Restitch Tampa hosts competition to redesign Tampa's Hillsborough Riverfront
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09/05/11 Josh Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday

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A bird's eye view above one model that seeks to revision the Hillsborough River's role downtown.


photo by Josh Holton

Designers are imagining creative new ways to capitalize on Tampa’s downtown riverfront. An international design competition to enhance Tampa’s riverfront kicked off last night at the Tampa Museum of Art. It’s hosted by USF and the Tampa Downtown Partnership and several architectural models of a future riverfront were on display.

Green space has been a popular topic in city architecture and landscaping, but now blue space, a city’s waterfront, is a new trend in urban design. 30 years ago Tampa’s mayor planned out the Riverwalk. The 30 million dollar project is about halfway done, and will one day connect more than 2 miles with pedestrian walkways and green space. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said this design competition could influence the rest of the Riverwalk construction.

The design competition is called Restitch Tampa, and seeks to refocus the Hillsborough River as a social, economic, and ecologic spine for Tampa. When Governor Rick Scott rejected Florida’s funding for high speed rail, $1.2 million from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development remained set aside for train-related infrastructure. Shannon Basset, hopes that money goes toward the winning project. They’re fundraising now to award competition winners – that will just be for design, not for project construction.

Even though Tampa has Bayshore Boulevard, Curtis Hixon Park and more, St. Petersburg is better known for its urban green spaces. The City of St. Pete is having their own design competition to redesign the St. Pete Pier, using $55 million in city funding. Riverwalk Development Manager Lee Hoffman said that he’s happy with the current public private funding split to build Tampa’s Riverwalk.

Chad Oppenheim will be a judge on the jury for design competition finalists, and is well known for building a modern looking 25 story high-rise in Miami that includes solar panels and wind turbines into the design. Daniel Roark is a Basset’s graduate assistant, and helped work on several of the models on display last night. He said that ecology plays a major role in the design process.

About 30 people attended the event, many of whom were architecture students that plan to enter the competition. The deadline for submissions is December 2nd, and first stage winners will be announced December 15th.

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