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Wannemacher Jensen Architects

THEA Selects WJA for Kotfila Memorial Dog Park

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The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) has selected WJA and LEMA Construction to serve as Architect and Construction Manager (respectively) for the Deputy John Kotfila Jr. Memorial Dog Park in downtown Tampa. The park will transform about 20,000 square-feet under the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to memorialize the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy who heroically lost his life last March.

With ample room for large and small dogs to stretch, run and play, the park will use innovative K9Grass, an artificial turf designed for pets. Unlike generic artificial grass, K9Grass is more realistic and won’t hurt paws of smaller breeds. Highlights also include: water fountains with built-in pet bowls, large circular bench-style seating, and a memorial garden and monument that will stand as tribute to the hero deputy – a solemn reminder of his bravery and sacrifice.

Opening this March, the park is located between Raymond Street and 12th Street, at the northern end of the Channel District.

We are honored to play a role in this meaningful project.

About Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority:

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is an independent agency of the State, which provides innovative tolling transportation solutions to the Tampa Bay region. More information is available at

About LEMA Construction:

LEMA Construction is a forward-thinking construction management and general contracting firm specializing in superior, sustainable projects for the higher education, healthcare, and commercial markets. Founded in 2005, LEMA Construction has helped create some of Tampa Bay’s most iconic spaces and structures. Our LEED AP certified staff takes pride in their contribution to crafting a sustainable community for future generations. More information is available at

Jensen talks smart design with “Dean of Big Data”

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From local schools to the world’s largest companies, today’s design solutions more often involve dynamic/malleable spaces – with mobile and multifunctional elements that allow customizable configurations. Designers must bring informed perspectives and innovative mindsets – considering possibilities of every nook of space – to address different needs and purposes, and fit different styles and situations.

Practical to stimulating, sometimes disruptive, awareness-nudging spaces can help spur unexpected experiences, new collaborations, mindfulness and innovations.

Jason Jensen recently discussed these topics with uncle-in-law and Chief Technology Officer for Dell EMC Services, Bill Schmarzo. Schmarzo’s predominant focus on Big Data sparked interest in Jensen’s perspectives on smart entities and agile design, which resulted in this blog post by Schmarzo, where he astutely articulates how “agile design supports the execution of smart.”

Schmarzo touches on machine learning as an actuator that helps make adjustments in a range of critical processes throughout daily life – and changing needs and roles of human actuators. From workflow innovations and communications, to health and well-being, a smart design is deeply considerate of those that experience the space – along with the community, environment, and/or industry in which it lives.

To do this effectively, a design team must immerse itself in the client’s practices and culture. We need to know how museums and city halls and fire stations work – what their people need and want, combined with the analytical data – to be able to create appropriate, comfortable, stimulating, productive, and highly functional spaces.

Schmarzo writes, “In the design of a smart classroom, according to Jason, the first step in creating a smart school is to divorce teachers from their classroom ownership.”

“In designing a smart classroom, the classroom is no longer defined by the teacher who occupies the classroom. Instead, the students and the type of learning and teacher-to-student interactions that are occurring in that space define the smart classroom. If a classroom subject requires small workgroups, then teacher creates a group study area. If the classroom subject requires individual lessons, then the classroom needs to be able to be morphed into a study area with various seating options where the students can define their optimal learning environment.”

From learning patterns per subject matter and teacher/student styles, to, yes, types of chairs – design recommendations and specifics should come from exhaustive data gathering and the resulting analytics to inform the team’s critical thinking and purposeful decision-making throughout the design process. More here.

Top Design Award for Madeira City Hall

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Top architecture award goes to Wannemacher Jensen for transformative Madeira Beach City Hall

The Dean Rowe Award is AIA Tampa Bay’s highest annual design honor

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (November 21, 2016) — Tampa Bay’s chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded St. Petersburg-based Wannemacher Jensen Architects (WJA) with the region’s highest design honor at its flagship annual event this month.

The H. Dean Rowe, FAIA Award for Design Excellence recognized WJA’s design of the acclaimed Madeira Beach City Hall. Notably, a city hall had never won any design award in the Tampa Bay region. Arguably the most compelling city hall around Tampa Bay, the 14-acre municipal complex also includes a fire station, recreation center, and large community park and event space.

The jury commented: “Civic presence with simple modern materials and forms. Project beautifully engages the site with strong parti. Creates a grand civic experience on a tight civic budget.”

Jason Jensen said: “It’s often difficult to do inspiring civic design – politics can easily get in the way – but Madeira leaders have a vision for a truly unique destination.”

Project Manager Harold Somarriba said: “The project provided opportunity to weave large multi-use public space with core civic activity. The highly functional municipal structure blends with parkland to form a community center. It fosters new relationships between public space and public service, allowing exterior circulation to be used by all as event spaces.”

The award was presented to the Madeira Board of Commissioners on December 13.

About the Dean Rowe Award for Design Excellence

Recognizing built projects by licensed individuals or firms from any category, the highest honor for design excellence awarded by AIA Tampa Bay is named for the late H. Dean Rowe, FAIA – an award-winning designer and mentor to many of Tampa’s talented architects. Each year, AIA Tampa Bay honors architects, philanthropists, public servants, and organizations committed to improving communities through design excellence, and for outstanding accomplishments and service to the architecture profession and the community.

