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Perkins & Will wins design competition for Riverfront Plaza where Jacksonville Landing once stood

The 151-foot tall piece of art would be made of structural stainless steel that rises and curves in a design estimated to cost between $11.5 to $18 million.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Perkins & Will landed on top of the design competition for Riverfront Plaza, a new downtown park that will go where the Jacksonville Landing was demolished on the riverfront.

The city's Professional Services Evaluation Committee tallied the scores of its members and the results put Perkins & Will as the first-ranked choice.

“The design is really about creating a park and a public space for all of the citizens of Jacksonville," said Christopher Counts, design principal with Perkins & Will. 

The scoring came after three nationally known firms presented their visions in an all-day meeting last month that showed how they would stamp a Jacksonville-inspired design on property that sits in the center of downtown and has been shown on national television broadcasts more than any other spot in the city.

“There’s a destination playground that we think it going to draw people from all over," Counts said. "It’s right next to the water and creates a lot of interesting water views, lots of shade, and we thinks that’s going to be a very big draw.”

More: Firms present designs for park at former Jacksonville Landing site in downtown

The park also will fit into the ongoing work by the Downtown Investment Authority and the Jessie Ball duPont fund to make the riverfront an attraction that draws people into downtown for fun and recreation.

The three finalists in the running were Perkins & Will of Chicago, Agency Landscape + Planning, based in Cambridge, Mass., and Olin Partnership of Philadelphia.

Perkins & Will titled its presentation "One Park for All of Jacksonville" featuring a large central lawn, playground, splash pad, beer garden and sky garden terrace. The proposal called for making it possible to stand away from the St. Johns River but still have ground elevations that allowed views of the water, and part of the riverfront would be curved inward to add another accent to the emphasis on the water.

The estimated cost of creating the park was pegged by the Perkins & Will team at $12 million.

Stainless steel sculpture to be part of design

Perkins & Will also unveiled a huge stainless steel structure designed by Jefre, who is based in Orlando and has gained a reputation for public outdoor art. The 151-foot tall piece of art would be made of structural stainless steel that rises and curves in a design meant to reflect "history and symbolic relationship" between the river and Jacksonville.

“We wanted to create something that was icon and that could be seen from the bridge, it could be seen from across the river, and it could be unmistakably Jacksonville," Counts said. 

The cost would be high as well, estimated at $11.5 million or $18 million, depending on whether the stainless steel has a "brushed" finish or the more expensive "mirror polishing." That would bring the total cost of the park and the sculpture to $23.5 million to $30 million. 

The members of the city's Professional Services Evaluation Committee for the design competition are Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer, Chief of Procurement Greg Pease, parks director Daryl Joseph, Assistant General Counsel David Migut, and city finance officer Paul Barrett.

Click here for more from the Florida Times-Union.