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St. Pete City Council Envisions Lens In Pier's Future

The St. Petersburg Pier International Design Competition has finally come to an end, reaching a decision on a design to replace the 1973 iconic inverted pyramid.

After the five-person jury named it's winner -- Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture's The Lens -- the selection went before the St. Pete City Council on February 2 and was approved by a 7-1 vote to move forward with negotiations.

“This isn't about finding a finished product, but rather about selecting the most qualified design team with the best concept to be further developed and phased in,” says City of St. Pete Architect Raul Quintana.

With sleek looping bridges and observation decks, The Lens is expected to feature an underwater reef and habitat, marina, dock, cafe, bait shop, fishing areas and kayak and paddle boat rentals, among other things.

An estimated budget of $50 million is expected to be spent on the project, including $6.5 million to demolish the current Pier and $34 million for construction of The Lens.

In an attempt to establish a local presence for the high-profile competition, Michael Maltzan Architecture teamed up with St. Pete's own Wannemacher Jensen Architects (WJ Architects). Ultimately, the team worked together to present The Lens design to the competition's jury.

“Our team doesn't proscribe to the Ivory tower mentality of some so-called 'Starchitects,'” says Jason Jensen of WJ Architects. “We first took the time to listen, getting to know the community and taking in the local environment. Only then did we begin designing a place rich with experience that will truly make memories.”

With the demolition of the current Pier slated for 2013, negotiations for the new design began on February 3 -- a process that could make The Lens a reality by 2015.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Raul Quintana, City of St. Pete & Jason Jensen, WJ Architects
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