USFP Looks for a Signature Architect

signofthetimesOn Monday and Tuesday, staff, students, and the public attended presentations by seven firms looking to design USF Polytechnic’s first building at the new campus. Catherine Lavallee-Welch attended many of the presentations and wrote us a short description of each. Lavallee-Welch is the librarian for USFP and is not on the committee charged with finding an architect. Opinions express here are her own and do not represent any USFP or Lakeland Local position. She is also my wife, but no one should hold that against her.

Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects/ASD

These architects are interested by the challenge between function and happenstance relationships and by the creation of not multipurpose spaces but by unowned spaces to create events. Unfortunately, of all the groups, they were the only one to not present building designs or concepts or a new master plan for the future campus.

Some of their projects: Ohio State University Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture; UCONN at Storrs Fine Arts Center.

Gresham, Smith and Partners

This group puts more importance on a good solid structure than on its iconic nature. They had multiple ideas to ensure the sustainability of the campus. Like many other proposals, they suggest moving the location of the first building to ensure a better visibility from the highway. Some of their projects: Cleveland Botanical Gardens; National Association of Realtors; Disney Celebration Inn

HKS Architects, Inc & Duda/Paine Architects, LLP

I could not attend this presentation but I am told they came very prepared, with a potential design for the building. Sustainability issues were explored thoroughly. Some of their projects: University of Miami Jackson Memorial Medical Center Mental Health Center, Miami, FL
University of Central Florida Arts Complex II, Orlando, FL (in design phase)

Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

This firm pays attention to the balance between landscape and building. They prefer a simple palette of materials (which includes light), simple diagrams and clear circulation and way-finding. Some of their projects: Getty Center, Santa Monica, CA; Cornell University Life Sciences Technology Building; Jubilee Church, Rome, Italy.

Santiago Calatrava / Festina Lente

Santiago Calatrava is one of the top architects of today and he was today undoubtedly the main attraction for the dozens of architecture students in the audience. He presented pictures and videos of various projects to illustrate architectural concepts. He also drew a few sketches (to the students’ delight) of a possible vision for the USF Poly I-4 campus. Personally I wonder if this firm can meet scheduling and budget limits but the designs are amazing. Some of their projects: Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece; Tenerife Opera House, Canary Islands, Spain; City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain; Turning Torso skyscraper, Malmö, Sweden

(Ed. Note: Calatrava is having a little trouble with the developer of the Chicago Spire.)

Lake|Flato / Schenkel & Shultz, Inc.

These firms look for an “iconic vision grounded in reality” with “regional references and a natural partnership with the environment.” They smartly put the emphasis between the resemblances between the USF Poly project and their recently completed Arizona State University Polytechnic campus in terms of budget, schedule and size. Unlike other proposals, they suggest moving the first phase to the south, away from the noise of the highway. Some of their projects: ASU Polytechnic; Florida Gulf Coast University’s Sugden Hall and Lutgert Hall

Zeidler Partnership Inc. Architects

This firm was inspired by the commons concept in the USF Poly Building Program and they want to explore it at different levels: building, campus, space. They talked little about sustainability but remain sensitive to environmental issues. They do believe a building must relate to its environment and not look like it could be set anywhere. Some of their projects: Canada Place, Vancouver; Media Park, Koln, Germany; Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA

List of firms that presented a submittal by Sep 19, 2008. Those submittals are available in the USFP library.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local