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Moderne Miami

Shulman + Associates blends the vernacular and contemporary in hybrid facade systems
On October 4, Facades+ is coming to Miami. The conference features nine speakers from a broad range of AEC firms, ranging from architectural concrete supplier Gate Precast to Paris-based Ateliers Jean Nouvel, and Miami's own Arquitectonica. Allan Shulman, who founded Miami’s Shulman + Associates in 1996, will be co-chairing the conference. Over the last two decades, Shulman + Associates has been recognized with dozens of design awards stemming from the practice’s site-specific designs and ambitious forays into architectural preservation and urbanism. To learn more about Miami’s architectural development, AN interviewed Allan Shulman on the city’s burgeoning urbanism, adaptation to climate change, and preservation efforts. The Architect’s Newspaper: Miami is undergoing a significant period of development, with seemingly continual expansions of the Miami Design District and nationally-prestigious projects such as the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Shulman + Associates is a player in this current trend. What factors do you perceive as driving Miami’s architectural renaissance? Allan Shulman: I am a bit skeptical of the term “significant period of development” in this city, because it seems as though the development cycle, like the touristic cycle, has sprawled into a continuous blob, not a focused moment. The challenges are therefore fundamental and strategic, not localized. Overall, I see three themes driving Miami’s development: First, we are building today the infrastructure of a great city. The reality and ambition of the city are driven by the idea of being a global city, comparable and compared to other such cities around the globe. Is the city just becoming a better version of itself? I don’t think so. Great parks and public spaces, great cultural facilities, great transportation networks, ground-up public involvement in design questions by an empowered and informed public are all at play. Yet the frustrations about our failures in this regard are as intense as the optimistic ambition. But still, the global city is the emerging measuring stick, so I think the discussion is getting more interesting. Second, we are witnessing a remarkable densification and consolidation of neighborhoods throughout the metropolitan area. In a city as decentralized as Miami, the building is not happening in just one or two areas, but across a broad swath of the city. Certainly, it is uneven and driven more by the glam end of the spectrum: downtown, Miami Beach, Wynwood, and the Design District, but you can see it cropping up around Metrorail stations, extending along Miami’s commercial arteries and mushrooming around old neighborhood centers. Also, you can see it in the widespread use of historic preservation to conserve neighborhood character, and in the vast number of civic initiatives that are a part of the discourse. Finally, it seems as though the “tropical” and the “modern” are new again. This is extraordinary…it ties us to our roots, of course. Miami has a long tradition, and some of the greatest work produced here was inspired by these themes. But it also launches us into the future because it engages two relevant themes: How do we understand and relate to our particular context? And what is the appropriate architectural solution to address the problems of today? Miami is known for its distinctive modernist heritage. How does this architectural heritage contrast or complement contemporary facade systems? AS: Miami has often been a laboratory of contemporary building systems; it certainly was in the 1930s, when the city experienced an explosion of construction. Plate and Vitrolite glass products and new lighting systems were used in support of modern architecture. Today, it is difficult to be innovative because we have a more limited array of available facade systems, compared to other cities in North America. Our building codes require compliance with water-tightness and impact criteria, and each system must be tested and approved for a specific use in order to be used in Miami-Dade County. The process is expensive and time-consuming and limits choices. Manufacturers with a large market for their product invest, but certain niche players find it not worth it. Of course, choices have expanded a lot since the imposition of the testing requirement after Hurricane Andrew in the 1990s, but this requirement is still quite limiting. Certainly glass systems have improved, as well as rain-screens