True Story

The Rise of Tampa's Unique Skyline

Most people probably wouldn’t think a downtown skyline can change much in a 7-year span, but downtown Tampa has been treated to quite the facelift since our cover story on the city’s high rises. In the June/July 2006 edition of South Tampa Magazine, we gave readers a tour of downtown’s most notable buildings, including the Amsouth Building, Rivergate Tower, SunTrust Financial Centre, Bank of America Plaza, Park Tower, Wachovia Center and One Tampa City Center.


Wachovia

It isn’t Tampa’s tallest building. It isn’t the newest either. It doesn’t have the most square feet of rentable space. Or even the best views.

Because of this, Wachovia Center sometimes is an overlooked highrise among a downtown of soaring giants. But it shouldn’t be. Much like many of its taller neighbors, the center, which is known as one of the friendliest and most easily accessible buildings in Tampa, is an exciting, architecturally pleasing structure rich with flavor and packed with a list of impressive tenants.

“I love the friendliness of the building,” said property assistant Bonnie Laux. “We really try to keep a friendly relationship with our tenants, and because we’re one of the smaller buildings downtown we’re able to do that.”

Currently Tampa’s 10th tallest highrise (it ranked No. 3 when it opened in 1985), the 311-foot Wachovia Center is Tampa's southernmost downtown office tower. Its striking bronze-colored facade, which is made of pre-cast concrete paneling and highly reflective rose-colored glass mirrors, generates a distinct shine when struck by the sunlight and is equally enchanting at night. The building’s southern exterior is unique in that it terraces up two stories per step from the 17th floor. On the northern end, one finds an indentation that runs nearly the entire length of the building. Near the entrance, a dynamic diamond-shaped window provides the center with yet another distinctive attribute.

Inside, the setting is every bit as grand.

The lobby’s floor and walls are made from a magnificent rose-colored marble (called Travertine Rojo) that was imported from Italy. On the walls, 5-6 lively pieces of modern art on loan to Wachovia Center through a corporate art program affiliation with the University of South Florida, add even more character to the scene. “When you walk through the front door, a big piece is displayed right there,” Laux said. “We change it out regularly, so it’s always fresh, new and interesting.”

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1985
Stories: 22
Height: 311 FT
Rentable Space: 391,000 SF

Key Occupants: Burton Schulte; Bush Graziano & Rice; Levine Hirsch; Old Republic National Title, Pender Newkirk & Co., Phelps Dunbar, UBS Financial Services; Wachovia


Rivergate

While it’s true the configuration of every Tampa skyscraper is unique, one could argue none is more distinctive than that of the famed Rivergate Tower.

For starters, it has a cylindrical design.Then there is the building’s remarkable limestone facade. And, of course, you can’t forget about its skyward-facing lights, which when lit at night can be seen from miles away, giving the tower a lighthouse effect.

“I think it’s probably the architecture of the building that sets it apart from all other buildings in the Tampa central business district,” said Michael Lerner, vice president of America's Capital Partners, which owns and manages the building.

The experts agreed. In 1993, the tower’s designers were honored by the American Institute of Architects.

Completed in 1988 and designed by renowned architect Harry Wolfe, Rivergate Tower is one of the world’s tallest limestone structures according to Emporis Buildings (one of the top authorities on highrises). At sunset, the façade produces an extraordinary yellowish-orange glow.

“It’s location on the river is unsurpassed and the ease of access to and from the building is better than any building in the market,” Lerner said. “The amenities that we have and will be adding, especially with the recent Malio’s announcement, will be a boon for our tenants.”

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1988
Stories: 31
Height: 454 FT
Rentable Space: 515,000 SF

Key Occupants: Bank of America; Malio's Prime Steak House; Sykes; Tampa Museum of Art.


100 North

When a bright morning sun strikes its dynamic outer surface, the 100 North Tampa building glistens like few others can.

Distinctive because of its shape and colors, the facade of this massive structure, which soars an imposing 42 floors above downtown Tampa’s bustling streets, is a polished Rosa Dante granite that comes all the way from Spain. Forty-foot granite arches frame the building’s entrances, pewter reflective glass panels cause radiant light reflections and a Gothic-style roof adds to a distinguishing exterior.

“It’s very unique, very classy,” said Julie Palmer-Nicholson, the building’s senior real estate manager.

And very big. At 579 feet in height, 100 North Tampa not only is Tampa’s tallest building but the highest on Florida’s west coast, just ahead of the neighboring Bank of America Plaza. It’s also among the largest in Florida. In fact, only one Sunshine State skyscraper outside of Miami is taller, Jacksonville’s Bank of America Tower.

