NEWS RELEASE: Design and Planning Firm Chosen to Master Plan Sarasota’s 42-Acre City-Owned Bayfront

Internationally renowned Sasaki selected to create a comprehensive and phased master plan for Sarasota’s Bayfront

SARASOTA, FL (October 11, 2017) – Sasaki was selected by the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization to proceed with a master plan of the property known as The Bay. The selection occurred after an open and intensive interview process that involved 4 design and planning firm finalists shortlisted from among 22 firms who provided submissions in response to the Planning and Development Committee’s Request for Qualifications.

One of four firms shortlisted and interviewed at publicly-noticed meetings in early October, SBPO will invite Sasaki to formalize a contract for master planning services. Sasaki was ranked highest in professional qualifications, and criteria outlined for the interview, including:

  • Demonstrated capability and experience to navigate the opportunities and challenges associated with our specific bayfront transformation and development project.
  • Observed competence, leadership and communication skills of the design firms proposed project manager.
  • Observed design team dynamics and effectiveness including sensitivity to the vision and guiding principles established for the project, and to the expressed needs and wants of both the community, city and Planning and Development Committee during the interviews.

“Our collective judgement is that Sasaki would be the best fit for Sarasota’s specific bayfront development opportunity, and the best planning partner for the SBPO, the city and the community,” said AG Lafley, SBPO Board Chair. “Sasaki has successfully designed, planned and executed waterfront and civic public space developments around the world. They have worked closely, cooperatively and successfully with arts and cultural institutions going through similar transformations of the same scale. Finally, the Sasaki team’s enthusiasm and passion clearly connected with the community and the Board and created palpable energy at the interview sessions.”

“In talking with the community through this process, we heard many times that the bayfront is a great source of pride – a place that truly makes Sarasota unique and special,” said Gina Ford, Landscape Architect, Principal, and team leader for Sasaki. “Planning for its future will ensure long-term economic and environmental sustainability while enlivening the site and improving public access and interest for all neighborhoods and citizens. We are thrilled to build on the great visioning work already completed and help create a tangible master plan vision for this extraordinary site.”

Today’s selection of Sasaki as design and planning firm partner marks the culmination of a one-year pre-planning process by SBPO that included a very successful RFQ solicitation of world-class design and planning firms as well as a four-year community and city awareness-raising and engagement process that focused the community on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop Sarasota’s bayfront and realize the aspirations and guiding principles the city and community have agreed upon.

Four teams were invited to interview following the RFQ deadline of September 1:  Cooper Robertson, Perkins + Will, Rogers Partners and Sasaki. On October 3 and 4, each of the four teams spent four hours with the SBPO and dozens of members of the Sarasota community, discussing their preliminary thoughts on redevelopment challenges and opportunities, also demonstrating their capacity to engage productively with the SBPO and Sarasota citizens.  All the interviewed teams demonstrated talent, passion, and a desire to engage with our community. Ultimately, the SBPO reached the conclusion that Sasaki had risen above the rest.

“All of the presenting firms acknowledged the impressive level of civic engagement demonstrated by the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 Stakeholders in the development and adoption of the Vision and Guiding Principles.” – Michael Klauber

Get to know Sasaki:

Sasaki brings together the best of landscape architecture, planning, urban design, architecture, interior design, civil engineering, graphic design, place branding, and data science to shape the places in which we live. Out of our Boston and Shanghai offices we are defining the contours of place and redefining what’s possible along the way. Consistent with our multi-disciplinary approach, our work has been acknowledged with national awards from the American Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects, among others.

Today, we are a diverse practice of 270 professionals who share a singular passion for creating spaces and places around the world that prove human potential. The core tenets of our work are partnerships with our clients toward shared outcomes, meaningful and memorable community outreach, data-driven analysis, transformation through visionary planning and design, and well-defined implementation strategies to see projects realized.

We think beyond the building, beyond the site, beyond the grid, to design for people and for society. We are at once realistic, holistic, and optimistic. We create places that prove human potential.

Over the course of the next few weeks, SBPO will work through the Master Plan expectations and the design and planning team composition with Sasaki, culminating in the signing of a contract so that the actual master planning can begin before year end.

For more information, please visit or contact Mike Marraccini at or by calling 941-914-5324.

About Sasaki

At Sasaki, we believe in the transformative power of place. The places in which we live our lives are more than physical spaces; they are the context and the content of our experience. Today, simultaneous revolutions of mobility, connectivity, and identity are changing our experience of the world and, along with it, our relationship to place. Now, more than ever before, what we create will shape the way we live. Sasaki’s legacy is closely tied to America’s waterfronts. For over sixty years, Sasaki planners and designers have been reinterpreting these spaces for renewed economic contribution, public amenity, environmental sustainability, and creative programming. Recent work in this realm includes the Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, the Chicago Riverwalk, the Gulf State Park Master Plan in Alabama, and the Zidell Master Plan in Portland, Oregon.

About Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO)

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO), a 501(c)(3) corporation, was formed in 2016, building on work completed by the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 organization to advance the development of City-owned land along the Sarasota Bayfront. This private-public partnership is headed by a nine-person board comprised of trusted and experienced individuals with a diverse set of competencies, and is privately funded by the private sector and local foundations, including The Patterson Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Selby Foundation, Barancik Foundation and Berlin Foundation.  The SBPO is tasked with ensuring the delivery of a professionally prepared master plan for the sustainable development of the 42-acre Sarasota Bayfront in accordance with the Guiding Principles established by Bayfront 20:20 constituents which were subsequently adopted and approved by the City of Sarasota Commission. The SBPO will propose an operating structure that will professionally manage the Sarasota Bayfront Project during and following construction. For more information, visit