Architects want to redesign existing Pier - FOX 13 News

Architects want to redesign existing Pier

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A local architectural firm's concept for a renovated St. Pete Pier prompts two immediate questions.

1) What is the view through a mesh screen enshrouding the existing upside-down pyramid, and 2) how much does the building weigh?

Tim Clemmons of Mesh Architecture + Fabrication has a simple answer to the first question: Most people do not notice the insect screens commonly attached to residential windows.

The second question awaits an answer. Any re-use of the existing structure depends on the life expectancy of the huge caissons it sits upon.

Those questions aside, the firm has gone public with images of its concept.

"One of the things that happens to most people, me included, is somebody can describe the concept to you but you can't visualize it, so you need the pretty pictures," Mesh CEO Gary Grooms explained, adding he hopes going public promotes a public discussion of renovation. "There's a thousand different ways this could get looked at -- this is just our approach and our thoughts."

The Mesh concept removes the apron, or deck, that now surrounds the base of the inverted pyramid.

"To me, the idea of an upside-down pyramid over the water has always had this latent imagery of a waterspout, if you will. But when it came out off of the deck, you didn't get that feeling," Lead architect Tim Clemmons said.

The impact of a pyramid springing out of Tampa Bay is enhanced by moving the bridge to the mainland to one side. By re-purposing the pyramid, shrinking the bridge and deflecting interior build-out costs to commercial tenants, "We think we can preserve about $9 million for things to happen on the uplands, not 20 years in the future, but now in conjunction with this scheme," Clemmons said.

The possibilities onshore include a splash pad, an amphitheater and a rolling hill playground, along with an expanded Spa Beach.

Mesh Architecture + Fabrication claims all of the improvements fit within the $46 million now available to the City of St. Petersburg for a new or renovated Pier.

"The budget's real important because they've got what they've got and we've got a few million less than we started with," Grooms said.

The firm provides more details on a website devoted to the proposal. The unanswered question about the caissons awaits city action.

During the consideration of a replacement Pier known as the Lens, engineers took core samples and determined the caissons could support that much lighter structure. They did not calculate the weight of the existing Pier to determine whether the caissons can continue to support it.

Sources have told FOX 13 News the existing data would suffice for making that determination.

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