Transforming Tampa Bay: A new Urban Lab at St. Pete Shuffle’s Cue House. Sent along by Bob Weber with Thanks!!

The Cue House.

  • The Cue House.
    For three decades, Tampa has benefited from the bright, open minds of USF School of Architecture and Community Design students who have taken the city as their challenge. From pedestrian bridges arching over the river to green walls bounding transit systems, fresh ideas from these students have stimulated thinking about local design and development.

    St. Petersburg has now rolled out the red carpet for USF SACD by picking up the $100,000 tab to rehab a 1,400-square-foot building in the historic Mirror Lake Park Shuffleboard Courts. This 1930s structure, called the Cue House, will provide studio space for graduate level community design research, thesis projects and design studios.

    Since 1924, the Mirror Lake Park Shuffleboard Club has been a fixture of the community, surviving both the Depression and an ill-fated attempt to make it into a parking lot in the 1970s. Now boasting over 400 members, the Club offers a hip gathering spot for movies and bike outings in addition to the Friday-night games. This Saturday, February 28, the Tweed Ride will begin there.

    Excellent matchmaking by Andrew Hayes — president of AIA Florida and a longtime champion of developing a St. Pete component of the USF program — along with St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman’s interest in community-building have resulted in a win-win partnership to locate the School’s first Urban Lab outreach program.

The space will be used as an Urban Lab, and later converted into a snack bar.

  • The space will be used as an Urban Lab, and later converted into a snack bar.

Raul Quintana, architect for the City of St. Petersburg, says that design drawings have been completed and renovation funding allocated, with completion slated for fall classes to be held there. “We see this project as a great asset for our community, both in terms of the renovation and activation of the site, as well as the innovative thinking from these graduate students.”

In addition to their donation of the space, St. Pete is providing two fellowships each semester for grad students doing work in an “Urban Design Lab.” The school will match the city’s contribution with two additional fellowships. This means not only collaboration on specific issues, but mentoring from city staffers such as Quintana.

Hayes explains, “There is great value an Urban Lab can bring to our side of the Bay. These graduate students can help with two issues in particular: planning for sea-level rise by helping St. Pete and the 14 independent towns along the Gulf create a coherent strategic resiliency plan, as well as conducting community-based urban design research on in-fill development and housing strategies for the City of St. Pete.”

USF SACD Director Robert MacLeod, AIA, commented, “The city has been wonderfully supportive. They’ve made it easy, and we are really looking forward to working with our USF colleagues in St. Pete — they know the community well.”

This rehab project is only the first step in developing a larger presence for the program. “Over the next several years, the Urban Lab will identify and renovate a larger structure for their St. Pete home. Then the Shuffleboard Club will transform the restored Cue Building into an income-generating snack bar,” explained Michael Jefferis, director of St. Pete’s parks and recreation department.

The Mirror Lake Park area was originally protected by a historic designation in 1994, and the city has partnered with St. Pete Shuffleboard Club in maintaining the complex. The Urban Lab’s initial location here will undoubtedly inspire strategic thinking about design and redevelopment opportunities for this neighborhood.

Adam Fritz, a USF School of Architecture graduate now working in the field, applauds the approach of “using the community as a test tube, applying ideas to real-life situations which makes design real. Our school emphasizes a building’s context, rather than creating icons. We believe in using architecture to create place… ‘Community’ is part of our title.” 


This entry was posted in 100th Anniversary of Shuffleboard, GENERAL. Bookmark the permalink.

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