Back in June 2019, Inhabitat did a story about Florida’s Water Street Tampa and its goal to become the world’s healthiest neighborhood. Fast forward to January 2020, and the ambitious 56-acre neighborhood in the heart of Downtown Tampa is making headlines again with its new cooling plant, one of the first buildings to open. The District Cooling Plant will produce and distribute cold water to provide sustainable air conditioning to most of the buildings that make up Water Street Tampa.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor attended the new plant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and said, “As our city continues to grow, we have to make sure we’re doing so in a thoughtful way. This district cooling facility will play a big role in reducing our energy consumption while we work to create a more sustainable and resilient city. This is a big step forward in the right direction as we continue transforming Tampa together.”
The project was designed by Florida-based architect Baker Barrios and spans 12,500-square feet of space constructed and installed by Tampa Bay Trane. It was built using 8,500 linear feet of insulated underground steel piping infrastructure and will concentrate noise pollution into a single building rather than separate individual buildings while it cools. Even better, the system is 30 to 40 percent more efficient than most traditional air conditioning systems while consuming less energy. The way that the plant is set up also frees up rooftop space that would normally be dedicated to housing individual air conditioners, making the neighborhood roofs available for use as shared amenity spaces for the residents.
The concrete masonry design combined with structural steel and brick pattern is a nod towards the historic cigar factories in Ybor City, a nearby iconic district northeast of Tampa’s downtown.
Photography by Nicole Abbott