The small, picturesque campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg sits at the edge of a harbor within Tampa Bay. It’s setting is one of its greatest assets for recruitment and retention of students, but the amenities and green space that line the waterfront are under utilized. This project involves multiple phases of design scope to create a new, student-centered destination from an abandoned commercial kitchen and space that was once the campus hub prior to the campus’ expansion towards the north/urban edge of Downtown St. Petersburg.
One of the biggest project challenges is dealing with existing building constraints – including the demolition of an abandoned food service operation and an unwelcoming and nondescript facade with no clear sense of entry or way-finding to the area or building. The primary project goal is to create a multi-functional destination for students, faculty and staff at the south edge of campus and celebrate its unique characteristics and siting at the water’s edge.
The project was required to remain operational during construction requiring coordination to keep recreation components and occupied areas of the building completely functional. The design consists of a new interior student activity center connecting the campus pool at the east and new plaza and nodes of activity at the west through the use of glazed, sliding /folding doors across the width of both sides. More efficient use of exterior storage and service spaces for the campus recreational amenities related to the pool and waterfront (i.e. pool, kayaking, sailing, sail-boarding, etc.) will allow for better functionality and preparation to expand as the Campus Recreation Hub. The study and way-finding elements were inspired by the idea of nautical navigation through the stars and the imaginary lines connecting these nodes in constellations such as Taurus (the Bull and school mascot). Similarly, the proposed elements from the exterior to the interior are continually connecting through lines of sight and architectural elements to guide inhabitants to the various spaces.