Wednesday, June 29, 2011
St. Pete Casts Net for Designs to Replace Famous Pier
All hands on deck for an important assignment.
That’s the marching orders coming from St. Petersburg, Fla., in the form of an invitation for designs for a new St. Petersburg Pier.
“Since its earliest days as a growing fishing village on Florida’s west coast in the late 1800s, a pier has been the centerpiece of St. Petersburg, Florida’s downtown waterfront,” the city says in a recent announcement of an international design competition for a new, “iconic” Pier structure.
The current landmark Pier—the seventh in a succession of waterfront piers—opened in 1973 and is nearing the end of its lifespan, the city says.
Known as the “inverted pyramid,” the existing Pier designed by William B. Harvard Sr. juts a quarter mile from the city’s downtown entertainment district into Tampa Bay. The five-story structure includes a rooftop observation platform, restaurants, shops, boating excursions, fishing, bicycle rentals, a Pier Aquarium, and other attractions.
The current pier replaced the popular “Million Dollar Pier” (1926 to 1967), which reflected the Florida land boom with its Mediterranean-revival casino-style building.
The Pier’s lineage dates back to 1889, when the Orange Belt Railway built the Railroad Pier on Tampa Bay as a sightseeing and recreational destination. The Railroad Pier was succeeded in 1906 by the Electric Pier, which generated buzz with its dramatic night lighting.
City of St. Petersburg
|Different views of the current St. Petersburg Pier|
Then followed the Municipal Pier, a structure whose life was cut short by the hurricane of 1921. The Millionaire Pier started its reign in 1926, but in its later years took on more of the character of a pauper before being unceremoniously razed in 1967. The current Pier opened in 1973.
The casting call
Interested parties must register for the competition by July 8. Submission of a statement of qualifications will be due July 19.
A juried panel will select three design teams to be invited to the second phase of the process. During stage two, the three teams will submit a design concept, and each will receive a $50,000 honorarium for participating in the process.
It is anticipated that a final plan will be approved and contract negotiations will begin with the accepted team early next year.
Design teams interested in obtaining information on the city’s request for qualifications must visit the Competition Web site at www.stpete.org/PierDesign.
The website also provides volumes of background information and public input generated during a “community visioning” process that preceded the current design competition.
St. Petersburg is a happening design location these days, the city says in announcing the pier design competition. Earlier this year, the Salvador Dali Museum opened its doors on the city’s downtown waterfront in a $35 million building designed by HOK’s Yann Weymouth, the chief design architect for the Grand Louvre project in Paris.
Also within the last year, a new Chihuly Collection entered the city’s arts scene in a stunning space on fashionable Beach Drive, designed by noted architect Alberto Alfonso.
So, at least in St. Pete there’s some design and construction activity to talk about, kicking up a hint of a breeze in the midst of the economic doldrums afflicting the trades, not to mention the chill in the financing climate.
Build it and they will come, the saying goes.
Nowadays the question for architects and designers may well be, “if we design it, will the banks come?”
But that’s a topic for another day.
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