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Kyle Mercer

WJA Promotes Three to Principal Positions

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Wannemacher Jensen Architects (WJA) announces the promotion of three employees to principal positions. Firm principals share management of the company including enhanced responsibilities and more direct relationships with the firm’s success.


“We have assembled some of the best architects and designers nationwide who are dedicated to the success and development of WJA both in numbers and ability. It’s important that we give talented people opportunity to grow along with the company. This is a natural progression to elevate three leaders into the management structure of the firm,” said WJA Managing Principal & President Jason Jensen.

Joining Jensen to help lead management, operations, and vision of the firm as Principals are: Everald Colas, Erin Mcgonegle, and Harold Somarriba.

Everald Colas is a licensed architect and educator with over a decade of experience. Prior to joining WJA, Everald practiced in New York City, working on commercial, aviation, multifamily, cultural, and institutional buildings throughout the US, Caribbean, China, and the Middle East. As a designer, Everald specializes in adaptive reuse and ground-up projects that require a sensitive approach to integrating mixed-use buildings in a historical context. He is skilled in guiding clients through the process of finding their project’s identity within numerous constraints and helps to ensure that WJA’s most complex projects are distilled to their design essence. Everald is a recipient of the AIA Tampa Bay Garcia Award and is the lead WJA Architect for the James Museum.

Erin Mcgonegle is a licensed interior designer with over 15 years of experience designing residential, higher education, corporate office and municipality projects across the country. She served for four consecutive years on the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) VA/WV Chapter Board as President and Treasurer, and now helps oversee the growth and development of WJA’s Interior Design department. With a warm and personal approach to service she looks to foster genuine connections with her clients while guiding them through the design process and management of their projects. A Florida native with a Bachelors Degree in Interior Design from Florida State University, “creative co-worker heckling” is a football season passion with her Gator colleagues.

Harold Somarriba is an award-winning design architect and project manager. For the past 16 years Harold has successfully completed work for an extensive variety of projects that include municipal and private work in South America, the Caribbean, and South and Central Florida. As a project manager, he’d work closely with local building department authorities, owners, and contractors to ensure that project goals and design objectives are accomplished and maintained throughout various phases of the building process. Before joining WJA, Harold was part of the design team for New Miami Airport Metro Station. In this role he explored the notions of traced Velocity, City Edge, and Gateway as inspiration for the conceptual approach of the project. With WJA he has focused on large-scale municipal projects, while also serving in mentoring roles for young architects as they grow in the profession.

Founding Principal Lisa Wannemacher continues to serve in an advisory role and as part of the firm’s leadership structure and strategic/visionary planning – rounding out a team of principals that boasts a unique combination of perspectives. “We’re able to craft sharp, creative environments because we have sharp, creative people – and they’re from all over – we offer truly international perspectives.”

Currently celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, WJA has completed hundreds of notable projects throughout Florida, including some of the most influential projects around Tampa Bay. Over recent years the firm has expanded locally and nationally, and in several related service areas, including:

  • Design-Build – in conjunction with sister-firm WJCreate;
  • Interior Design – a long-time practice with recent expansion;
  • Entertainment – high-profile work, including Coachella, under banner WJEntertainment Architects;
  • Development – a burgeoning focus area with small and large projects in the works.

Combining the firm’s core work with growth in these ancillary service areas, WJA has doubled both staff and revenue over the past three years. This continued growth encompasses a larger geographic reach, a deeper talent base, and substantially expanded production capabilities.

With WJA regularly conducting international searches in recruitment practices, Jensen says the popularity of the St. Petersburg area and its business scene have been an integral part of those efforts. Colas noted the serendipity of his plans to move after he saw an advertisement for St. Pete in a New York subway, “People see what’s happening here and truly want to be a part of building this community – that’s why I came here, to do this, to work on meaningful projects, on a team greater than its parts.”

“It’s fair and it’s sensible to spread stake in growth – plus it’s simply necessary to expand management authority in order to continue smart growth of the firm and its several focus areas,” said Jensen. “Our people are everything – we’re thrilled for team members to grow and to take on bigger roles. We’re also thrilled to add in some way to the insight and spirit of the St. Pete entrepreneurial community.”

