St. Pete Pier
Landscape Performance Benefits
- Stores and treats over 405,000 gallons of stormwater runoff annually through a network of bioswales and dry/wet ponds before releasing it into Tampa Bay and avoids an additional estimated 56,300 gallons of runoff annually with 866 newly planted trees.
- Contributed to a 43% increase in continuous seagrass area and turned all tidal flat areas into submerged areas.
- Provides habitat for at least 90 additional observed bird species, as compared to 12 species observed during the 5 years before the new St. Pete Pier opened.
- Generates 195,000 kWh of energy per year through solar panels, saving an estimated $31,200 in annual energy costs.
- Improves thermal comfort by providing shade, with the energy budget of a park visitor seated in the shade measured at 50 watts per sq meter (W/m2) on average, as compared to a visitor seated in the sun measured at 196 W/m2. An average individual’s energy budget is considered safe when under 65 W/m2, and extreme caution is advised when it reaches over 121 W/m2.
- Sequesters an estimated 5 tons of atmospheric carbon annually and stores an estimated 47.3 tons of carbon in 866 newly planted trees.
- Attracts approximately 2.3 million annual visitors and serves both locals and tourists. On average, visitors stay for about 70 minutes.
- Enhances the recreational amenities offered by St. Petersburg’s waterfront park system by adding 8 new recreational functions, representing a 40% increase in the number of amenity types offered throughout the park system across 13 parks.
- Increases the recreational value of the pier, with 98% of 64 surveyed visitors who were familiar with the old pier agreeing that the new pier provides more recreational opportunities.
- Honors the history of St. Petersburg, with 60% of 150 surveyed visitors agreeing that St. Pete Pier raises their awareness of local history and culture.
- Increases sense of safety, with 84% of 64 surveyed visitors who were familiar with the old pier agreeing that the new pier is safer to walk.
- Allows people of different buying capacities to enjoy the pier, with 19% of 150 surveyed visitors reporting that they typically spend less than $10, 36% spending $11-30, 20% spending $31-60, and 21% spending over $60.
- Created an estimated 1,184 direct and induced jobs in the city, county, and region from May 2022 to April 2022.
- Generated approximately $4.5 million in adjusted total revenue for the City of St. Petersburg in 2021.
At a Glance
Ken Smith Workshop; W Architecture & Landscape Architecture
Former Land Use
600 2nd Ave NE
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
Pier Park: 12 acres; Pier Approach: 14 acres
Pier Park: $56 million; Pier Approach: $20 million
St. Pete Pier is a 26-acre park located at the center of St. Petersburg, Florida’s downtown waterfront. The Pier, comprising Pier Park and the Pier Approach, was redeveloped from the 1973 pier, which was a long concrete driveway with an inverted pyramid building housing a variety of attractions on the top of the pierhead. One of the new pier’s goals was to turn the waterfront into public space and create a pedestrian-friendly experience that supports a wide range of activities, provides health and wellness benefits, and contributes to the financial health of St. Petersburg by supporting local small businesses. The project creates a dynamic public landscape, leverages programming for a layered set of users, and improves public transportation to energize the city’s downtown revitalization. In addition, St. Pete Pier enhances the city’s resilience by strengthening its ability to recover from rising sea levels and increasingly severe storm surges. The new infrastructure includes flood-resistant features and drainage capacities to minimize flood impacts, which support recovery after 100-year storms and Category 4 hurricanes.
- Reflect the city’s history and ecology with the mandate to preserve the waterfront and make it publicly accessible in perpetuity.
- Create a landmark that is as symbolically inviting as the former iconic inverted pyramid when viewed from the water as it is from the land
- Create a destination for both city residents and visitors.
- Provide spaces and uses as reflected in the Pier Working Group Programmatic Element Recommendations such as recreational and educational amenities.
- Protect aquatic plants and animals in the bay and increase the ecological value of landside of the site.
- Provide for cost effective operational sustainability.
- Promote economic and financial sustainability through redevelopment strategies and revenue development.
- Integrate the pier into the fabric of the city’s downtown waterfront park system.
