Ybor City Waters
by Terra Tectonics Design Group, Inc.
If you’ve ever been, or plan on going to Tampa, Ybor City is the place to eat when you’re in town. Saturday night in particular is hopping, with latin music blasting from various establishments and crowds of people strolling the walkways.
Ybor City was originally the cigar-manufacturing district of Tampa, producing millions of cigars each year for about 50 years. Immigrants from Spain, Cuba and Italy largely inhabited the area. Ybor began a slow decline beginning during the Depression, and became something of an abandoned city in the decades after WWII.
The city’s original neighborhood has since been redeveloped. Centro Ybor is a mix of retailers, restaurants, a 20-screen cinema complex … and barkers and beauties trying to hustle you into strip clubs. When you think “French Quarter,” stateside, you’re talking about New Orleans; when you think “Latin Quarter,” stateside, you’re talking about Centro Ybor.
Ybor still has numerous historical architectural features of the cigar-making era, such as original brick cigar factories and decorative designs of the social halls of the factory workers. Today, Ybor City is designated a National Historic Landmark District. In 2008, the American Planning Association named 7th Avenue, Ybor’s main thoroughfare, one of the “10 Great Streets in America.”
The Ybor City Fountain (Fantastic Fountains, Inc.) is 350 feet long by 150 feet wide. There are four basins, each two feet lower than the other to accommodate the site’s natural eight-foot slope. Each basin pours into the next lower pool, allowing the water to be pumped from the lowest basin back to the uppermost basin. Each basin has an illuminated fountain spray ring adjustable to propelling water up to 12 feet high. The basins are sealed with black marcite, which give the illusion of deep water, when in reality the water is only 1.5 feet deep.
As part of an interstate widening project, Ybor City now has a new fountain and water feature, developed as the centerpiece of a welcoming gateway at the 21st and 22nd street overpass for those driving on Interstate-4, as well as an amenity for local traffic and pedestrians. The water feature is an aesthetic solution to mostly inaccessible leftover space under the interstate, surrounded by busy roadways connecting trucks from the Port of Tampa and local traffic.
The structural bridge piers at 21st & 22nd streets are wrapped in brick and precast concrete. This style was repeated in the noise walls and decorative fencing. A 2.5-ft. tall brick knee wall encloses the water feature, atop which is black steel picket security fencing for a total height of eight feet. The custom sidewalk lighting was conceived and detailed by the landscape architects to match the historic Ybor City five-globe lighting. The Tabebuia argentea trees are native to Brazil. When in blossom they have bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers.
Photo: Robert Lawson Photography, Tampa, Fla.
The FDOT property the water feature occupies is enormous. The fountain is 50 feet longer
than a football field and 150-feet wide. It
slopes almost eight feet from the north side to the south side along its longitudinal axis. It is surrounded by crushed red brick gravel, which visually resembles the brick sidewalks, but is pervious to rainfall.
The fountain equipment— a sand filter, chlorinator and centrifugal pumps to power the upright fountain jets—is surrounded by crushed brick gravel within a semi-recessed decorative brick wall beneath an overpass.
Surrounding the water feature is a 2.5-ft. tall brick knee wall, with black steel picket fencing for a total height of eight feet. This provides security and prevents casual access to the water feature area, necessary because of the danger of the surrounding roadways that have to be crossed to get to the fountain. The water feature consists of four large basins, each a solid mono slab of concrete, and each two feet lower than the other to accommodate the site’s natural eight-foot slope. Each basin pours into the next lower pool. Water is pumped from the lowest basin back to the uppermost basin for recirculation. The pool depth is
only 18 inches, but the basins are sealed with black marcite, which gives an illusion of depth.
The Ybor City water feature is an aesthetic solution to mostly inaccessible leftover space under the interstate after the road-widening project. Tall, majestic Medjool date palms are a graceful touch for the new walkway. Drip irrigation was recommended by the LA for all plant beds and trees because of seasonal drought and poor soils typical of roadway construction. Turf areas are
Photo: Robert Lawson Photography, Tampa, Fla.
Each basin contains a series of illuminated fountain spray rings. Each spray ring is adjustable to propel water up to 12 feet high. The water feature’s mechanical system, a sand filter, chlorinator and centrifugal pumps to power the upright fountain jets, is located under an overpass surrounded by a decorative brick wall, which blends in with the other elements of
The water feature consists of four large basins, each a solid mono slab of concrete, and each with a serrated overflow.
The city of Tampa brought in an artist to develop themed panels depicting Ybor history, including Cuban bread baking and the old cigar factories. These panels were later incorporated into the bridges.
The landscape architects were involved in the decorative lighting selections, colors of signage support structures, selection of structural wall colors, beam and girder colors, reinforced wall panel treatments, paving, decorative wall designs and fountain design.
This new streetscape and urban design water feature reconnects pedestrians within Ybor City and is a visual community asset. Terra Tectonics is proud of its urban design and landscape architectural work on this project and its contribution to the community.
Client/Owner: FDOT, District 7
Architects: Curts Gaines Hall, Inc.
Brick Work: Bickey Construction
City of Tampa Parks
- Landscape Architect Project Manager: Karla Price, ASLA,
- Irrigation and Fountains Manager: Mark Neuberger
Construction Supervisor: Joe Blasewitz,
Engineering: PB World
-Project Manager, Bob Szatynski, PE
-Project Design, Zouheir Farah, PE
-Construction Project Manager: Brad Post, PE
FDOT-Project Manager: Irwin Prescott, PE
-Construction Manager, Richard Frank
-John Simpson, ASLA
Fencing: Smith Fence, Inc.
Fountain: Fantastic Fountains, Inc.
Irrigation Design: Skip Colborn, ASLA
Landscape Architect of Record
Jonathan Toner, ASLA, ISA, Terra Tectonics Design Group, Inc.
• Birgit Kibelka, ASLA, ISA • Benjamin Mills, ASLA
Lighting: TCD, Inc.
-General Roadway: Kiewit Southern
-Landscape: ValleyCrest Landscape Contractors, Inc.
Pavers: Sun Pavers, Inc.; Reynolds, Smith Hills, Corp.
Transportation, Municipal Coordinator: Elaine Illes
Wilson Structural Consultants Incv