To support such a structure, 100 North Tampa needs a foundation mat that is 9 feet thick and weighs more than 35 million pounds. Twenty-seven of the enormous building’s floors are rentable. The remaining floors house a massive parking garage. Not all rentable floors have the same amount of room. Floors 16-37 each contain approximately 22,000 square feet of office space, floors 38-39 contain 17,577 square feet and floors 40-42 hold 13,037 square feet.

Brilliant murals produced by renowned New York-artist Richard Haas that chronicle Tampa’s history – from the area’s early Native American inhabitants and the University of Tampa's beginnings to Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders – are centerpieces of a lobby that is both large and elegant.

From top to bottom, inside and out, 100 North Tampa is an impressive landmark that is anything but ordinary.

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1992
Construction Began: Late 80s
Stories: 42
Height: 579 FT
Estimated Space: 850,000 SF
Rentable Space: 552,080 SF

Key Occupants: Holland & Knight; AmSouth Bank; Ernst & Young; Foley & Lardner; KPMG International; Smith Barney


Suntrust Financial Center

From afar, two things about the signature pyramid cap atop Tampa's SunTrust Financial Centre are difficult to surmise: Its purpose and its size.

A trip to the 36th floor clears the air.

The mostly hollow ziggurat, which stands 90 feet high, houses the building's gigantic cooling tower and serves as a lightning protection system. Mostly, though, the dynamic piece is there for aesthetics. “It looks solid from the ground, but it's nothing more than a skeleton,” longtime building operations manager Art Bookin said. “Everyone is always surprised when they go up there.”

The cap isn't all that stands out. In fact, the building is so respected from an architectural standpoint that it once received a National Association of Industrial and Office Parks design award.

Ornamental framed windows near the tower's base give it a look unique among Florida's skyscrapers. The lobby, made mostly of exquisite Italian Marble, is a remarkable work of art that makes most do double takes upon entering the building. It took no small feat to install the marble, which cost $10 million to purchase and was found to have been overrun with Italian snails upon its arrival. Removing them took six months.

Built on a one-acre site in Tampa's central business district, SunTrust Financial Centre has 25 floors of office space and seven more for parking. The first floor houses retail. The second floor is home to a fitness center, conference room and an elaborate system of critical items, such as the building's two 750-ton chillers, which manufacture enough cold water to cool about 300 homes. The building has 13 elevators, 60 restrooms and uses roughly 30,000 light bulbs. The structure was designed to withstand 160 mph winds. It contains more than 40,000 cubic yards of concrete and 44,000 tons of steel.

“I like the fact it's different from the other (skyscrapers) downtown,” said property manager Arlene Moss. “It exudes class to me.”

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1992
Construction Began: 1990
Stories: 36
Height: 525 FT
Rentable Space: 527,237 SF

Key Occupants: Aidman; Akerman; CP Ships; Piser & Company; Ruden McClosky; Senterfitt & Eidson; Sun Trust; WestWayne


Park Tower

Tampa’s first skyscraper was a modern work of art.

Park Tower remained the city’s lone high rise landmark until other projects were completed here in the 1980s.

When Park Tower opened on 1.02 downtown acres in 1973, it soared nearly 200 feet above any of the city’s other buildings. Fifteen-hundred workers contributed to the two-year project, and some 7,000 tons of steel were used to push the massive structure to its height of 458 feet. Hailing its arrival, local newspapers dedicated several front-page stories to the building then known as First Financial Tower.

“It was actually the tallest (building) in the Southeast,” said property manager Mary Ayo. “It was the prominent building of its day.”

A Tampa Times article from Dec. 3, 1973 chronicled one construction mishap. When workers poured an estimated 20,000 cubic yards of concrete over steel on each of the building’s 36 floors, a large bucket used to hoist the material sometimes spilled small drops of concrete onto the street and, unfortunately, passing cars.

“There were some accidents,” job foreman Virgil Huff told the Times. “I could have opened a paint and body shop.” About 200 cars were struck.All were repaired.

Park Tower remained the city’s lone high rise landmark until other projects were completed here in the 1980s. The building was Tampa’s tallest for eight years until completion of One Tampa City Center in 1981.

“I think it has a lot of history,” said Ayo, whose father, Marcus Williams, worked on construction of the building.

