Tampa’s Kiley Garden is closed to events due to water damage, again

Tampa — With nearly 1,000 trees planted in a checkerboard pattern, separated by running water, Kylie Gardens, which when viewed from above look like a tapestry, was once celebrated around the world as an architectural marvel.

But that changed when the original design was found to be flawed over a decade ago.

The floor of the park doubles as the roof of the parking lot. There was a risk of water intrusion and collapse. Many of the elements that made Kyrie Garden so spectacular have been torn or removed.

4 1/2 acre downtown city park next to Rivergate Tower at 400 N. As first reported by Axios, Ashley Dr. is again experiencing water problems and the event is closed.

The park and garage have structural damage and will do more without repairs.

“Kyrie Gardens is currently unusable…due to water intrusion issues identified through an exploratory assessment,” said city spokesperson Lauren Rozilla. We will not allow any events in the space until we have full approval from our engineers to load the top surface of the space.

What this means for Garage remains unclear. The Tampa Bay Times has reached out to the city for an update and is awaiting a response.

According to a city report compiled by Walter P Moore Engineering, the issue is related to the original fix.

A new waterproofing membrane was reportedly installed during repairs in 2006-2008. “Over the years the membrane started to break down, increasing water ingress into the garage.”

Not a cheap repair.

It could cost up to $11 million, according to the report, and “does not include the cost of retrofitting existing stormwater drainage systems or installing new systems to help drain water, and replaces garages.” No costly damage to the electrical system.

It won’t be fixed soon. It has already been announced that the Gasparilla Music Festival, which was due to use Kiley Garden in March, will have to find a new venue.

Kyrie Garden was designed for the Rivergate Tower.

In the 1980s, Harry Wolfe was commissioned to design a 31-story building on the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Drive as the gateway to downtown.

The cylindrical design is unique and unobtrusive, Wolf previously told the Tampa Bay Times.. He added spotlights to the roof to create a lighthouse effect, and designed the connecting glass cube building to mimic Tampa’s urban grid.

He did it all using the Fibonacci sequence. Each number in this sequence is the sum of his previous two numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.). These ratios were used to create tower radii, floor heights, dimensions, and window frequencies.

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Wolfe wanted a park flowing from structures employing the Fibonacci sequence. Only Dan Kiley, an architectural landscape artist who died in 2004, could pull it off, Wolf said.

“He was the dean of landscape architecture in America,” said Wolfe.

Kyrie Gardens originally had 800 crape myrtle, separated by lannels and fountains. Water flowed into the runnels and fountains from a 400-foot overhead canal that connects the tower to the cube.

To solve the previous water problem, the pool was filled with gravel, the water in the fountains and channels blocked, and the canal removed. The tree was uprooted to repair the roof, but never returned.

In recent years, activists have sought to restore Kylie Gardens’ original appearance.

“There remains the question of how the top space of Kiley Garden will be restored,” the report said. “The space can be restored to its current state and made available for events. The park may be redesigned for new opportunities to meet the needs of the growing community in other ways.”

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