Rivergate Tower

LOCATION:  400 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

CLIENT:  North Carolina National Bank


BUILT:  1988

SIZE:  32 floors, 454 feet tall

COST:  $150,000,000

ORIGINAL FUNCTION:  North Carolina National Bank Headquarters


Rivergate Tower was constructed from 1986 to 1988.  It is a 454ft tall skyscraper with 32 floors and is the sixth tallest building in Tampa and one of the tallest limestone buildings in the world.   Its cylindrical shape was meant to symbolize a lighthouse on the Tampa skyline but has often led to it being referred to as the “Beer Can Building” by local residents.  Its only exterior lighting are two skyward facing lights which further the lighthouse symbolism.

It was designed by architect Harry Wolf who based its measurements on the Fibonacci Series.  In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers begin with 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.  The Fibonacci sequence is named after Leonardo of Pisa, who was known as Fibonacci.  Applications include computer algorithms.  They also appear in biological settings, such as branching in trees, arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruit spouts of a pineapple, the flowering of artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone. The buildings 1,880 windows and 13 feet from floor to floor resemble the building’s mathematical basis.

On the interior of the building, concentric shapes in the lobby mark distance of time and space.  Despite the buildings cylindrical design, a liner grid wraps around the building’s façade.  The building has floor to ceiling windows with a thick concrete band horizontally separating them, which gives the appearance of two smaller windows.  The building’s top five floors have thin rose-colored glass notches that offer views over the city.

At completion the building was showered with heavy praise as well as criticism.  It was recognized with an Honor Award for design by the American Institute of Architects in 1993.


Harry C. Wolf, FAIA graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, 1958 and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Architecture in 1960.

Harry Wolf founded his architectural practice in 1966 in Charlotte, N.C. In 1988, he formed Wolf Architecture in Los Angeles, where he has continued to produce distinguished projects, hallmarked by their concern for order and their quiet, yet powerful elegance. His work has received over thirty awards from the American Institute of Architects, and has, five times, received the Nation’s highest award for design -The AIA National Honor Award.

Described in the distinguished French publication, Hazan’s Encyclopedia of Modern Architects:

“Mr.Wolf’s work has evolved consistently, through his exploration of the infinite potential of platonic geometry to accommodate program and respond to site. The ordering of materials, technology and structure along with the attention to detail recalls the minimalist rigor of Mies van der Rohe, but Wolf’s balanced asymmetries and sensitivity to human scale make for a much more user-friendly environment. His architecture also bears comparison to the work of Louis Kahn in its modulated solids and voids. The subtle influence of these two masters is to be found in much of Wolf’s work.  They emerge in poetic force.”

Mr. Wolf is a registered architect in California, New York, Texas and North Carolina and has served on numerous civic and professional boards. He has projects in Europe and Asia and his work spans the United States.  The design quality, the consistency of the work is such that he has received on average one major AIA Design Award for every year since founding in 1966.  He continues to practice from his office located in West Hollywood California today.


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