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Rating the architecture that frames downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront park

Architect and designer Vikas Mehta sizes up downtown St. Petersburg's piece de resistance

In the early 1900s, at a time when most waterfront cities had ports and industrial plants, a crusading editor named W.L. Straub pressed this city to make its waterfront a public park.

Today, 100 years later, St. Petersburg has the third largest waterfront park in North America behind only Chicago and Vancouver. A spiky skyline has taken shape with six new condo towers rising in the last decade alone.

So we wondered, with so many new skyscrapers and such varied architectural styles, did we do a good job of framing the unique waterfront park that Straub and other city pioneers left us?

[Photo LARA CERRI | Multimedia DESIREE PERRY | Times]
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Rating the architecture that frames downtown
St. Petersburg's waterfront park

The downtown St. Petersburg parks have been an icon for 100 years, since W.L. Straub's idea that the St. Petersburg waterfront should be protected. But how well have we done with the architecture that frames the downtown St. Petersburg parks on the waterfront? We decided to ask an expert from the University of South Florida. Our expert walked the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront, from the Vinoy to the new Salvador Dali Museum, and gave us his opinion of the architecture and how the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront works overall. While he loved the Vinoy's iconic history on the waterfront, he wasn't as crazy about newer architecture that tried to mimic the Vinoy's Mediterranean Revival look, but use more modern materials. Overall, he praised the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront and the waterfront parks as "a wonderful, dynamic public space."

[LARA CERRI | Times]
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