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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Design changes to new pier will only make it better, architects say



One of the new pier's architects sat down with the Tampa Bay Times' editorial board Tuesday to talk about how their original concept has evolved.  

The changes are most evident in the shape of the building and the loss of what some have referred to as its "birdcage" appearance. 

The former look came from strips of fabric, a material similar to that used at Tropicana Field, that partially enshrouded the pier building and was meant to provide shade. Some critics, though, expressed concern that the fabric strips might actually obscure views. There was also concern about the fabric's durability and maintenance. 

Now shelter from Florida's sun -- and rain -- will be provided by a concrete roof, accented with an aluminum trellis. 

Other changes to the original design from ASD of Tampa, Rob Rogers of Rogers Partners Architects and Urban Designers and Ken Smith Landscape Architect of New York, have included removing a grandstand that faced the great lawn in front of the pier building and could obscure views from within the restaurant. The restaurant also was reoriented to take advantage of desired downtown views. 

"The changes that we've made are really inspired by programmatic issues. Issues that really have to do with how the restaurant is going to be used, what those views are," said John Curran of ASD.  
He added that it was more functional to have the restaurant provide spectacular city views, rather than vistas primarily to east. That was the advice of both restaurant owners and the city, he said. 

About the decision to abandon plans to use the caissons that had supported the inverted pyramid as a base for the new pier, Curran explained that their load capacity was uncertain. Instead, the caissons, which rise five feet above the water, are better used for the fishing deck and will bring people closer to the bay. Nudged by the feedback they received, the architects also added retail space and cafes to the new pier building. 

"In the end, what we created is an image that may look different, but actually functions way better...and it satisfies some concerns about how we are going to maintain it and make sure that this building lasts for 75 years," Curran said. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 8:21pm]


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