and louver systems. There are a number of modern-appropriate systems we can use, but others we can’t. Restoration projects, such as Shulman + Associates' Betsy-Carlton Hotel, allow for the retention of historic properties while bringing them up to contemporary standards. How do you approach blending the new with the old, and is there a specific intervention or facade treatment that your firm is particularly proud of? AS: At the most basic level, we try to blend serious research-based preservation with inventive approaches in areas we add or adapt. We aspire to make the finished project a legible record of the building’s development over time. Regarding historic facades, we try to use the same techniques as were used in the original building’s construction, to be true to the material culture of the period. In new facades, we are all about the contemporary. We are proud of the Betsy-Carlton, where we used laser-cut aluminum to feature poetry, and abundant transparent walls at the new wings of the building while preserving the old fabric of the structure. We also developed a spherical object (an “Orb”) that ties the Betsy and the Carlton, in order to abstract an otherwise utilitarian building connection over the alley. What is new is proudly idiosyncratic and situational. The rest is context. Hurricane Irma highlighted the environmental challenges that lie ahead for Miami with increased incidents of extreme weather. What methods and techniques are currently being used across Miami and by Shulman + Associates to confront this predicament? AS: The most important new techniques involve raising buildings and protecting the facade from flying debris. We have been raising buildings for some years now, following FEMA requirements, but now we are raising them more radically, enough to open the space under the building. This is a practical and low-tech solution. The other strategy, protecting facades from flying debris, overlaps with the objective of protecting the facade from sun and rain. So hybrid facade systems that are layered in depth and have resilience are preferred. Outside of the threat of climate change and extreme weather conditions, Miami is located within a tropical climate. How can firms best adapt their facade systems to this environment, and what techniques are Shulman + Associates utilizing? AS: Adapting facade systems to the tropics is the biggest challenge we have because it affects everyday use, performance, and comfort of the building. Although we get no or little credit for it in our energy calculations, we generally shade and/or screen our facades to the extent we can. This again leads to hybrid systems that provide some depth by which to filter and dampen the extreme effects of the environment. The materials are new, but the techniques for doing this have been around since at least the postwar period. I consider myself an avid student of history in this regard. To learn more about Miami Facades+AM click here.
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Tropical and Tall

Bjarke Ingels designs stilted Miami Produce Center complex
Bjarke Ingels Group is teaming up with Miami Beach developer Robert Wennett to design a mega mixed-use project dubbed the Miami Produce Center for that city's Allapattah neighborhood. The Real Deal reported that Wennett’s Miami Produce Center LLC aims to construct an eight-building development outfitted with residential units, offices, retail, a hotel, a school, and a parking garage, according to a Special Area Plan recently filed to the City of Miami. Property records show the plan for the new buildings covers an 8.54-acre block at 12th Avenue and 21st Street—all of which was bought for a grand total of $16 million back in 2016. Initial renderings for the Miami Produce Center reveal Wennett’s futuristic and tropical vision for the multi-leveled urbanscape. BIG’s design centers around stacked, rectangular structures, all varying in height and set atop thin stilts. The interconnected buildings, with their exposed floor plates, tilted walls, and angular views, are laid out like horizontal Jenga—some reaching as high as 19 stories. Rooftop plantings and greenery soften the stark design while a landscaped plaza, sunlit parking garage, and grass-covered pavilions shade shoppers and visitors within the complex. In recent years, Wennett has purchased old buildings and warehouses in the largely industrial area, which is situated northwest of downtown Miami and west of the airport. His most well-known project, 1111 Lincoln Road, is an award-winning mixed-use garage designed by Herzog & de Meuron in South Beach.
