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University of South Florida's "Monumental" NPHC Plaza Project

July 8th, 2019 by Bruno Arriola

It is not every day that I get to be a part of a sidewalk project that makes history, but the University of South Florida’s (USF) National Pan-Hellenic Council’s (NPHC) Plaza at the university’s Tampa campus is both “monumental” and historical.

Constructed just to the northwest of the USF Marshall Student Center, the Plaza is located in the center of the project’s sidewalk corridor is housing the monuments representing the “Divine Nine” black, Greek-letter fraternities and sororities in the NPHC. These monuments were constructed to celebrate the contributions to the USF community and educational institutions and communities beyond the campus. It is the first time a non-Historical Black College University (HBCU), built a physical monument to recognize the NPHC, allowing DRMP’s work to literally connect the USF and NPHC’s culture and traditions.

DRMP’s design services for the 650-ft long sidewalk supported the project’s goal to increase pedestrian traffic to the Plaza and across campus. We were met with a couple of challenges: avoiding conflicts with shallow utilities, providing ADA-compliant grades and dimensions, regrading of the surrounding existing surfaces to have positive drainage and to make sure there would be no unsightly standing puddles after a rainfall. We also incorporated BioBarrier – an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective herbicide that creates a zone that inhibits root growth to prevent damage to the sidewalk from adjacent trees in the area. We also made sure the plaza was just as inviting and safe at night with the incorporation of lighting and electrical design in the project to provide proper lighting.

To be honest, I did not grasp just how important this project was until I attended and celebrated the ribbon cutting ceremony along with more than 100 NPHC leaders, USF Administration, including Past President Dr. Judy Genshaft, and project staff. Hearing representatives from each fraternity and sorority explain their history and achievements through the years helped me understand the significance of the project and a culture I knew nothing about. Because of all the aforementioned factors, it made the USF National Pan-Hellenic Plaza one of my most memorable and enjoyable projects.

Bruno Arriola, EI is a Project Engineer in DRMP's Tampa, Fla. office.

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