A jury has announced that Michael Maltzan Architecture is the winner of the international St. Petersburg Pier competition. Maltzan's winning proposal, "Lens," is a collaboration with Oakland-based landscape architecture firm Tom Leader Studio, and it calls for the construction of a sweeping, curved pier with walking paths, a water park, a tidal reef and an open-air amphitheater. But what's with the name? "The new Pier is not an icon unto itself," MMA explains in the proposal. "It is instead a lens that frames the City’s relationship to the water, changing how St. Petersburg views its present and its future." The metaphorical lens will be directed both towards the city and the water, providing views of the bay and bringing people closer to the marine life.
Sustainability is at the core of the Lens concept. In it, part of the structure from the existing pier will be used as the foundation for a new aquatic reef. Sea grass and trays of oyster habitat will be suspended between underwater caissons, creating an ecosystem where create mollusks, fish, turtles, and manatees can thrive. Maltzan estimates that the 2.5 acres of oyster habitat that the plan calls for will be able to clean as much as 20 million gallons of sea water per day. Additionally, the Lens will incorporate a series of micro wind turbines into the canopy of the pier, and an array of solar panels will be positioned on the northwest edge of the bowl. The plan also calls for a rainwater collection system.
Maltzan’s Lens doesn’t start and stop at the shoreline; where the pier meets the shore, another complementary loop will extend towards the city’s downtown. Nor does it stop at the water — a pathway will extend into the intertidal zone, disappearing at high tide into the water. At low tide, the Intertidal Pathway will allow visitors to explore the tide pools. The ambitious proposal also calls for a “flotilla” of man-made islands that could be used for bathing; other islands that would feature water-cleansing planted biomes; and an “energy island” with pools ringed by wind turbines that would pump filtered water into their center.
Twenty-seven firms entered into the competition to redesign the iconic pier, and in recent months the list was cut down to nine, and then three. The runners-up were Bjarke Ingels Group, which proposed to build a giant wave-shaped structure, and West 8, which pitched a round structure surrounded by a large sandbar. Construction of the Lens is expected to take one year, according to the Associated Press.