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42 Categories

Here are the winners of the 2017 AN Best of Design Awards
The 2017 AN Best of Design Awards was our most successful yet. After expanding the categories to a whopping 42, we got over 800 submissions that made the judging more difficult than ever. Projects in all shapes and sizes came from firms big and small from every corner of the country. While we were surprised by the quantity of submissions, we were not surprised by the quality of the work put forth by our trusty base of architects and designers. There were some telling trends, however. First, the Adaptive Reuse category could have been three times as big as it was, because almost every category received some kind of reuse project. From lofts to retail spaces in disused buildings, the amount of old structures made new is astounding and speaks to larger movements in U.S. architecture. Reclaimed spaces are currently stylish and it is generally better for the environment and local culture when we reintegrate existing structures into their cities. One surprise was that our Northeast Building of the Year, the MASS MoCA renovation by Bruner/Cott Architects, took home the prize. The massive reuse project skillfully renegotiates an old factory, which the jury found to be more successful and important than some other new buildings that might have won in the past. Similarly, for Midwest Building of the Year, we saw a tie between two powerhouse campus projects. Studio Gang’s University of Chicago Campus North Residential Commons and WEISS/MANFREDI’s Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design ignited a strong debate among the jury, and in the end they both proved worthy of the award. It is refreshing to see such good architecture being realized in the Midwest, and it says something about the state of architecture nationwide. Our jury this year was a blast as always, with a very talented group that sparked vigorous discussions and refined the way we look at architecture. It is always good to get more people involved in the conversation, and we are constantly shifting our views on what is relevant and interesting. We hope you enjoy this selection of winners and honorable mentions, and we look forward to hearing from you next year as we keep searching out the best architecture and design to award! William Menking, editor in chief Matt Shaw, senior editor We will be updating this list over the next few days with winner and honorable mention profiles. To see the complete feature, don't miss our 2017 Best of Design Awards issue, out now! 2017 AN Best of Design Awards Building of the Year Midwest Winners (tie) University of Chicago Campus North Residential Commons Studio Gang Chicago Kent State Center For Architecture and Environmental Design WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Kent, Ohio Building of the Year West Winner Point Loma Nazarene University Science Complex Carrier Johnson + CULTURE San Diego, California Building of the Year Northeast Winner The Robert W. Wilson Building at MASS MoCA Bruner/Cott Architects North Adams, Massachusetts Building of the Year Mid-Atlantic Winner Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University Steven Holl Architects Princeton, New Jersey Building of the Year Southwest Winner Arizona State University Beus Center for Law and Society Ennead Architects Phoenix Building of the Year Southeast Winner Grove at Grand Bay Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Coconut Grove, Florida Restoration Winner The Benacerraf House Michael Graves Architecture & Design Princeton, New Jersey Honorable Mentions ROW DTLA Produce Renovation Rios Clementi Hale Studios Los Angeles Aurora St. Charles Senior Housing Weese Langley Weese Architects Aurora, Illinois Adaptive Reuse Winner The Contemporary Austin Jones Center Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects Austin, Texas Honorable Mentions New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Marvel Architects Brooklyn, New York MASS MoCA, The Robert W. Wilson Building Bruner/Cott Architects North Adams, Massachusetts Building Renovation Winner Black House Oza / Sabbeth Architecture Sagaponack, New York Honorable Mentions Billboard Building SHULMAN + ASSOCIATES Miami The Beckoning Path BarlisWedlick Architects Armonk, New York Lighting – Outdoor Winner Longwood Gardens Renovation L’Observatoire International Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Honorable Mentions University of Iowa, Hancher Auditorium Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design Iowa City, Iowa City Point Mall Focus Lighting Brooklyn, New York Lighting – Indoor Winner Second Avenue Subway Domingo Gonzalez Associates New York Honorable Mention Body Factory BFDO Architects New York Civic – Administrative Winner Boston Emergency Medical Services The Galante Architecture Studio Boston Honorable Mentions United States Courthouse, Los Angeles Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Los Angeles San Diego Central Courthouse Skidmore, Owings & Merrill San Diego Civic – Cultural Winner Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art SO-IL with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Davis, California Honorable Mention Chrysalis MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY Columbia, Maryland Civic – Educational Winner Elmhurst Community Library Marpillero Pollak Architects Queens, New York Honorable Mentions