Tampa’s New Museum: Re-Made In The Shade

For too long there’s been a lot not to like about the building that is Tampa’s art museum. Too small, too inaccessible, too unattractive.

By the end of 2004, however, that will change with the scheduled completion of the $52-million, Rafael Vinoly-designed Tampa Museum of Art.

You’ve already heard about the makeover it means for downtown. I don’t doubt its impact and synergistic potential. Nor its egalitarian appeal as an urban-space retreat for visitors, art patrons and lunch-hour amblers and local passers-by.

I’m just wondering about the most recognized feature, the one that would share skyline billing with the University of Tampa minarets. That would be the “urban canopy” or elevated loggia of interlocking girding 100 feet above the museum — and extending north and south as well as out over half of Ashley Drive.

At night it will reflect light and should be spectacular as the gateway to downtown. It will probably merit the “wow” label mandated by Mayor Dick Greco.

By the light of day, however, I’m still envisioning the mother of all municipal carports.

By the shadows of day, however, temperatures should be lowered by 10-15 degrees. The one-word, daylight label may not be “wow.” But it may be even better. It will be “thanks.”

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