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St. Petersburg's Pier selection committee narrows field to eight finalists

Six of the eight finalists vying to build a new Pier plan to reuse the iconic inverted pyramid in their design.
Published Oct. 4, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16 design teams vying to build a new Pier were whittled to eight on Friday, and the odds seem to favor a concept that would save the inverted pyramid.

Six of the eight finalists plan to reuse the iconic 1973 structure in their bid for the $46 million project.

The finalists will each receive $30,000 to create a concept in the next 10 weeks. The selection committee will evaluate them in January.

Before the mayor's committee narrowed the field on Friday, one member stepped down because of a potential conflict of interest.

Bob Jeffrey, who was on Mayor Rick Kriseman's Pier transition committee, disclosed to the city's attorney that he had a contract with one of the architectural firms vying for the project. Also, one of the design teams was quickly eliminated after failing to submit required licenses.

In the end, those shortlisted by the six-member committee included Tampa Bay area teams, as well as some with national and international reach.

"They've got eight strong choices," said City Council member Karl Nurse. "I think that most of them have good strong local connections, which I think will help .... And I think it was clarified that this is not phase one, so they need to design something that will stand on its own."

Among the well-known local firms moving forward is the St. Pete Design Group, which was praised for the proposed collaboration of talent, Salvador Dalí Museum architect Yann Weymouth, Harvard Jolly, designer of the original inverted pyramid, and Wannemacher Jensen, which worked on the Lens, the design once proposed for the city's next Pier.

St. Petersburg's Mesh Architecture, teaming up with FR-EE, which has offices in Mexico and New York, and Civitas, which is redesigning Tampa's Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, also will continue to the next round.

Other finalists include:

• ahha! Design Group, a small St. Petersburg architectural firm that would build a new Pier.

• Alfonso Architects of Tampa heads a team that includes Dale Chihuly, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman and artist James Rosenquist. It plans to create a new landmark.

• FR-EE, with Civitas and Mesh Architecture, marries international and local design talent and would rebuild the inverted pyramid.

• Ross Barney Architects of Chicago will work with Tampa's Long and Associates to preserve the pyramid and remold it into a "dynamic new experience".

• ASD, Roger Partners and Ken Smith Landscape will renovate the inverted pyramid.

• St. Pete Design Group unites Salvador Dalí Museum architect Yann Weymouth with Harvard Jolly, designer of the original inverted pyramid, and Wanne­macher Jensen, once part of the Lens design team.

• VOA team, based in Orlando, seeks to "renew the existing pier while preserving the inverted pyramid form."

• W Architecture and Landscape Architecture of New York would renovate the Pier.

Eliminated teams included Cooper Johnson Smith Architects and Town Planners of Tampa, whose approach was referred to by committee member Michael G. Meidel as "highly urbanized."

"They missed the boat on what we're looking for," said Michael Connors, St. Petersburg's public works administrator and committee chairman.

Fisher and Associates of Clearwater, which planned to use aspects of a plan to renovate the inverted pyramid from the late Vote on the Pier architect Kenneth Kroger, also was dropped.

Kai Warren, a preservationist and committee member, said he felt as though the design was being offered as "a memorial."

And El Equipo de Mazzanti of Colombia and Hayes Cumming Architects of St. Petersburg — Andy Hayes was co-chairman of Kriseman's transition team — also did not make the shortlist. Committee members thought their idea of modular pieces was interesting but potentially expensive.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

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