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Well-known Tampa Bay area architects want to renovate St. Petersburg's Pier

ST. PETERSBURG — The competition is promising to be stiff among design teams vying to give St. Petersburg a new or renovated Pier.

Design teams interested in the $46 million project must submit their qualifications by Friday, but interested groups already are emerging.

A powerhouse of well-known Tampa Bay area architects announced plans Wednesday to renovate the 1973 inverted pyramid. The group includes Salvador Dalí Museum architect Yann Weymouth; Harvard Jolly, designers of the iconic and controversial upside-down pyramid Pier; and Wannemacher Jensen, a local group that worked with the Los Angeles team that designed the Lens, the pyramid's rejected replacement.

They'll combine their talents under the name St. Pete Design Group. Though the group plans to keep the inverted pyramid, it won't look the same, Weymouth said.

"Obviously, we need to reimagine how we approach it, but the concept is simple," he said. "We want to respect our past and honor it, but bring it into the 21st century and much farther into the future. And our team is structured precisely in order to do that."

Mesh Architecture, which months ago floated an idea for a smaller inverted pyramid, with tall ceilings for a signature restaurant and family dining spots on the rooftop, also is among the hopefuls.

Tim Clemmons, a principal of the St. Petersburg firm, declined to discuss the design team's plans Wednesday.

"It's just too soon to commit one way or the other as to what approach we will be taking," he said. "We will be putting together a really strong team and we're hoping we get on the short list, because we think this is an exciting project."

Mesh had partnered with BIG, an architectural firm based in Denmark and New York, in the Pier design competition won by the Lens. BIG's concept, which resembled an enormous wheel, was a finalist.

Weymouth said his group envisions a phased development given the $46 million ($33 million for construction) budgeted for the project.

"Even the city does not expect, I do not believe, that the $46 million is going to include the uplands," he said.

"We anticipate that the $33 million, which is not a small number, is going to be dedicated to the reimagining of the pyramid and the reimagining of the approach and the pierhead. I believe we can do something very spectacular with that. And we must. This is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge for our generation."

Weymouth said the team will design a plan for the uplands that would work with the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan and can be broken into parcels such as playgrounds.

Weymouth, who until last year was the Florida design director for HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, said he left it to be on his own, "to do this kind of project."

His role will be that of design director. Wannemacher Jensen, which has completed many city projects, will be responsible for the uplands and the Pier approach. Harvard Jolly, which is designing the city's new police headquarters, will work on the inverted pyramid.

The city hopes to have a short list of design teams by Oct. 3.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at wmoore@tampabay.com.

Well-known Tampa Bay area architects want to renovate St. Petersburg's Pier 09/03/14 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2014 1:05am]
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