Art Basel Miami 2017

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WJ is in early concept design for an exhibit for Art Basel Miami 2017. We are investigating, with the use of technology, the redefining of the interstices between Havana, Cuba and Miami, Florida. We are designing two identical rooms, each with a projector, camera, and speakers. One room will be in Cuba and the other will be located within a gallery in Wynwood Wall, Miami. The technology will be installed in each location and synchronized to enable one-to-one scale dialog between the two cities. The exhibit exists to celebrate the rich relational history of the two cities and to celebrate our fascination with technology as a definer of interstices.





West Manatee Fire Station opens

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This month Wannemacher Jensen celebrated yet another fire station ribbon cutting (the firm has completed several fire stations, with several more in the queue).

West Manatee Fire Station 1 replaced an outdated fire station, while adding about 2,000 square-feet of space (from 7,696 to 9,500 square-feet).

The project involved the analysis of multiple sites; and the evaluation, design, and replacement of the existing station via the design-build delivery process.

The new facility includes: three apparatus bays, an officers’ office, additional office, reception, laundry room, mechanical room, data room, medical records room, and break room. Living quarters consist of eight dormitories, three bathrooms, a dayroom and a kitchen with pantry and dining. New unique features include fueling on-site and parking for eight additional district vehicles including emergency response trailers.

Last Saturday community leaders and neighbors joined fire officials for a public dedication ceremony and open house with tours, exhibits, and demonstrations.

Information about West Manatee Fire Rescue is available at:

Further info is available on the West Manatee Firefighters Association Facebook page.

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Pier Upland Project

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The St. Petersburg Pier District will create new experiences between St. Pete’s vibrant downtown and its expansive waterfront park system, the St. Pete Pier, and Tampa Bay

Wannemacher Jensen and partner New York-based W Architecture & Landscape Architecture are in the process of developing designs for the St. Petersburg Pier “Approach” (also known as the Uplands project, or the Pier District).

The Pier Approach connects the downtown core to the new St. Petersburg Pier with an active and seamless art-lined pedestrian promenade, offering flexible event space, waterfront dining, market venues and more. A proposed shaded pedestrian promenade will provide both access to the pier and a venue for pop-up tents.

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The St. Petersburg waterfront park system is the third largest in North America, encompassing 34 acres of city waterfront. The project will repurpose Beach Drive from the Vinoy Hotel to Pioneer Park, with walkable streets and an Anchor art piece centered in a Grand Pier Approach entry.

The approach will include a wide array of circulation options including the downtown looper trolley, the beach trolley, the ferry, and wide/consistent waterfront pathways. Construction is planned to start September 2017 with completion in September 2018.

Learn More:
New St. Pete Pier Updates
Pier Approach Presentation
Bay News 9 Coverage
Pier Approval


The James Museum coming soon

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Culminating from years of planning, Tom James (Executive Chairman of one of St. Petersburg’s largest and well known publicly traded companies) announced plans about the anticipated $55-million Tom & Mary James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art  – opening in 2017.

Wannemacher Jensen is proud to collaborate with Yann Weymouth and Harvard Jolly on this important and generous cultural contribution from Mr. and Mrs. James, to St. Pete’s residents and visitors for generations.

More than five hundred pieces of artwork are coming from the Tom & Mary James/Raymond James Art Collection. The James Museum will encompass the first two floors of downtown St. Pete’s 100 Central Avenue building, covering more than 133,000 square feet of museum space alongside mixed-use, public and retail space – a theater, a cafe, and community event space.


Mr. James has long supported the prominent and ever-evolving St. Pete arts scene in many ways, including serving as president for the Dali Museum Board of Trustees.

The James is one in a game-changing series of downtown Saint Petersburg renovations and developments in the works, such as the “One” complex across the street, the Central Avenue 400 block, the American Arts and Crafts Movement Museum on the other side of downtown, and the Pier District.

Much more:

James Museum website

Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Business Journal

83 Degrees



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