St. Pete City Council approves three finalists to redesign the pier
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09/08/11 Josh Holton
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Today the St. Pete City Council approved a list of three finalists who will compete to redesign the St. Pete Pier. The city even hopes to outshine big cities like Chicago with the new waterfront.

In a 6-1 vote, the council voted with overwhelming support to approve three designers to conceive the new $55 million city project. Last month a five member jury shortlisted three finalists to imagine ways to design St. Pete’s next pier, which will be the third redesign of the Pier since the first one from the 19th century. City Architect Raul Quintana said that picking finalists among a highly talented list of candidates was a rather difficult choice to make.

"And again the list initially was just a phenomenal list. It's absolutely some of the best urban design architects, landscape architects in the country and around the world. We had a tremendous response and the semi-finalists list that the jury developed were all worthy and it was an extremely difficult decision, I mean difficult for me to watch and I'm sure difficult for the jury to go through to narrow it down to three. But the three that were selected, Michael Maltzan, Architecture Inc., Bjarke Ingels' group BIG, and West 8 with Allied Works are what we want to talk a little bit about."

Finalist Michael Maltzan has been noted for designing bridges in the past, and has been praised for proposing St. Pete specific ideas.

"We've got a five hundred acre development and it seamlessly integrates the architecture and the structure and the landscape. And it's more than just the connection of two banks, there's a park on either side and the way that the bridge widens in the middle and the way that they handled the differentiation between the pedestrian and the automobile and the different means of access somewhat maybe lends a little bit of where they may be going with the pier, just some notions that they had about access and connectivity."

Architecture firm BIG has been noted for bringing real innovation to the table, by integrating ski slopes into the design of one of their buildings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"A 475 unit highly sustainable development with sloping green roofs, just a very interesting project that's also won a number of awards."

The third finalist West 8 is known for working on Governor’s Island in New York, and also a big highway tunnel project in Spain.

"A 580 million dollar development in the city of Madrid to recapture the riverbank along a highway tunnel and West 8 was the designer of the master plan."

But City Council member Wengay Newton was the only dissenting vote. He had several questions about the budget for the project. $535,000 has already been spent on paying jury members and other related costs, but doesn’t include any of the design. Today’s proposal included $150,000 for the designers, which would bring pre-construction costs to around $800,000. Talking with Quintana, Newton found out that money is not included in the $50 million for construction.

"Is that about right, 45 million we have then? And then 68 million off of that. And that's including the 875 you guesstimate?"

Jury member and City Council member Leslie Curran was glad to see that all the Architects would design their projects to mesh well with downtown St. Pete since they’ve integrated past projects with the communities.

"But all of them had worked with communities and we thought that was very, very important that they didn't just look at designing a building to sit on the waterfront. They looked at designing a space and integrating the entire community into that."

Council member Steve Kornell was impressed by hearing Stanley Saitowitz’s bold statements about the architects of the new Dali museum in the media.

"If you know what we might do, we might say things like 'well, the Dali's great so let's try to get that firm to do it' and he's like 'no, we have a Dali, let's get something totally different, let's get something creative and unique'. Very excited that those professionals are looking at our city the way they are and the whole international community is looking at our city and you know, Chicago could take some lessons from us I guess."

Designs are expected to start coming in within the next few months, and should be presented in mid December.

Previous WMNF stories on the St. Pete Pier

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