Usual suspects fight for design job of $20 million Pier Approach project
Six design teams are vying for the $20 million project that will link the city’s new Pier to downtown.
Most of the names competing for the so-called Pier Approach Project are familiar.
Among them is the team that has won the coveted prize to design the Pier itself.
Out to bolster their position, the designers of Pier Park say they already understand the mechanics of the new Pier district and their vision incorporates “all the goals and elements” of the city’s downtown waterfront master plan.
“It is this head start that will allow us, like no other team, to fulfill the city’s goal of designing, permitting and constructing the Pier Park and Pier Approach for one ribbon cutting,” says the response to the city’s request for proposals from ASD, Rogers Partners and Ken Smith Landscape Architect.
Five other firms hope to beat out the ASD team. They are:
• AECOM, the consultant for the recently approved downtown waterfront master plan, wants to continue its work on the Pier. The Pier approach project is based on the master plan that it helped create.
• W Architecture and Landscape Architecture of New York unsuccessfully submitted its Blue Pier design with lagoons for the new Pier. This time, the firm is teaming up with former rival Wannemacher Jensen, a local designer on two failed Pier designs: the Lens, which was initially approved but was rejected by voters in 2013, and the subsequent Destination St. Pete Pier, a finalist that lost out to Pier Park when a selection committee chose it in April.
• Civitas of Denver, which redesigned Tampa’s Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, was also part of a team that hoped to design the city’s new Pier. The firm, which will again work with St. Petersburg’s Mesh Architecture, has brought on well-known local artistic director Bob Devin Jones of Studio @620 as a consultant.
• Alfonso Architects of Tampa had planned to replace the inverted pyramid with a tower. It is designing the city’s new $70 million American Arts and Crafts Movement Museum.
• OT9 Design, whose resume includes the Channelside Parking Garage, is from St. Petersburg. The team includes Loren Rhoads of the Rhoads Group, who will help develop restaurant facilities, “specifically a waterfront restaurant complete with aquatic access,” OT9 Design says.
Former competitors for the Pier project are pledging to play well with each other.
“We will work with our colleagues and friends designing Pier Park to make a seamless, vital and unified waterfront for the people of St. Pete,” W Architecture says.
Alfonso Architects, whose Pier idea was a finalist, notes that the proposed Pelican parking lot restaurant site “deserves an iconic structure.” The firm says it will “create a building that has a singular identity that elevates the St. Petersburg dining experience while respecting the architecture and imagery of Pier Park.”
AECOM, the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan consultant, tells the city it is “ideally qualified to continue the work” it began. Furthermore, “we understand the community and they understand us,” it says.
The Pier approach project will envelop areas of Bayshore and Beach drives and is envisioned to include components such as a grand entry, pedestrian art promenade, an art bridge, an open-air market and two restaurants. Integration with Pier Park is considered essential.
The two restaurants will include a two-level, approximately 8,000-square-foot establishment near the St. Petersburg Museum of History. It is currently expected to cater to full-service, casual dining. The second restaurant at the southeastern edge of the Pelican parking lot would offer fine dining. It will also be no more than 8,000 square feet. The city is expected to seek proposals for the restaurants in January.
A third restaurant that is not part of the approach will be located on the third floor of the Pier Park building that is replacing the inverted pyramid.
A selection committee will whittle down the list to the most qualified firms for the Pier approach on Oct. 6 and rank them 10 days later. Contract negotiations are scheduled to take place in November and December. The City Council is being asked to approve a contract in January.