Lakeview Pantry Wheeler Kearns Architects Chicago University of California, San Diego Jacobs Medical Center CannonDesign La Jolla, California Hospitality Winner Broken Rice Undisclosable Denver Honorable Mention Wilshire Grand Tower Complex AC Martin Los Angeles Office & Retail Winner Albina Yard LEVER Architecture Portland, Oregon Honorable Mentions Cummins Indy Distribution Headquarters Deborah Berke Partners Indianapolis Zurich North America Headquarters Goettsch Partners Schaumburg, Illinois Facade Winner United States Courthouse - Los Angeles Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Los Angeles Honorable Mention University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Kate Tiedemann College of Business ikon .5 architects, Harvard Jolly Architects St. Petersburg, Florida Green – Residential Winner Casa Querétaro DesignBridge Chicago Honorable Mention Inhabit Solar Cabana Inhabit Solar Queens, New York Green – Civic Winner Princeton University Embodied Computation Lab The Living Princeton, New Jersey Honorable Mention United States Courthouse, Los Angeles Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Los Angeles Infrastructure Winner 10th and Wyandotte Parking Garage BNIM Kansas City, Missouri Interior – Residential Winner Chilmark House Schiller Projects with Lisa Gray of GrayDesign Chilmark, Massachusetts Honorable Mention Capsule Loft Joel Sanders Architect New York Interior – Retail Winner Health Yoga Life BOS|UA Cambridge, Massachusetts Interior – Workplace Winner Memphis Teacher Residency archimania Memphis, Tennessee Honorable Mention RDC-S111 Urban Office Retail Design Collaborative Long Beach, California Landscape – Private Winner LaGrange Landscape Murray Legge Architecture La Grange, Texas Honorable Mention De Maria Garden Gluckman Tang Architects Bridgehampton, New York Landscape – Public Winner Confetti Urbanism Endemic (Clark Thenhaus) San Francisco Honorable Mentions Farnham-Connolly State Park Pavilion Touloukian Touloukian (Pavilion Architect) with Crosby Schlessinger Smallridge (Landscape Architect) Canton, Massachusetts The Meriden Green Milone & MacBroom Meriden, Connecticut Mixed Use Winner North Main Bates Masi + Architects East Hampton, New York Honorable Mention Brickell City Centre Arquitectonica Miami Residential – Multi Unit Winner True North EC3 Detroit Honorable Mentions American Copper Buildings SHoP Architects New York 2510 Temple Tighe Architecture Los Angeles Residential – Single Unit Winner Michigan Lake House Desai Chia Architecture with Environment Architects Leelanau County, Michigan Honorable Mentions Constant Springs Residence Alterstudio Architecture Austin, Texas Upstate Teahouse Tsao & McKown Pound Ridge, New York Urban Design Winner India Basin Skidmore, Owings & Merrill San Francisco Honorable Mentions Atlanta’s Park Over GA400 Rogers Partners and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Atlanta The Reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square WXY New York Small Spaces Winner Five Fields Play Structure Matter Design + FR|SCH Projects Lexington, Massachusetts Honorable Mention Attic Transformer Michael K Chen Architecture New York Unbuilt – Commercial/Civic Winner The Ronald O. Perelman Center at The World Trade Center REX New York Honorable Mention Lima Art Museum (MALI) Young Projects Lima, Peru Unbuilt – Infrastructure Winner The Regional Unified Network ReThink Studio New York Honorable Mention Rogers Partners Galveston Bay, Texas Unbuilt – Landscape Winner Maker Park STUDIO V Architecture Brooklyn, New York Honorable Mentions The Statue of Liberty Museum FXFOWLE Liberty Island, New York Pier 55 Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects New York Unbuilt – Residential Winner 14 White Street DXA studio with NAVA New York Honorable Mentions Long Island City Oyster Carlos Arnaiz Architects (CAZA) New York Necklace Residence REX Long Island, New York Young Architects Winner mcdowellespinosa architects Charlottesville, Virginia and Brooklyn, New York Honorable Mentions Spiegel Aihara Workshop San Francisco Hana Ishikawa Chicago Temporary Installation Winner Living Picture T+E+A+M Lake Forest, Illinois Honorable Mentions Big Will and Friends Architecture Office Syracuse, New York and Eindhoven, the Netherlands Parallax Gap FreelandBuck Washington, D.C. Representation – Analog Winner Cosmic Metropolis Van Dusen Architects Conceptual Honorable Mention Trash Peaks DESIGN EARTH 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism Architectural Representations – Digital Winner Three Projects SPORTS New York Honorable Mentions MIDDLE EARTH: DIORAMAS FOR THE PLANET NEMESTUDIO Conceptual New Cadavre Exquis NEMESTUDIO Conceptual Digital Fabrication Winner Under Magnitude MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY Orlando, Florida Honorable Mentions Flotsam & Jetsam SHoP Architects Miami As We Are Matthew Mohr Studios Columbus, Ohio New Materials Winner Indiana Hardwood Cross-Laminated Timber IKD Columbus, Indiana Research Winner Snapping Facade Jin Young Song (University at Buffalo, Dioinno Architecture) Conceptual Honorable Mention The Framework Project LEVER Architecture with the Framework Project Portland, Oregon Student Work Winner Preston Outdoor Education Station el dorado inc Kansas State University, College of Architecture, Planning, and Design Elmdale, Kansas Honorable Mentions Waldo Duplex el dorado inc Kansas State University, College of Architecture, Planning, and Design Kansas City, Missouri Big Vic and the Blue Furret Rajah Bose California College of the Arts San Francisco, California A special thanks to our 2017 AN Best of Design Awards Jury! Morris Adjmi Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects Emily Bauer Landscape Architect, Bjarke Ingels Group Eric Bunge Principal, nARCHITECTS Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, The Architect’s Newspaper Nathaniel Stanton Principal, Craft Engineer Studio Irene Sunwoo Director of Exhibitions, GSAPP
