USF turns fifty

Because I work on-campus and receive unavoidable daily reminders of USF's 50-year celebration, I can't say I know if the anniversary is common knowledge to the rest of the area. More than likely its impact ranks right up there with the football team's bowl game appearance.

Nevertheless the great impact of the school itself on this city is unquestionable, as a much-publicized economic impact report made known. So tonight's premiere airing of the one-hour documentary Green and Gold: A Half-Century of USF could be viewed less as public television self-congratulation and more as a piece of Tampa history.

Not that the doc is short on rah-rah moments, particularly during its unusually long focus on the football team. The middle of the 50 years don't get a lot of airtime, and the sub-Ken Burns style is a bit grating at times. Still I did appreciate the care taken to illustrate the university's place in local (first state university to integrate) and national (country's first university entirely conceived and built from scratch in the 20th century) history. And even someone with some knowledge of the place may learn a new tidbit or two (alternatives offered to the still-controversial choice of school name: University of Florida at Temple Terrace, Floral University, and - my favorite - the University of the Western Hemisphere).

Though I hope USF isn't being pinned to a life expectancy similar to humans, the school does seem to be undergoing a bit of a mid-life crisis. The 2005 Tampa Campus Master Plan was unveiled on Monday - more than 20 construction projects are in the works, a lot of it consisting of renovations (or in some cases, total rebuilds) to older buildings.

If you missed the documentary, you'll have one more chance (April 20, 4pm) to watch it on WUSF-16, or you can buy the DVD and companion book.

The residences of franklin street

this is the first in a series

When I was in architecture school (at beautiful Clemson University), I learned the Rule of Thirds for estimating how long a project will take.

Consider all the factors that could impact construction time, from permitting to material delivery to labor, and come up with a good estimate of how long construction will take. Once you have that date, construction will take about a third longer than that.

However, if you are clever and try to include that third longer, the Rule of Thirds says that construction will now take a third longer than your new estimate-meaning if you try to get ahead on guessing when a project will be finished, you will in fact never finish it. This is why nothing is ever done when the developers say it will be.

The Residences at FranklinA case in point is The Residences of Franklin Street.

This eight-story condominium project has 40 units (34 of them sold) and sits on the 1100 block between N Franklin and N Tampa streets south of Royal (blue marker #1).

The developers expected construction to take a year, finishing up in the first quarter of 2006. They missed-and by about a third. They should actually finish up in June or July - still plenty of time to get a jump on the rest of new condo construction.

That nice sweeping roofline contains a much nicer common room than. my place.