The Poynter campus: Let us show you around
The perfect space in the perfect place
Built in 1985, The Poynter Institute’s modern architecture is surrounded by lush Florida vegetation and swaying palm trees. Inside the building, visitors find warm Honduran mahogany wood, floors of marble from a quarry outside Verona and a particular way that light streams through the windows that welcomes them and invites them to relax, to think, to learn and to share ideas.
The campus itself is an important part of what we call the “Poynter Experience.”
Poynter is a busy place, hosting thousands of visitors each year from a broad range of backgrounds. At any given time, groups of journalists might wander the campus with cameras, sound equipment and notebooks, engage in a lively conversation about the future of media or work in one of the classrooms, computer labs or conference spaces.
With its state-of-the-art facilities and friendly accommodations, Poynter is an increasingly popular venue for national media industry conferences.
Poynter hosts community events, giving locals an opportunity to hear world-class writers, broadcasters, photographers, designers and other media and business innovators talk about their work. Award-winning broadcasters Ted Koppel and Dan Rather, Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof are just a few who have spoken in recent months. NBC’s Tom Brokaw is scheduled to appear next.
About the building
Dedicated: December 11, 1985
Architects: Jung/Brannen Associates of Boston
Total Square Footage: 49,000, with an addition built in 2001.
Meeting Space: Eleven dedicated rooms of varying sizes can accommodate events with as few as six attendees to as many as 200. Poynter’s Great Hall can hold a dinner reception. There are media labs for computer-training classes, two board rooms and classrooms of multiple sizes.
The Great Hall: A gathering place for large meetings, dinner parties and social functions, the hall has a floor-to-ceiling view of Bayboro Harbor to the east. The hall has 2,139 square feet of space.
Skylight: A skylight rises 55 feet from a marble floor in the Great Hall to flood the area with sunlight.
Woodwork: A most remarkable facet of the building is the mahogany woodwork in the Great Hall, all of it taken from two trees felled in a Honduran jungle in 1982, about two years before construction commenced. The trees, eight feet in diameter and more than 40 feet tall, were taken out of the jungle by native lumberjacks who pulled them to a river on which they floated to port. The trees were cut into veneer slices 1/40th of an inch thick. The slices were numbered as they fell away from the saw. Months later, they were assembled in the same consecutive order as they were put up at the institute. Woodworkers call this process book-matching.
Marble and Stonework: A combination of three Italian marbles were selected from quarries outside of Verona, Italy, for the floors of the Great Hall. Around the exterior, a major element is Keystone, which comes from a long-dead underwater reef in the Florida Keys. Many of the Keystone blocks near the courtyard reveal fascinating fossils of sea creatures.
The Reflecting Pool: A gathering spot for both class time and conversation is a shallow pool on the east side of the building. A vine-covered trellis shades it.
About the architecture:
The Boston-based firm, Jung/Brannen, was selected in 1984 by then-Poynter President Bob Haiman.
Haiman said he liked Robert Bradden’s notions about architecture: “that a building had to be more than steel and concrete. That there were ways to combine richness with modern technology. That it was time to return to the use of wood and other natural materials and that in seeking humanistic design and detail, it was once again acceptable to use decoration in the classic tradition.”
Before the building was designed, Haiman wrote in a memorandum to Jung/Brannen:
“This building is for an Institute … dedicated to excellence. It should say quality, dignity, elegance, and class. It is for an institution dedicated to human endeavor and the liberal arts. So it must not sacrifice warmth, beauty, or grace in order to achieve the necessary look of strength.
“It is for an institution which is pointed toward the future. It should be truly modern, contemporary. It must not be trendy because trendiness does not endure. But it should excite the eye and fire the imagination. It should look new … and always look new … while at the same time seeming timeless.
“It is for an institution which thrives on innovation and change, even surprise. It should have some design surprises which will delight the eye. It cannot, however, be tricky because tricks quickly lose their capacity to delight.
“It should recognize its location, basking in and reflecting the Florida sun on its exterior. But it should provide an oasis of shade and coolness in it interior, shielding its inhabitants from the tropical sun and rain.”
The Poynter Institute
801 Third St. South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701