Awhile back I posted a notice about an event in Tampa, Florida that I was the instigator of and a co-conspirator.  https://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2013/10/30/rivergate-tower-at-25-years-a-retrospective-celebration-of-an-architectural-icon/

Yes we held a 25th birthday party for a building. http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2013/10/22/architects-builders-plan-birthday.html


Crowd of architects, designers, landscape architects, contractors, vendors and fans of Rivergate Tower in Tampa gather on the evening of November 21st to hear a panel discussion and a feature presentation by the building architect Harry Wolf, FAIA

Why would anybody in their right mind do that?  Well I am not of right mind and this is not just any building.  Here is the back story.

Last year I submitted an article to an academic journal on this building, my experience working on it, and the subsequent decline of its interior architecture/design.  Well that Journal, published by the Interior Design Educators Association…(get it “IDEA”…..very clever acronym heh?) decided my article did not respond to their provocation http://idea-edu.com/journal/2013-idea-journal/ They declined it with such informative feedback as “this is a fluff piece…..”.  Fluff?  Really?
This was the first time in my 9 year academic career that I actually played my professional practice card.  I have been very careful not to rely on what I did as a practitioner to advance my scholarly work.  I wanted my academic work to speak for itself.  As one who has made the transition from practice to academia I can vouch that they are two disparate worlds and it is very difficult to exist and excel while dwelling in both. I have discovered that writing about an actual experience in design that was constructed and assessing that experience is different from writing about a theoretical design construct and hypothesizing what the experience might be like.  I have come to the conclusion that I am better at the former than the latter…at least that is my excuse and I am going with that.

So with that stinging rejection I steeled myself to somehow honor the building and validate my experience as a member of the interior architect of record design team.  The fact that the building had turned 25 and that Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University had nominated it for the AIA 25 year award http://www.in-rel.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/5fea9854-bc02-8209-7755-5033931c3662.pdf (since won by Piano’s Menil Collection)certainly added some motivation but there were other reasons for my conviction that this building, vis-a-vis our design effort, deserved recognition.

Controversial in its form but steeped in a level of design sophistication that few sidewalk critics can appreciate the building ultimately won numerous awards and press accolades.  Harry Wolf, FAIA was the architect http://www.wolfarc.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=10391&Akey=WXNQY2J6  and our charge by our client, NCNB Bank (now Bank of America), was to see his vision to fruition-whatever it took.  It certainly helped that we were young, we were energized by Harry’s vision and we were lucky that we were working for a bank….with lots and lots of money.  It was the late 80’s and America’s urban skylines were the battle grounds for high rolling banking and real estate tycoons trying to outdo one another.  What a great time to be a designer.


Harry Wolf, FAIA and Mickey Jacob, FAIA (2013 AIA National President) meet while Mike Dudek, NCIDQ of PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER.COM fame ponders his next move

interior team

The Interior Architecture/Design team for NCNB Plaza with Harry Wolf- 25 years older and still looking good.

But alas the past quarter of a century has taken its toll on the project.  The park-like setting designed by Wolf and renowned Landscape Architect Daniel Kiley has been stripped of its original beauty. Due to a series of insensitive owners the interior of the building has also been derenovated and altered in order to create some revenue out of the shifting tide of tenants.  This is why I took on the role of event planner- to bring attention to what we achieved and what it has become.   However, there is hope that the current owner In-Rel properties will be a better steward of Harry’s vision and our sweat equity. Lots of planets need to align in order for In-Rel to restore the park and the public spaces of the project but hopefully our little soiree in November will help that happen.

Kudos to my cohort Catherine Kreher for her local assistance and perseverance in helping me make this unique event happen.  I promise to start planning for the 50th anniversary much earlier.

Oh and P.S. IDEA Journal……Fluff This!


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