Morningside Recreation Complex Opens

By | Construction, Uncategorized | No Comments

Earlier this month the City of Clearwater opened the doors to the newly completed Morningside Recreation Center Designed by WJA. The new 20,998 sf facility houses an athletic gymnasium, fitness center, locker rooms, offices and a large dividable multi-purpose room. The new recreation center was built adjacent to the existing community pool and shares locker rooms and offices for administrative staff.

To learn more about the programs offered and operations hours for Morningside Recreation Center visit the City of Clearwater’s website.

Social Change Center coming to South St. Pete.

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg has selected WJ to design and build a Social Change Center in South St. Petersburg.

The 23,000 sf space which formerly housed a 1960’s grocery store will be completely renovated inside and out. The new social change center will serve as a flexible venue, forum, workshop and office for community members and non-profit organizations to come together, share resources, develop strategies and carry out initiatives. The new Social Change Center is being designed and built by WJ’s design-build division WJCreate with construction scheduled to begin November.

To learn more about the project and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg view the official press release. 


New Fire Station for Plant City

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Earlier this month WJA completed the design for Plant City’s new Fire Station #3. The new 8,400 sf Fire Station will feature a glass bay to showcase the departments 1927 American LaFrance fire engine, 7 private dormitories, individual bathrooms and fitness center.

In an article published by the Plant City Observer, WJA’s Jeff McDowell, City Manager Bill McDaniel, and Chief Azzariti, spoke about the many features for the new Fire Station. The full article can be found here



Academy Prep Breaks Ground

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

On January 10th, Academy Prep Center for Education in St. Petersburg broke ground on their new $2 million dollar multipurpose building. The new 2,610 sf multipurpose building will serve as the heart and gathering place for the school where they will meet every morning for pledge and for various other school wide gatherings. The building will include a mobile stage, warming kitchen and large covered outdoor cafeteria.

The new facility is being designed and built by WJArchitects / WJCreate. Serving as designer and builder, WJ is providing comprehensive architecture and construction services, managing the development of the project from concept to completion.

WJA Promotes Three to Principal Positions

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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.



THEA Selects WJA for Kotfila Memorial Dog Park

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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”

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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.

New Visions for Skyway Marina District

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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.





© 2017 Wannemacher Jensen Architects, Inc. | All Rights Reserved.