Three years after the construction of the University of South Florida (USF) Sarasota-Manatee campus, students are now enjoying a new, beautifully enhanced courtyard. When RS&H designed the Academic Facility on the new campus in 2004, the project faced budget constraints, which eliminated many of the landscape design features originally planned for the U-shaped building. When the facility opened, the courtyard lacked amenities, such as seating, shade, and landscaping, thus was left underutilized by the students.
Longing for an area that could serve as the center for campus life, the Student Government Association (SGA) voted to enhance the courtyard to make it more “student-friendly” and worked closely with RS&H and the USF Sarasota-Manatee Facilities Planning and Management Department to design the outdoor space.
The team took what was once a minimally landscaped and under-used courtyard and turned it into a vibrant outdoor setting aimed at inspiring and bringing together students, staff, faculty, and the community. The enhanced courtyard features a tensioned fabric canopy shade structure with seating walls and planters, benches, a central fountain and reflecting pool, plantings, and young oaks throughout that will provide even more shade as they grow. Large trellises with blooming bougainvillea flowers cover walkways and are reminiscent of the Martin Luther King Plaza on USF’s main campus in Tampa. The courtyard borders a beautiful pond, which at its center proudly features a large raised bronze sculpture of the university’s mascot, bringing life and a sense of school spirit to the once empty space. The courtyard also features an open outdoor kitchen, complete with two large grills and seating areas, for special events.