USF School of Architecture + Community Design Students Revision Marina Jack Waterfront

Todays News


Any visitors passing through Sarasota City Hall yesterday afternoon would have noticed the main entrance and lobby taken over with varying 3D-printed models and multi-material architectural site plans, representing a recognizable Downtown Sarasota landmark. Beyond the showcase of intricate physical renderings, the afternoon consisted of presentations from thirteen graduate students from the University of South Florida’s School of Architecture + Community Design. Each presented a diverse set of final proposals for the redesign of Sarasota’s waterfront at Marina Jack—a project commissioned by Steven Cover, Director of Planning for the City of Sarasota. The students worked under the tutelage and professional expertise of firm principal, Michael Halflants of Halflants + Pichette, a modern design-build studio with offices in Sarasota and Tampa. “I immensely enjoyed working with them,” he says, showing pride in the enterprising talent shown in the final projects. 

The designs envision replacing all of the surface parking on the waterfront with structured parking on the east side of Bayfront Drive. The thirteen individual site plans varied among students’ concerns, interests and skills. While some proposed recreational amenities such as a Mote Marine satellite aquarium, elevated bike/running trails, watersport and bike rental shops, integrating mangroves for kayaking and fishing, adding tennis courts, a revamped children’s playground and inground swimming pool, others focused on hospitality amenities, such as community picnic areas/dining halls, open food courts, art galleries, conference/event spaces, outdoor music venues and urban bungalows. Meanwhile, many of the young architects mindfully honed in on environmental concerns such as avoiding flooding and storm-surge rises, implementing sustainable build practices to any added structures in terms of airflow and lighting, protecting the present green-scape, not disrupting the natural assets already in place, working around the constant flow of traffic of Tamiami Trail and not obstructing the high-rise views of downtown buildings overlooking the Bay. 

“In terms of the existing Marina Jack, students selected in their schemes to either keep the building, transform it or completely replace it,” explains Haflants, after introducing General Manager Greg Corvelle to the audience. Corvelle, present for all thirteen presentations, remained actively engaged in each students’ proposal as they described how to evolve or adapt the dock and restaurant into their reinvented site plans. 

“In a cursory visit to Marina Jack, I really thought the food was fantastic, but I personally can’t afford a yacht, or spend an entire day out there,” Michael Stevenson, USF Masters architecture student quips to Corvelle. “So, I wanted to rethink what happens on that dock and capitalize on what else you can do out there—really pack it with programming, allow visitors to stay for multiple hours with always something to do.” Conceptualizing his animated project into what he dubbed, “The Island,” Steveson shared his vision while also addressing the lack of parking. “It’s really unsightly and not the most efficient use of space,” he says. “It could be a lot more activated, rather than just parking lots taking up valuable space.” By elevating pathways and adding a perforated bridge connection, at a max height of 18-feet, he expanded the park’s greenspace and connected the entire waterfront. Steveson also increased the square-footage of Marina Jack’s restaurant—transforming it into a multi-functional venue, including “three levels of fanciness, if you will,” he says. Different areas for dining incorporated an upscale wine bar upstairs, a casual bistro and an ice cream/coffee shop with open seating. Corvelle nodded, intrigued. The future of Bayfront Park and Marina Jack looks bright in the eyes of the next generation of architects. 

The students’ work is currently still on display, and open to the public, on City Hall’s ground floor.

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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