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Miami Beach Elegy

New Chip Lord film shows Miami Beach fighting—and losing to—a rising ocean
Chip Lord's Miami Beach Elegy was presented by the artist at a screening at the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco on May 13, 2017. Miami Beach is the product of real estate development and a great deal of human effort. 100,000 residents (plus many visitors) live a precarious existence between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay while the beaches are replenished by the truckload with sand from a mine inland near the south end of Lake Okeechobee. Miami Beach is out of sand, and with sea level rising a fraction of an inch each year, it’s running out of time. Chip Lord, best known to most architects as a member of the legendary experimental practice Ant Farm, has worked since the 1970s primarily as a video artist. Two of his recent projects, based in New York and Venice, have explored climate change. His most recent video piece titled Miami Beach Elegy” goes to Florida to explore a place that is already bearing the brunt of rising seas. Lord’s approach to this video grew out of a collaboration with Hayden Pedigo, a young musician who both plays guitar and composes ambient electronic music. Pedigo invited Lord to make a video based on his album Greetings from Amarillo, which the artist completed in 2016. Exploring the highways and outskirts of Amarillo, this is a 30-minute road movie that also explores the tourist attraction that Any Farm’s installation Cadillac Ranch” has become. Chip Lord decided to undertake another video portrait with Pedigo’s music, but instead of the Texas panhandle, he turned his camera on South Florida. This film contrasts day to day life in Miami Beach with the reality of flooding that is already occurring at high tides as water both overtops the existing shoreline defenses and seeps through the porous rock the city is built on from below. The film’s dialogue is limited to the opening sequence of a clip from a local newscast reporting on flooding caused by king tides, the highest tides of the year. Over a few minutes, the newscaster shows flooded streets and people wading through knee deep water but ends on a hopeful note that the city will soon be solving the flooding problem with pumps. He never mentions sea level rise or climate change. It’s presented as if it were a minor, one time inconvenience, not a preview of what’s to come. If the six feet of sea level rise that many experts are now predicting comes to be, pumping isn’t going to cut it on an island that is only four and a half feet above sea level. The pumps are a feature throughout the film. Lord uses the water bubbling out of the sewer outfalls, where the seawater is pumped into the bay, as a transition between segments. All of the while, Pedigo’s music fills the background with an atmospheric soundtrack that at times, in Lord’s words, resembles whale sounds. The film cuts between sections of riding in cars, parking in the Herzog & de Meuron–designed parking garage, walking with a handheld camera through a hotel, bulldozers dumping sand on the beach, and the “Beach Tech 2800” machine being towed behind a tractor grooming the sand for the next day’s visitors followed by an empty beach in the morning as employees put out chairs and umbrellas for another day. The mundane day to day tasks of setting the stage for the unending stream of tourists from around the world takes place in the early morning or under the cover of darkness. One of the more surreal moments involves visitors inspecting Damien Hirst’s Gone but not Forgotten, a gilded wooly mammoth skeleton inside a glass and gold vitrine that was exhibited at the Faena Forum, a facility that includes a hotel and a new art center by OMA. The mammoth is situated outdoors with swaying palm trees and the ocean in the background, its species a victim of both climate change and overhunting by early humans. I struggle to think of a more relevantly symbolic artwork one could place outside a beachfront hotel in Miami Beach. The camera lingers on tourists in the waves and a girl building a sand castle, which is slowly subsumed by the ocean. “3 Months Later” scrolls as the camera looks out the window of an airplane flying over Miami Beach as it lands. Then we see the architect of the Faena Forum discussing the project to an assembled crowd. The continued development of luxury Miami Beach real estate looks absurd in the face of feeble attempts to postpone the inevitable that Lord depicts in the film. There is already talk of “climate gentrification” as investors seek to buy inland property on higher ground in Miami proper, but in the meantime, people continue to flock to South Florida to buy real estate and look at contemporary art. While the beach umbrellas continue to go out every morning and the sand is groomed at night the water continues to rise.