- Develop a pedestrian-oriented park system that connects the shoreline with the downtown of St. Petersburg.
- A 30-ft-wide coastal thicket is located on-structure, stretching in out in 4 segments a quarter mile into Tampa Bay. A series of boardwalks provide an immersive experience in the coastal native plantings, which include sabal palm (Sabal palmetto), buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), spartina marsh grasses, wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), reflecting Central Florida’s native coastal environment of dunes, mangroves, salt marshes, and estuaries.
- An expanded seagrass bed with turtlegrass (Thalassia testudinum), shoal grass (Halodule wrightii), manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme), and widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima) supports seagrass restoration.
- The renovation added crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) to the cultural grove planting area and preserved existing street trees including live oak (Quercus virginiana), Florida royal palm (Roystonea regia), wild date palm (Phoenix sylvestris), queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), cassia (Cassia bicapsularis), and Japanese yew (Podocarpus macrophyllus).
- Versatile seating options are provided throughout the park, including long benches, porch swings, café seating, chaise seating, hammocks, and seating under tree canopy in different areas of the site.
- The 64,400-sf Pier Plaza features a pavilion/café, and at the center of the Plaza is an interactive water feature.
- To the east of the Plaza and serving as its backdrop, a 19,200-sf sloped lawn (7.1% grade) is a turf grass-planted structure slanting upward to form a viewing platform of Tampa Bay.
- A 38,900-sf lawn bowl at the pierhead provides a sloped turf plane (8.7% grade) that is suited for looking back to St. Petersburg. 31 sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) were planted in the lawn bowl area.
- A crescent-shaped beach known as Spa Beach has an adjacent event lawn to the west. Viewable from Spa Beach, a new breakwater/reef structure along the north side of the pier contains native lime rock and oyster reef sections that reduce the erosive effects of onshore wave action, protect established seagrass, provide storm protection, and allow natural sand formation to nourish the beach.
- The educational Discovery Center has a broad terraced outdoor classroom that steps down to the water’s edge, offering a close-up glimpse of critical coastal upland and sensitive marine habitats. This setting unveils old piers that serve as fish habitats and support a large native seagrass community, providing insights into the local ecosystem.
- The existing entry road was realigned to the side, so that the central area could accommodate retail kiosks and pedestrians.
- An accessible waterfront promenade has tree-lined seating, shade, and views of Tampa Bay.
- In the Pier Approach, a gateway plaza with open-air market, powered by solar panels, has permanent vendor stalls along the active spine.
- 5 ponds covering 21.64 acres along with 2 swales were added to improve sustainable stormwater management in the Pier Approach area.
- A tram system was introduced across the Pier Approach and out to Pier Park with 3 free trams and 4 tram stops. Each tram can carry up to 46 passengers and is capable of catering to the needs of people using wheelchairs or walkers. The tram system operates daily from 9:00am to 11:00pm.
- An art walk includes pieces from nationally recognized artists such as Bending Arc (Janet Echelman), First Flight (Mark Aeling), Myth (Nathan Mabry), Morning Stars (Xenobia Bailey), and Olnetopia (Nick Ervinck).
St. Petersburg, Florida, has been graced by the iconic presence of a pier for over a century. The avant-garde Inverted Pyramid, designed by William Harvard, Sr., previously stood on the pier since 1973. This unique structure served as a public gathering spot, offering panoramic views of Tampa Bay. However, in 2013, the Pyramid closed its doors, marking the beginning of a transformational journey. Before the current design was conceived, there was a strong preference among St. Petersburg residents to retain the original inverted pyramid structure. As part of the design competition, a local team proposed to “reimagine” the inverted pyramid, modernizing it and surrounding it with multi-level decks. This concept, named “Destination St. Pete Pier,” resonated with many.
However, not all proposals aimed to retain the pyramid. Among the finalists, “Pier Park” and “Blue Pier” proposed entirely different designs. The winning design, Pier Park, was lauded for its idea of creating a park, offering an alternative approach to the existing structure. Blue Pier, on the other hand, was more controversial, proposing lagoons, artificial reefs, and dunes.
