''The Lens'' wins new St. Petersburg Pier design competition

7:13 PM, Jan 20, 2012   |    comments
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Video: "The Lens" wins St. Pete Pier competition

  • St. Pete Pier design proposal: "The Lens" by Michael Maltzan Architecture (image courtesy City of St. Petersburg)
  • St. Pete Pier design proposal: "The Lens" by Michael Maltzan Architecture (courtesy: City of St. Pete)
    

 

 

St. Petersburg, Florida -- The tiara-shaped network of bridges and pathways called The Lens has won the international design competition to pick a concept for a new St. Petersburg Pier.

Sweeping walkways and a graceful canopy are now set to define St. Petersburg's skyline.

Photo Gallery: St. Pete Pier finalists' design proposals

St. Petersburg's City Council will discuss the concept on January 26th and then vote to either approve or reject the project during its meeting on February 2nd.

A jury of three architects and two elected officials unanimously selected the concept after studying the subject for more than a month and deliberating in a meeting Friday morning for half an hour.

Why The Lens? The panel members said they liked its flexible design, which could be tweaked based on both budget limits and public input as the project is planned out over the next few years.

They liked its graceful beauty and how its paths integrate into what the city intends to be a re-energized waterfront.

And they also felt The Lens was the most practical and cost-effective concept; it doesn't center on one building or destination out over the water that could prove to be an expensive-to-maintain empty shell if visitors aren't attracted to it.

The panel considered presentations from three design groups, analysis from outside consultants, and more than 5,000 pieces of feedback from the public.

Of the public comments, 68% supported The Lens, 42% also liked The Wave, while only 17% backed the Eye.

The panel's reccomendations fell exactly in that order.

"The fact that I liked it and the public liked it too, I think was quite decisive," said panel member Susan Fainstein.

City council now has the option of either accepting The Lens or rejecting it and leaving the city to start from scratch.

If the green light is given to The Lens idea, a process of public involvement over the next year would help come up with a final blueprint for a new pier.

Mayor Bill Foster says the city needs to rally around this design and work to figure out what must go there to draw crowds.

"It's a real opportunity to make a statement to the nation.  It will be a destination and we just have to do it right," Foster said.

The city's staff found The Lens project as it was presented would cost about 25 percent more than than the $45 million budget.

But the staff said the project can easily be scaled down to fit the available money by shortening the pier and making other less noticeable changes.

Demolition of the existing pier and construction of the new pier is set to take place in the 2013-2015 time frame, city staff members said.

Earlier Story:

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Friday morning, we'll find out which of three pier design finalists will be chosen as the new iconic landmark in Downtown St. Pete.

A panel of experts will rank the pier designs Friday, declare a winner, and present that top pick to the St. Petersburg City Council for approval.

After it became clear that the existing pier will have to be replaced because of its age, City Council approved an international design competition to pick a new pier.

A trio of architectural firms came through with visions for how the new icon would look and integrate into the city.

One of those will be chosen Friday as the winner, then City Council will get to either approve or reject that winner. Under the rules of the competition, the council will not be able to select the second- or third-place design. 

The jury is made up of three architects and two elected officials.

Each of them has gotten a thick packet that summarizes and spells out community feedback gathered from the city's website and a public display of the concepts at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

All told, several thousand elements of feedback were submitted. And that information from the public will be factored into the jury's deliberations.

The discussion starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday inside St. Pete City Hall, and there's no time limit.

In the end, the jury will rank the three finalists. But that ranking is really just to let the architects know how they did against each other. Only the first-place design can be considered by City Council for approval.

Here's a reminder of the three designs being considered.

The Wave is a looping structure that includes space inside for a museum, restaurant, or event venue.

The Lens has the feel of a sweeping tiara and would feature boat rentals and an underwater reef structure.

The Eye would sit on a sandy shoal out in Tampa Bay that would serve as a public beach. The architects call this "The People's Pier."

Starting at 8:30 a.m., you can watch the process live on St. Petersburg's City TV channel. That's available on broadcast channel 35, Bright House Networks channel 615, Knology channel 15, and Verizon FiOS channel 20.

Read the Proposals (PDF):

10 News reporter Grayson Kamm will be live at the meeting during 10 News at 9, so you can tune in at 9 a.m. and catch up on what's happened so far. You can also watch 10 News at Noon to find out what the jury decides.

Following Friday's jury selection of a winning design, City Council will discuss the choice in a workshop on January 26th, and then vote on whether to approve the design during February 2nd's City Council meeting.

If City Council rejects the competition winner, we're back close to square one, with a pier that city leaders know needs to be replaced and no plans to replace it.

Assuming City Council approves the winner, it's really just the beginning of the process. There will be a long period -- perhaps a year -- where the plans are actually put together.

During that time, the city plans several more sessions of public involvement as a new pier to last generations is created.

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