Today's institutions of higher learning understand the dynamic nature and importance of partnerships, and the value of collaborating in all aspects of learning. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) epitomizes this premise. It is safe to say U.S.F. St. Petersburg would not exist today without the strong relationship and support of the city, the Poynter Institute and the business and hospital communities, among others.
Seating nodes along the Harborwalk feature extruded aluminum six-ft. long 'Austin' benches designed by landscape architect Robert Chipman, whose inspiration was the modern furniture of the 1950s. Tropical variegated flax lilies fill the planter.
From its relationship with the parent university in Tampa, to joint educational endeavors, to specific curriculum geared toward the needs of the community, U.S.F. St. Petersburg continues to form solid, lasting partnerships with its friends and neighbors.
This partnering spirit is really the theme of the university and the foundation of the design concept. A significant aspect of the development of the design for the university's central core was the removal of an asphalt parking lot, a small sidewalk and a plain concrete walkway. This made way for a beautiful, grassy area, bench seating, large fountain and lush landscaping.
Medjool date palms (the taller palm) are placed in key areas throughout the plaza for dramatic effect. The smaller palms are Christmas palms.
The alignment of the central open space, formerly 2nd Street South, is delineated by sidewalks of overlapping circular shapes, with intermittent plazas for students and visitors to congregate. The center of the space is aligned with the walk-through opening between Bayboro Hall and Lowell Davis Hall.
This alignment provides an 80-ft. width of open lawn between the sidewalks that terminate at the central plaza.
Open-lawn areas, a university must, is also found on a smaller scale on the east-west axis.
The alignment of the central open space, formerly 2nd Street South, is delineated by sidewalks of overlapping circular symmetry with intermittent plazas.
The center of the north-south space aligns with the walk-through opening between Bayboro Hall and Lowell Davis Hall, providing an 80-ft. width lawn between the sidewalks that terminates at the central plaza. Open lawns on a smaller scale are also on the east-west axis.
''In an urban context, especially in a university setting, a well-conceived dynamic open space is the key to setting the campus identity and character,'' explains Hunter Booth, a principal with Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture of St. Petersburg. ''The fountain at the center plaza lends a dynamic element to the campus and has become the central campus focus.''
The fountain design symbolizes the university partners (the outside jets) supporting the university (center pool), with the spillway representing the flow of knowledge back into the community. The water feature is officially the Debbie and Brent Sembler Family Fountain, as the family donation made its construction possible.
Booth says the four streams of water flowing from the fountain's columns symbolize the contributions of the university's partners. The water flowing to the larger pool represents the greater return realized by students, the partners and the community through this relationship. The columns-as-trellises represent the continued growth of the USFSP.
This is the upper section of the north-south Harborwalk corridor. Within the circular seat wall is a colored concrete rosette design, a Majool palm and bird of paradise. Empire Zoysia is the turf between the walks, and Floratam St. Augustine for the border areas. The new oak trees planted on the lawn are in keeping with the mature oaks on site.
The plaza is circumscribed with interlinking circular forms that create a rosette pattern of varied colors and materials, thus reinforcing the theme of contributing parts to the greater whole. The plaza and fountain area offer the opportunity for future additions, such as memorial commemorations.
The underlying theme of interlocking circles and interlaced forms represents relationships of shared knowledge and experience between campuses, faculty, students, the community and the world beyond.
The linked ellipses, as part of a greater whole, are functional, aesthetically-pleasing designs for circulation and complement the grassy open space, architecture and paving patterns.
The aluminum trellis architecture was designed by WDA architects and conceived by Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture. The close-up shows the detail of the support columns and trellis features at the main fountain plaza.
The new circulation pattern for the central core is a sculptural relief to the urban grid and rigid architectural forms found throughout the campus. The gentle arching curves connect the main north-south and east-west corridors created by the buildings, while helping define this primary campus open space. Secondary plazas are located at the center of the north-south axis and the east-west axis. The east-west plazas occur outside building entries, both existing and proposed. The north-south plazas are at points where the geometry of the open spaces and circulation converge.
These plaza nodes are scored with overlapping circular forms, allowing for a center space that could, for instance, have a granite or bronze inlay of poetry, quotes or other inspiring messages.
Brick stripping and bougainvillea decorate the main plaza hardscape and here at the trellis seating area. The concrete coloring is in ‘Adobe Tan’ and ‘Summer Beige’ tones. The trellis-mounted lighting is by BK Lighting, with LED spot lighting by Kim Lighting.
All of the secondary plazas with their rhythmic placement, repeated shapes, colored paving and symbolic meaning combine to complement the central core plaza. The architecture of built items are designed with those materials and forms which support the overall design concept and complement existing
The base of the main trellis/arbor architectural structure at the central core plaza uses the same brick found throughout the campus, and a metal trellis column with linked circular shapes.
The overhead arbor is sculptural in design with overlapped circles. The arbor casts unique shadow patterns on the plaza during daylight hours, and is a significant focal point when lighted at night. Both the trellis/columns and the arbors serve to reinforce the central theme.
The landscape treatment includes lining the main north-south walkways with additional live oaks to form a cool, shaded walk parallel to the open, sunny grassed areas. Mass plantings between the walkways help to further define the shapes and direct
The ''picture frame'' scoring for the plazas and building entryways makes for a clean, symmetrical look. There are 30 'Indirect' light standards (Architecture Area Light) light posts within the plaza.
Medjool palms are placed in key areas for dramatic effect, while Washington palms line the east-west walkways, working well in size and scale to accommodate the close proximity between buildings.
Paving for the walkways continues with the use of colored concrete found throughout the campus and the introduction of other complementary materials. The plaza areas incorporate colored concrete with varying finishing techniques, as well as tile and decorative control jointing.
Unique to this project is a partnership the university has for renewable energy sources with Progress Energy, the local power utility. This program, called SEEDs (sustainable electrical delivery system), stores solar energy in highly-efficient batteries that return power to the grid during peak times.
This mini-smart grid allows area light standards and emergency call boxes to run off the energy collected by this system before accessing conventional power off the grid.
The street removable made way for a Central Green. created as the street was removed
What was once a jumble of side streets and disjointed university buildings is now an engaging promenade and plaza that connects most of the university’s main buildings and showcases the University of South Florida campus. The wide sidewalks, grassy expanses, the palms and plantings, the 30 light poles, benches and seat walls and the focal water fountain all bring a sense of unity and purpose. It’s a functional and fun space that the community and the university take justified pride in.