The Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa has become a signature facility for the city. The $13.5-million project was designed by Thomas Balsley Associates and RS&H.

Photo Courtesy RS&H
Photo Courtesy RS&H

The city replaced what was once the setting for an outdated art museum and turned it into a vibrant civic space. The park also connects the area’s two newest museums, the arts district and entertainment destinations.

The city hired RS&H as project manager and Skanska USA Building to construct the park and the two new museums—the Tampa Museum of Art and Glazer Children’s Museum—and repair the Hillsborough River seawall, the NCNB Plaza and a parking garage.

Having one contractor saved the city time and money and allowed for additional features from the park’s original master plan, such as a dog park, shade pavilion and concession stand. Work began on the park in July 2008, and the project team completed the transformation from an overgrown, underutilized parcel into a vibrant cultural resource in January.

Skanska assisted with constructability issues, phasing and cost estimates during design, and the design team remained fully engaged during construction, modifying plans for unexpected soil conditions and difficulty with construction of light masts in a section bordering the seawall.

The 8-acre site has a long history of development and redevelopment. Remnants of the old buildings and underground plumbing and concrete piers posed challenges. The team integrated those elements into the plan, filling and grading to create a level surface and then adding tiered seating areas that overlook the grand lawn. The park can hold 10,000 people for concerts and special civic events.

The park uses reclaimed water for irrigation. Drainage improvements reduce stormwater runoff, and the fountains include a water collection and filtration system

A centralized control system manages the park features, such as lighting, fountains and irrigation, thus reducing time and costs associated with maintenance. The playground also includes an electronic play system, which combines the speed and fun of video games with the dynamic movement of aerobic exercise.

Key Players

Owner: City of Tampa
Contractor: Skanska USA
Architects: Thomas Balsley Associates, RS&H
Engineers: WilsonMiller/Stantec, Walter P. Moore, TLC Engineers