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USF sponsors Riverwalk design competition

Hillsborough County leaders hope a new competition will help integrate the Hillsborough River back to the heart of Tampa.

The design competition [re]stitch Tampa, which launched Thursday, allows aspiring architects to submit design proposals for connecting, or “stitching,” the separate walkways along the Tampa riverfront area into one long “Riverwalk.” The new River Walk would connect from Channelside to the edge of the Tampa Armature Works building located on West Oak Avenue.

Shannon Bassett, assistant professor of architecture and urbanism at USF and the creator of the [re]stitch competition, said the designs will be classified as Landscape Urbanism. The designs have to take public spaces into account and use them in a way that encourages people to actively engage with the river, she said.

“We want a design that keeps the biodiversity of the river and is dynamic enough to accommodate a lot of different usages,” Bassett said. “One of the things I noticed when I moved here was that you really have no sense that there’s a river that runs through the city. It’s an incredible amenity.”

The goal of the new USF-sponsored competition is to bring people’s attention back to the river and breathe new life into the city the same way San Antonio did with its River Walk.

Construction of the San Antonio River Walk began in 1939, and it soon became an important part of the city as it brought money in from restaurants and establishments built around it, according to

Lee Hoffman, the Riverwalk Development Manager, said he wants downtown Tampa and the city’s waterfront to work together.

“It’s good for the city to be connected in a greater way because of all the businesses in central downtown,” he said. “If we have events on the waterfront, that brings hundreds of thousands of people – they will flood the downtown (area) and everyone does better.”

The first meeting for [re]stitch at the Tampa Museum of Art, and registration for the competition, which is open to the public, began the same day online at Entries are due in December on a date yet to be announced.

Winners of the first stage of judging, conducted by local stakeholders, will move on to the final stage of the competition. Winners of the overall competition will receive prize money and see their design for the area realized.