Students to have hand in arts center design
By JULIE CHURCH
© St. Petersburg Times,
OLDSMAR -- The Oldsmar Cultural Arts Foundation is offering students at five Florida universities the opportunity to provide the conceptual design for the foundation's proposed performing arts center.
The foundation sent a letter last week to directors of the architecture schools at the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida A&M, Florida International University and the University of Miami to gauge interest in a student design contest.
The foundation wants to involve students in part so it can qualify for a state facilities grant that requires community involvement, said Jan Sapiega, the foundation's building committee coordinator.
The designs also will help the non-profit foundation save money, since it won't have to hire an architect for the project's conceptual design.
"We don't have the money to hire an architect at this point," she said.
The initial concept could also be used as a fundraising tool for the foundation.
"By doing this we can create a master plan that will involve the public in raising money for the building," said David Wallace, president of foundation's board of directors. "We can say to them, "Here's what we're going to do.' "
The Cultural Arts Foundation wants to build a 20,000-square-foot building on 2 acres owned by the city. A building on the site, at 402 St. Petersburg Drive, is now being used as an arts center. While there has been discussion about demolishing the building, Wallace said the new facility will be designed to co-exist with the current arts center.
"My guess is that the new building will sit a little farther back (behind the arts center) and there will be parking all around," Wallace said.
About $22,000 has been raised so far. It is estimated the center will cost $2-million.
The foundation will look to the state for an additional $500,000 in facilities grants and anticipates asking the city to contribute to construction costs as well.
All student designs would be presented to the public before a panel makes a recommendation.
Once a concept is chosen, an architectural firm would build on that in drawing the plans for the performing arts center.
The idea of using students to design concepts for municipal buildings is quite familiar to Stephen Schreiber, director of the School of Architectural and Community Design at the University of South Florida.
"Competitions are a fairly regular part of design education and also in the practice of architecture," Schreiber said. "Our students have done all sorts of contests in the past."
The foundation is offering a $1,000 scholarship to the student or team that submits the winning design. In addition, $1,000 will be donated to the winning school.
The foundation would also like to find a grant to sponsor the winning student as an intern who would work with the foundation during the construction phase of the performing arts center.
"We think this is a way to build community support for the project and raise public awareness," Sapiega said. "Plus it can provide an educational opportunity."
- Staff writer Julie Church can be reached at (727) 445-4229.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks