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KPF Completes Heron, A New Wellness-Oriented Residential Building Located in Water Street Tampa, The World’s First WELL-Certified Neighborhood

The first of its type to be completed in this new neighborhood, Heron features an expressive design inspired by the natural structure, purity, and vibrancy of Florida’s coral reefs, providing an uplifting and healthy environment for residents and a dramatic urban moment for passersby.

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) is pleased to announce the completion of the firm’s latest residential project, and first in Tampa, Heron, developed by Strategic Property Partners (SPP). Comprising two sibling towers with related but varied designs, Heron is a unique and distinct addition to the Tampa waterfront. Marking the beginning of the city’s famed Riverwalk and new Water Street Tampa neighborhood, the building offers residents a downtown location with a walkable urban lifestyle. Across both towers Heron provides 420 rental residences and amenities including fitness centers, lounges, rooftop club rooms, and outdoor rooftop swimming pools. At the base, the towers are connected by a retail podium with a full-service grocery store, restaurants, and retail space that activates the streetscape and draws visitors from the surrounding neighborhood.

Heron’s design is derived from the idea that the human spirit can be elevated by surrounding oneself with non-repetitive patterns and shapes, and authentic, natural materials. To that end, a defining element of Heron’s form are the towers’ balconies, which offer each unit private outdoor space. Angular shifts in the horizontal and vertical planes of these cellular forms reflect the varied scales of the internal spaces, so ultimately the units themselves serve as identifying characteristics of the towers. This animation replicates the organic, unpredictable quality of nature.

The innovative design minimizes the cladding of the building structure and celebrates the raw form and varied expression of the towers. Exposed board form concrete makes up the façade of both towers, with an imprinted natural grain that elevates the structural material with an organic, tactile quality as it wraps each balcony, becoming an essential texture that sets the tone for residents’ private outdoor spaces. On the retail podium, perforated metal screens shield an open-air parking structure and promote natural ventilation. Painted to recall Tampa’s rich palette of brick warehouses and historic cigar factories, the screens are subtly angled to catch the light and animate the façade at the pedestrian scale.

“Our design for Heron prioritizes the human experience, using wellness as a driver to define a new standard for urban living in Tampa,” said Trent Tesch, KPF Design Principal. ‘By integrating natural materials and textures that are both refined and rough, the building offers an authentic connection to nature, making those who enter it feel both grounded and inspired. We eliminated the typical façade cladding strategy, making architecture out of simple elements – concrete and glass for the towers, stone and metal for the base – to emphasize the pure, sculptural nature of the structure. This approach also highlights the non-repetitive, organic nature of the building’s form, which subtly varies to create visual distinction without stark contrast. With its bespoke materials and expressive articulated balconies, the project supports the aspirational goals of the overall Water Street Tampa neighborhood, while adding a striking and unique look to the city’s waterfront.”

While the 21-story western tower has a direct ground connection along Water Street, the eastern tower – taller, at 26 stories – is lifted 60 feet and perched upon a sculptural tree column at its corner entry. Occupying a prominent position at the intersection of Channelside Drive and South Beneficial Drive, this signature design moment enhances the porosity of the site and provides a memorable front door for residents. To emphasize the importance of this urban space, lush, natural planting extends the greenery of the Riverwalk directly to the tower’s main entry.

The angled towers gesture toward the water while maximizing the distance between the two masses to optimize daylight access and unobstructed views. KPFui, the firm’s in-house research and design team, created a computational model to generate and test hundreds of massing options, allowing for fast, informed decision making at the very start of the project, compressing into 3 weeks a process that normally takes 2-3 months. Working with SPP’s established goals for the project – views to the water and nearby stadium, as well as daylight to the residential areas and pool decks – the KPFui team built a data-driven, iterative model to test various orientations and angles of the towers to identify suitable solutions. Through an award-winning, custom-designed web app, Scout, the design team and SPP could compare the performance of the initial 400 options, ultimately proving instrumental in selecting the overall massing configuration for the final building.

Heron developed through a highly collaborative process with SPP, working together within a budget to realize a design built from simple, honest, local materials that anchors the southern end of the Water Street district,” said Jonah Hansen, KPF Director. “The generous balconies create architectural interest while greatly increasing the area of private living spaces and embracing a healthy outdoor lifestyle. At the base, the elevated corner of the eastern tower creates a public space that facilitates pedestrian movement and gives views from the new district to the water. The resulting design gives Heron a striking skyline presence that is rooted in efficient residential planning, maximizing the experience of both the public and residents.”

Reflecting the wellness-oriented vision for Water Street Tampa — the world’s first WELL-certified neighborhood — Heron is certified LEED Gold and includes amenities and programming designed to promote health and overall well-being. In addition to promoting alternative transportation with electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle parking, and capitalizing on the project’s location within a walkable and transit-served district, Heron’s LEED rating is a result of highly optimized mechanical systems, water-efficient landscaping on both ground and roof surfaces that reduce heat island effect, and a commitment to indoor environmental quality throughout.

Cecconi Simone, an award-winning, Toronto-based interior design firm known for residential and hospitality design, designed the unit interiors of the building. Raymond Jungles Inc., a dynamic practice inspired by the ethic of stewardship of the land, is the landscape architect.

Heron expands KPF’s portfolio of distinctive and contextual residential projects around the world including One Jackson Square, 27 Wooster Street, and 500 West 21st Street in New York, which evoke the rich, industrial characters of their Downtown Manhattan neighborhoods with unique formal and material treatments; Floral Court in London, which includes forty-five contemporary and restored apartments across six different buildings, three of which are listed; and 23-29 Blue Pool Road, which, with a design inspired by traditional folding elements from Chinese culture such as the folding screen, introduces a new residential typology to Hong Kong: the townhouse.

To download the full press release, please click here.