Stitching a Design Winner

USF’s School of Architecture sponsoring a design competition connecting Tampa’s downtown with the Hillsborough River.




By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2011) – So many of the world’s greatest cities are connected to iconic waterways, such as the Seine, Thames, the Chicago River and New York’s Hudson.


Tampa could be one of them, with its meandering Hillsborough River. But a patchwork of hits and misses along its banks has presented challenges, although improvements have been made in recent years.


A new contest hopes drive even more change.


[re]stitch Tampa, an international ideas competition,” is inviting designers everywhere to compete  with proposals that work to connect Tampa to its riverfront using the area’s underutilized public spaces. It is supported, in part, by a National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence grant and sponsored by the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design. (SACD).


This national and international competition launches with a reception at the Tampa Museum Sept. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with comments about the competition starting at 7 p.m.


The deadline for submissions is the first week of December. The first round of winners will be announced in the middle of December. In April 2012, the second stage of submissions will be due, and an awards ceremony and exhibition reception will be held on April 13. The reception will feature presentations and lectures by the jurors followed by workshops the next day by jurors, professors from USF SACD and members of the community.


“We’re looking at this project through the lens of landscape urbanism to refocus the Hillsborough River as a social, economic and ecologic spine for our city,” said Shannon Bassett, an assistant professor of architecture and urbanism at USF SACD. “But first we have to create a setting and an atmosphere that draws people to the riverfront, making it a destination where there’s a variety of experiences to take in again and again.”


The competition will be judged by a renowned International jury, as well as local stakeholders, and includes competition prize money.


Among the jurors are Charles Waldheim, principal, Urban Agency; John E. Irving professor and chair of landscape architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Juhani Pallasma of Arkkitehtitoimisto Juhani Pallasmaa KY; Ruth & Norman Moore, visiting professor at Washington University and Plym Professor at the University of Illinois; and Chad Oppenheim, principal of Oppenheim Architecture + Design in Miami and professor at Florida International University.


“This is not to say we will build the winner’s design but it will serve as an important catalyst,” Bassett said. “We’re looking for ways to shape the future development of the waterfront with the designing of public urban spaces of the city,” she said.We hope that this will be an envisioning process for city officials and developers, constituents and stakeholders, particularly with the $1.8 million HUD grant being awarded for an urban master plan for the city.”


Bassett’s landscape architecture students completed designs as a class project in a course she gave this summer. The drawings and models will be on display at the Tampa Museum, providing a bit of a jump start to a competition organizers hope will attract a great deal of attention.


“This is a rare opportunity,” Bassett said. “As architects and urban designers we love the challenge of finding solutions for real world problems and there aren’t that many cities left on which to have this kind of impact.


“We expect the designs to be more than just walkways skirting or crossing the river, we’re looking for a sustainable balance between the built and natural environments. They will need to address issues of storm water management and ways to promote green infrastructure throughout downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as keeping and maintaining bio-diversity along the blue artery.”


The competition is seeking community sponsors through the USF Foundation. Visit for more information. Or contributions can be sent to Mary Daley/Florida Center , SACD [re]stitch Tampa, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., HMS 301 Tampa, FL 33620. Competition information and registration materials are available at


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.