TAMPA — Most of the time you walk right by a building without ever really paying attention to its significance or history.
The Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture and Design is trying to change that. We are right in the middle of their annual Design Week.
“There are so many hidden gems in Tampa Bay, its so great there is something that can literally be in your backyard that you didn’t know anything about and that’s what events like this are for to help you discover those things,” said Rachel Radawec with the Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture and Design.
This is the 6th year that the non-profit organization has hosted a week of tours for both architects and architects at heart.
“What really warms my heart is when you have that everyday individual who has never drawn out a building in their life or have any type of grasp in the design community who really has that thirst for knowledge,” said Radawec.
One of the tours this week was of the J.C. Newman Cigar Company. Not only has the factory been around since 1910, they’re still rolling cigars everyday.
Winding through hallways, creeping down steps, and peering though basement doors, it’s an opportunity for the public to understand the inner workings of Ybor City’s last remaining cigar factory.
Designs you thought were only in movies, like a secret door in the floor boards, are still being used to this day at the factory.
While upstairs you’ll find the factory’s original clock. Architect John Hadley said even though he’s leading the tour, he’s constantly learning something new.
“Its a stunning building that has a tremendous amount of history to it and to have owners that use it in this way that it was used more than 100 years ago is really special to be a part of that,” said Hadley.
Then there’s Rochelle Gross. She’s never designed a building, but she’s also never missed a Design Week.
“Its not always on your radar going to see certain places and when Design Week comes up they put everything in front of you and all of a sudden you have all these opportunities that you didn’t even think about,” said Gross.
For a complete schedule of events go to tbfad.com.