Three finalist teams have been selected for the last stage of a competition to redesign the treasured St. Petersburg Pier in Florida, US. The existing pier dates back to 1889 when it was constructed by the Orange Belt Railway for recreational use by locals and tourists. It was so well received by the community that in 1906 the pier was extended by 3,000ft into the Electric Pier, illuminating the Florida coastline with an impressive light display.
Various alterations and replacements followed as the community grew and developed and the coastal location took its toll, with an international design competition held this year to generate a complete reimagining of this much-loved attraction.
Michael Maltzan Architecture - The Lens
For Los Angeles-based Michal Maltzan Architecture, the most important element of the pier’s redesign was to ensure that the new structure reflected the close, interdependent relationship that the St. Petersburg community has with the water. Instead of focusing on the needs of the reams of tourists that flood Florida for seasonal holidays, the practice has instead put the local residents at the forefront of its design, detailing: “Operating on multiple scales of renewal - individual, urban, economic, ecological - this new Pier serves as a new kind of fountain of youth for St. Petersburg and its citizens, a symbol of the renewed vitality of the City, a platform for continued growth, and a destination within the City, the region, and our nation.”
Bjarke Ingels Group - The Wave
The second finalist is the New York office of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), for whom it is not a symbolic representation of the region’s relationship with the coast that takes centre stage but their interaction with it. As such, BIG’s composition culminates in a curled flourish that offers amenities for swimming, diving, kayaking, and docks for small boats. The form retains scope for a wide variety of public performances and activities from acrobatics to music concerts, athletics to fishing.
West 8 - The People’s Pier
Also heralding from New York is West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. The team sees this competition not as generic building project but an opportunity to redefine the St. Petersburg area. Their proposal reads: “The pier design we share here is a series of experience, including where it meets downtown, at the municipal marina, at the warm waters where the manatee swims, and at the unbelievable horizon of Tampa Bay. The experiences along the way provide an unfolding journey, and a part of the fun getting to the pier’s end. The People’s Pier culminates at what we call the St. Petersburg Eye - a totally unique structure that has four levels, each with infinite views, exceptional experiences, open-ended settings, and inspiring vistas.”
An exhibition of the three final designs is open to the public at St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. N.E. from 6th December - 30th December, and members of the community are asked to leave their feedback on the concepts for the jury at the St. Petersburg Pier website. Vote for your favourite below and use the ‘Your Comments’ section (left) to tell us the reasons for your choices.