The role of the landscape architect in the Pier Park design played a pivotal role in the design competition win by integrating Tampa Bay’s natural beauty with functional spaces, ensuring shaded areas for visitors. The new pier does not just represent a physical structure; it is a district with dining and shopping options, art installations, a family park, and more. Furthermore, the Pier Park design’s emphasis on using native species and protecting seagrass and wildlife garnered support from residents and environmental organizations, also contributing to the win.
- The site has a series of terraces that go down to the lower deck at the far end of the pier, enabling people to get close to the water and fish. The stepped terraces with a diagonal ramp cutting through them create a tripping hazard when people cannot see the steps properly. Seat inserts were used to boost seating higher than the terraces and create a visual distinction between the ramp and the steps and mitigate tripping hazards.
- The site previously had several turf lawn areas that were often worn out by heavy utilization, so synthetic turf was implemented in those high-use areas in order to withstand foot traffic.
- Local plants were used on the site to make it more hurricane resilient. During Hurricane Ian, the pier only lost one sea grape plant and two sable trees, and they were replaced quickly because they were easily obtained at local nurseries.
Outdoor Furniture: Loll Designs
Catenary Lighting and Structures: Ronstan Tensile Architecture
Paving: Hubbard Construction Company
Metal Panels: MG McGrath
Curtain Wall: Tristar Glass
Rainscreen: Mataverde, Novawood (Climate-Shield)
Built-Up Roofing: FiberTite
Doors: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (entrances), Cline (metal doors), Overhead Door (special doors)
Hardware: Von Duprin (locksets, exit devices), Schlage (locksets), LCN (closers), Hager (pulls), ASSA ABLOY, Ives (special hardware)
Bending Arc art installation: Janet Echelman
Solar PV panel: Brilliant Harvest
Design Landscape Architect for Pier: Ken Smith Workshop
Executive Landscape Architect for Pier: Booth Design Group
Client: City of St. Petersburg
Design Architect: Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers
Executive Architect: ASD SKY
Lighting Design: Renfro Design Group
Design Structural Engineering and Marine Engineering: Thornton Tomasetti
Structural and MEPS Engineering: TLC Engineers
Civil, Marine, and Environmental Consultants: Stantec
Coastal Engineer: Humiston and Moore Engineers
Geotechnical Engineer: Terracon
Fire Protection and Life Safety Code Consultant: FP&C Consultants, Inc.
Environmental Permitting: Landon Moree
Construction Manager: SKANSKA
Client: City of St Petersburg; Raul Quintana, City Architect
Prime Consultant and Lead Designer: W Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Architect of Record: Wannemacher Jensen Architects
Landscape Architect of Record: Kimley Horn Civil and Structural Engineers
Playground Consultant: Earthscape
Lighting Consultant & Structural Engineer for Art: Arup
Electrical Engineers and Security: VoltAir
Artist: Janet Echelman “Bending Arc” (net)
Artist: Xenobia Bailey, “Morning Stars” (mosaic)
Artist: Nathan Mabry, “Myth” (red pelicans)
Artist: Mark Aeling, MGA Sculpture Studio, Benoist Memorial
Construction Manager: SKANSKA
Role of the Landscape Architect
St. Pete Pier consists of two projects: Pier Park and Pier Approach. For Pier Park, the landscape architect (Ken Smith Workshop) teamed with the design architect (Rogers Partners + Urban Designers) to enter the competition to replace the previous pier. After winning the competition, the landscape architect was actively involved in project design and leadership of every phase of the design process through construction of Pier Park.
A second landscape architect (W Architecture & Landscape Architecture) was commissioned to design the Pier Approach in accordance with the City’s Downtown Waterfront Master Plan. To ensure the park’s design catered to the public’s needs, the landscape architect conducted stakeholder interviews and organized a series of public meetings to gather valuable insights before developing the conceptual design. Subsequently, a local design firm (Kimley-Horn) was engaged by the design landscape architect to finalize the design and oversee the construction phase. Collaboration between the two firms ensured the successful completion of the Pier Approach.