About AIA Tampa Bay

AIA (American Institute of Architects) Tampa Bay is the professional association for architects and the architecture field. AIA Tampa Bay is the regional chapter representing approximately 650 members in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter and Pasco Counties. The AIA provides programs and services including educational programs, design competitions, community service programs and serves as the united voice of the architecture profession. The regional chapter office is located in Ybor City.

More about the Madeira Beach City Hall complex

The City of Madeira Beach is making leaps in its continued evolution as the unofficial progressive flagship of Pinellas County beach cities. Designers sought to create an atmosphere that might inspire new perspectives or ideas, or even encourage new people to take part in municipal meetings and get engaged with the local government of a small forward-thinking city.

The 14-acre complex brings a litany of new opportunities and amenities for the public as well as public servants. The waterfront Recreation Center, City Hall and Fire Station were designed as a community park complex with civic presence.

Inspiration drew from aspects of nature, fitness, outdoor activity and waterfront views. The new city hall’s basic program requirements include office areas, building department services, commission chamber, multipurpose room, a small gym, and a covered boardwalk.

With use of extensive Low-E glass, flexible interior office space, covered exterior circulation, and an elevated structure; the building promotes opportunities to reduce energy consumption, actively engage with the outdoor environment, and promote wellness for city staff and the general public in a positive and familiar atmosphere. This city hall is truly for all residents to play, work, and govern.

The buildings were designed for maximum efficiency, while taking advantage of the full waterfront exposure for both the new city hall and recreation center. Floor to ceiling windows in the multi-purpose room and fitness center offer waterfront views, as do the city hall offices. A covered boardwalk fronts the city hall entrance, then wraps around to create a deck behind the multi-purpose building. The special event spaces are all adjacent to the water.

The commission chamber is available to residents for community events. The chamber is extracted from the typical interior location and is exposed as a transparent volume that serves both as a place of civic engagement and as a lantern that invitespeople to the expansive park and waterfront edge.

A permanent stage and concert area has attracted such acts as Sugar Ray, Boy George with Culture Club, Everclear, and The Wailers. Three baseball/softball fields, two tennis courts, and a basketball court each have water views. R.O.C. Park, initiated by nonprofit Remember Our Children, features paved walkways, fountains, engraved stones, a “Lock Palm Tree” and sitting areas spread throughout. A reflection area looks over the waters of Boca Ciega Bay, and the liveliness of the recreation center and patrons enjoying the grounds foster a positive and familial atmosphere.

The former city hall was about 50-years-old when demolished in 2014. The City of Madeira Beach opened its new City Hall in 2015. The complex is designed to last 75 years.

Info and images available at:

Additional images and materials readily available.

More at:

New Visions for Skyway Marina District

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Jason Jensen presented WJA’s “Design Guidelines” for the Skyway Marina District in a public meeting this month at the District’s St. Petersburg College campus.

The 75-page image-rich document includes recommendations and examples to serve as a helpful guide for developers, design professionals, city planners, project applicants, and the general community and public. The guide is largely related to the District’s revitalized notoriety, and robust plans for development, along with generally bullish sentiment about the community.

Jensen said, “The Skyway District is a unique destination on St. Petersburg’s waterfront with a strong mix of retail, residential, office, and boating. This vision has great potential to establish the District as a premier community and create a recognizable southern gateway to St. Pete and Boca Ciega Bay.”

“The guidelines take style cues from yachts and sailboats, embracing the waterfront environment. A pedestrian emphasis includes streetscape improvements, trails, shade, and outdoor seating. Overall, this guide will help developers relate with each other and reinforce contemporary architecture and lifestyle.”

With extensive design and style recommendations, some broad-stroke themes involve:

  • St. Petersburg’s reputation as a place that values art and culture.

“The Skyway Marina District has many opportunities to further embrace and implement this into their own design. Energizing the public realm through art.”

  • Preserving beautiful landscape, rich wildlife, and the multitude of resources.

“Proper planning and support can facilitate an easy transition for a growing community to implement sustainable practices and create a happy, healthy community.”

  • Inspiration from yacht and boat architecture blending with the coastal atmosphere.

“Look to transparency, elegant curves, crisp edges, and refined minimalism.”

Imagery offers examples of design practices, materials, and ideas – from bird-safe windows/lights and native landscaping, to wifi and charging stations for bikes, cars, and electronics – full design guide here.

Further info is available on the Skyway Marina District’s website and Facebook page.





Coopers Point Observation Tower designed as part of nature

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Zoom-in-with-Weedon-copy-1024x791Between Bayshore Blvd. and Tampa Bay lies Coopers Point Bayou Park. Home to a kayak launch, mangroves, paved walking trails and a lake, many consider it an oasis in Safety Harbor just outside bustling downtown Tampa.

As part of the long term master plan to make Cooper’s Point peninsula more accessible, Wannamacher Jensen Architects designed a new observation tower to provide access to nature.

The tower will become one with the landscape while providing views of Tampa Bay, Cooper’s Bayou, as well as the preserve area.  Through the use of a porous skin cladding, the tower has the ability to provide shade and shadow from the intensity of the Florida sun, while creating spaces for birding, relaxation, and education.





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