Winston Churchill famously said, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us." Our buildings are expressions of ourselves and determine how we perceive our home. The new pier must capture the spirit of St. Petersburg because its form will shape our lives and the vision of our city for generations.
The 1926 Mediterranean Revival Million Dollar Pier told the world we were no longer a sleepy Florida frontier town, but rather a sunny playground to rival the Italian Riviera. Bill Harvard's 1972 inverted pyramid projected youth and fun at a time when we were trying to break from our image as "God's waiting room." The architecture of these previous piers rooted them in their time and place and created an image for St. Petersburg's future.
In the same vein, the Lens by Michael Maltzan Architecture speaks to our time and place and points us toward St. Petersburg's next era. Its crenellated sail and cantilevered paths elegantly capture the active life of our vibrant and artistic community. The flexible design will enable us to use the pier differently from previous generations. For us the pier will be less of a destination and more of an experience, seamlessly flowing from downtown and our historic parks. We will ride bicycles with our children, run along the looping paths, try paddle boarding, and encounter the bay. Through our use, we will become a central part of the architecture. Thus, we will shape our future pier and thereafter it will shape us.
Emily Elwyn is a historic preservationist and community volunteer.