Park Tower’s outside has a distinctive 1970s look, but that’s about to change. Structural upgrades set to take place in the very near future will give the building “more of a presence,” Ayo said. They include a lighting change at the exterior top, a new and improved entrance and the incorporation of the building’s famed brass time capsule (which now rests in the basement and won’t be opened until the year 2050) into a renovated lobby.

  

“There will be some noticeable changes, so we don‘t look so 1970,” Ayo said.

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1973
Construction Bega: 1971
Stories: 36
Height: 458 FT
Estimated Space: 508,000 SF
Rentable Space: 472,462 SF

Key Occupants: Colonial Bank; E Solutions; Federal Public Defender’s Office; Lykes Brothers; U.S. Attorney's Office.


Bank of America

Bank of America Plaza turned 20 this year, but because great lengths were taken to produce this remarkable tower, the 42-story building looks as modern today as when it opened for business.

With its white marble exterior, deep-green, dual panel reflective windows and a pristine landscaped piazza that offers one a place to unwind inside the city’s ever-expanding concrete jungle, this downtown centerpiece is the definition of elegance.

To complete the Plaza, developers Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and Paragon Group, Inc., enlisted the services of internationally recognized architectural designers, artists and landscape architects such as Harwood K. Smith Architects, Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates and Rudolph de Harak. The result is a modish complex known for both its stylishness and simplicity.

The white marble of the Plaza’s façade was imported from quarries in Spain. The building’s immaculate three-level atrium lobby, which contains a coffee shop and dry cleaner, was designed with a mix of African Mahogany panels and polished marble floors. Elevator lobbies are highlighted by marble and granite quarried in Italy, Portugal and Spain. “We’re unique to the other (buildings) because we have many more amenities,” senior real estate manager Chris Prather said. One of them is the lavish plaza outside the main entrance. The Bosque as it is known, is a living room for the city that features a shaded seating area, 38 oak trees and a sculpture that appears to float above a reflecting pool.

Unlike many Tampa highrises, Bank of America Plaza’s parking isn’t inside the building. Instead, a 15-story, 1,263 garage sits one block south of the Plaza and is connected to the building by a unique climate-controlled sky bridge. At 577 feet in height, Bank of America Plaza is Tampa’s second tallest building (100 North Tampa is 2 feet taller). But as Prather proudly pointed out, with 790,000 SF of rentable space “We’re the largest office building in Tampa. And the third-largest in Florida.”

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1986
Construction Began: 1984
Stories: 42
Height: 577 FT
Rentable Space: 790,000 SF

Key Occupants: Bank of America; Hill, Ward & Henderson; Trenam-Kemker, Shumaker; Loop & Kendrick, Morgan & Morgan, PricewaterhouseCoopers; The Tampa Club


One City Center

From afar, two things about the signature pyramid cap atop Tampa's SunTrust Financial Centre are difficult to surmise: Its purpose and its size.

A trip to the 36th floor clears the air.

The mostly hollow ziggurat, which stands 90 feet high, houses the building's gigantic cooling tower and serves as a lightning protection system. Mostly, though, the dynamic piece is there for aesthetics. “It looks solid from the ground, but it's nothing more than a skeleton,” longtime building operations manager Art Bookin said. “Everyone is always surprised when they go up there.”

The cap isn't all that stands out. In fact, the building is so respected from an architectural standpoint that it once received a National Association of Industrial and Office Parks design award.

Ornamental framed windows near the tower's base give it a look unique among Florida's skyscrapers. The lobby, made mostly of exquisite Italian Marble, is a remarkable work of art that makes most do double takes upon entering the building. It took no small feat to install the marble, which cost $10 million to purchase and was found to have been overrun with Italian snails upon its arrival. Removing them took six months.

Built on a one-acre site in Tampa's central business district, SunTrust Financial Centre has 25 floors of office space and seven more for parking. The first floor houses retail. The second floor is home to a fitness center, conference room and an elaborate system of critical items, such as the building's two 750-ton chillers, which manufacture enough cold water to cool about 300 homes. The building has 13 elevators, 60 restrooms and uses roughly 30,000 light bulbs. The structure was designed to withstand 160 mph winds. It contains more than 40,000 cubic yards of concrete and 44,000 tons of steel.

“I like the fact it's different from the other (skyscrapers) downtown,” said property manager Arlene Moss. “It exudes class to me.”

Quick Facts:
Doors Opened: 1992
Construction Began: 1990
Stories: 36
Height: 525 FT
Rentable Space: 527,237 SF

Key Occupants: Aidman; Akerman; CP Ships; Piser & Company; Ruden McClosky; Senterfitt & Eidson; Sun Trust; WestWayne


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