History in the Making

Hillsborough County, Florida
Tampa, Florida
60,000 square feet
E. Verner Johnson and Associates
Construction Management



Hillsborough County envisioned a facility that would highlight Tampa Bay’s history and become the focal point of an area immersed in culture.

The result was the first Hillsborough County-owned building to achieve LEED® Silver certification. The eye-catching facility, completed in 2009, is situated in downtown Tampa along the two-mile Cotanchobee-Ft. Brooke Riverwalk, which connects several of the city’s museums and cultural facilities.

Walbridge was hired to manage construction of the 60,000-square-foot facility (a separate contractor built the center’s interactive exhibits), and all subcontractors on the project were local.

As part of its contract, Walbridge built the structure and shell of the Tampa Bay History Center. The $19.7 million history center is comprised of three levels, each offering panoramic views of the Hillsborough River. In addition to colorful iconic depictions of the region’s culture throughout the history center, it also boasts a museum store, a 65-seat theater, research library, historic map collection, and a variety of exhibits specifically designed by Christopher Chadbourne and Associates to encourage visitor participation.

Challenges and Solutions

The very nature of the Tampa Bay History Center is to be a reflection of the region. The client requested a “green” building and expected materials to be sourced locally. In addition, building to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards limits the type of materials that can be used, how they’re integrated and also how they are disposed.

With that came the balancing act of building an eco-friendly facility within budget limitations.

The Tampa Bay History Center was built with all regional and renewable materials, such as Marmoleum® flooring (long-lasting, nontoxic linoleum made from all-natural components). More than 95 percent of construction debris was diverted from Florida landfills, which was one of many ways the Walbridge project team pursued LEED® points.

Walbridge spent a significant amount of time working on cost-cutting measures with the client. Drawings were adjusted so there was sufficient funding available to build green and still stay within budget.