New York-based design studio DFA has opened up a new retail arcade on 50 Northwest 24th Street in Wynwood, Miami. Housing nine retail outlets, the building—which is formally known as “Wynwood Arcade”—features a vibrant mural set against an angular Cor-Ten steel facade. DFA’s Founding Partner Laith Sayigh spoke to The Architect’s Newspaper about the arcade’s design.

“We were very conscious of what Wynwood had been and what it still was,” said Sayigh as he explained how DFA were acutely aware of how Wynwood was made part of Miami’s Design District. “We never saw it turning into a trendified neighborhood,” he continued, adding how the area had maintained its sense of “grittiness” as well as being an affordable place for local artists.

As for the design, Sayigh recalled elements of his childhood to drive landscaping decisions in the project. As a result, indigenous Floridian Coccoloba uvifera’s (sea grape) have been included to act as social connectors, a feature that reminded Sayigh of his youth when such trees where well-used gathering spaces. The trees aid the creation of what Sayigh describes as a “formal oasis”—an open, shaded area with white surroundings in the center of the arcade. This feel is replicated on the rooftop where further greenery can be found along with reasonable views—for a low-rise building—across the area.

These spaces, however, are much more reserved compared to the arcade’s facade. With both angled chunks seemingly sliced from the building, the facade comprises Cor-Ten steel with a colorful mural spanning the length of the elevation. Sayigh mentioned how he and his studio had a “fascination” with the idea of creating a “canyon experience” for the retail frontage. The interior and rooftop layout reflect this approach with clear diagonals running through the building either as openings or changes in level. To amplify this, Sayigh added that the material choice of Cor-Ten steel symbolized these supposed “cuts through the building’s flesh” creating the impression of “bleeding” while also pursuing the sense of grittiness native to the vicinity.

The mural, which offers a colorful contrast to the weathering steel, currently features an array psychedelic symbols and tones. The design came from an artist local to the area and is due to be changed every two years. Speaking of future plans, Sayigh added how DFA were looking into installing an outdoor screen on the roofdeck to encourage more visitors not just at daytimes with the offer of outdoor movies being shown.

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