Move

USF architecture students’ design projects are helping inform Hillsborough County voters about light rail.


By Jenna Withrow

USF.edu News Writer


TAMPA, FL (October 29, 2010) – Even though we won’t know its fate until Election Day, the proposed light rail is already making its way through Hillsborough County.


With the light rail project just in the beginning phases, USF School of Architecture and Community Design (SACD) students are already envisioning what stations could look like. And the students are sharing their vision with the Tampa Bay community.


As part of an annual competition, SACD students teamed up to design light rail stations in August. Students spent an entire weekend conceptualizing and creating models of light rail stops for specific locations throughout Hillsborough County. Each student group received a different location along the proposed rail alignments: half worked along the I-275 alignment and the other half worked on the CSX alignment.


At the end of the of the intense three-day design competition, students submitted 16 designs, which were judged by SACD professors, city of Tampa officials, a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) official for strategic planning, and a member of the Tampa Downtown Partnership.


Since the competition, the designs have been on display at various locations throughout Tampa Bay. Several projects are currently on display in the lobby of One Tampa City Center in downtown Tampa. The projects will then be displayed in the Bank of America building lobby, followed by other locations around downtown Tampa.


The students’ designs were also on display at the HART headquarters in Ybor City, when the transit service company received the national Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award in mid-October.


Each year, the Charette design competition provides SACD students with opportunities to apply concepts they learned in the classroom to pressing situations in their community. The proposed light rail was the perfect topic for this year’s competition, said USF Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Trent Green.


“This is a timely issue for our community,” Green said. “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.”


On Nov. 2, Hillsborough County residents will weigh in on the Transit Tax, which would increase the sales tax by one cent to pay for new commuter rail, expanded bus service and road work.


For more information on the proposed light rail, visit this special report page. To see a complete run-down of USF voters should expect Nov. 2, visit our Election Day Guide.

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