Pedestrian-friendly makeover proposed for Downtown Miami

Architecture Design East Transportation Urbanism
(Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

(Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

New towers seem to be cropping up in Downtown Miami every 15 minutes. But with the growing housing supply of apartments, and the impressive Perez Art Museum by Herzog & de Mueron, the area continues to be seriously lacking when it comes to walkability and open space. Now, that could change if a proposal by the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) gets the green light.

Existing condition. (Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

Existing condition. (Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

The plan, called Biscayne Green designed by Behar Font & Partners, would completely overhaul six blocks of Biscayne Boulevard—a nearly 200-foot-wide roadway that runs between downtown and Bayfront Park. The most significant change would be replacing the existing surface-level parking lot in the middle of the boulevard with a series of parks and plazas. This linear park is intended to become a human-scaled public place that offers easy connections to the waterfront park. And a whole lot more.

(Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

(Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

The DDA said it would support the existing sidewalk design by world-famous landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. And it would add to it with new paving technologies like solar pavers that light up when people step on them. There would also be programmable lighting systems to illuminate the new landscape, art installations, building rooftops, and water features. This influx of light would, according to the official plan, lead travelers flying above Downtown Miami to say things like this: “What are those lighted colors on the sidewalks/pavers below? – let’s visit [Downtown Miami].”

(Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

(Courtesy Behar Font & Partners via Miami Downtown Development Authority)

Along with the cool lighting fixtures, Biscayne Green would also house exercise areas, markets, cafes, sports courts, and retail kiosks. Kids would get a sandbox and their parents, a “grown-up playground.” To make room for the grown-up playground and all the rest of it, the DDA creates a below-grade parking lot. CityLab noted that while surface-level parking spots would be reduced from 400 to 200, the new subterranean lot would have space for 357 more cars, giving Downtown Miami 150 new parking space.

So far, Florida’s DOT seems generally supportive of the plan. A representative from the department told Miami Today: “As state transportation partners, we find the DDA’s vision to be pedestrian friendly, aesthetically pleasing and in line with the department’s Complete Streets vision.”

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