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33 Winners

Urban beaches, ‘visionary’ architects, ice skating paths among winners of 2017 Knight Cities Challenge
A forest on an abandoned freeway, a bike path turned winter skate track, and participatory governing at the bus stops are slated for reality thanks to the benevolence of the Knight Foundation, which today announced more than three dozen winners of its city-focused grants. This is the third year the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has bestowed $5 million on projects that enhance public spaces large and small across 26 foundation-selected locales. Through the Knight Cities Challenge program, groups or individuals in those places are invited to submit proposals with an eye towards making cities more successful, a mandate that winners interpreted with an eye towards civic dialogue, youth engagement, and neighborhood revitalization. This year, 19 of the 26 cities are represented in 33 winning proposals the Knight Foundation selected from 144 finalists, which were in turn picked from more than 4,500 applications. The average grant is worth around $147,000, with awards ranging from $12,000 for a mobile voting booth in Georgia to more than $300,000 for a traveling participatory design lab in Philadelphia. Below, see how all of the winners will be putting those grants to use (all project descriptions are courtesy of the Knight Foundation):
The A Place Aberdeen Area Community Foundation Aberdeen, South Dakota Opening a pathway to more opportunity and civic engagement by creating a one-stop information and assistance center for immigrants and new Americans. Innerbelt National Forest Hunter Franks Akron, Ohio Reconnecting two socially and physically isolated neighborhoods by replacing a closed freeway in Akron with a lush forest and public space. @PLAY Art x Love Akron, Ohio Encouraging deeper community connections through custom games and recreational activities that highlight the unique history, identity, and character of each of the city’s communities. Witnessing the Beach Gulf Coast Community Design Studio Biloxi, Mississippi Engaging the public across race, income, and age differences through a series of community gathering and discussion spaces at the beach along the path of the “wade-in” protests, which led to the desegregation of the public beach in 1968. Speak Up Bradenton Manatee County Government Bradenton, Florida Encouraging greater civic engagement by opening up avenues for citizens to participate in government decision-making in non-traditional settings such as bus stops, landmarks, and other public gathering places. Rail Trail Grove & Field Charlotte Center City Partners Charlotte, North Carolina Encouraging economic development and city vibrancy by creating a lively place to connect with nature and neighbors along Charlotte’s light rail line. The space will also help link a retail employment center to the nearest transit stop. Your Move, Charlotte Varian Shrum Charlotte, North Carolina Strengthening connections between citizens and local government through a weekly podcast and follow-up roundtable, in which government representatives and millennials engage on local issues. The State’s Front Porch City of Columbia Columbia, South Carolina Encouraging residents to connect with their government by reimagining the State House as a front porch for all, including seating, events and alternative work spaces throughout the State House grounds. Atwater Beach Detroit RiverFront Conservancy Detroit Further activating the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street. Better Buildings, Better Blocks Building Community Value Detroit Providing a pipeline for minorities into real estate jobs, by teaching the fundamentals of small-scale property development and providing initial project financing. Design Center in a Box: A Place for Informed Community Exchange City of Detroit Planning and Development Department Detroit Promoting civic engagement by creating pop-up city planning offices where residents can connect with city planning staff and others to exchange ideas and become informed about the design and planning work happening in their neighborhood and the city at large. Detroit’s Slow Roll Detroit Bike City Detroit Leveraging the 25,000 cyclists who participate in Slow Roll Detroit and demonstrating how to engage Detroit’s nonprofit sector, drive renewal and smile while doing it. Happy 18th Birthday! Local Citizenship Kit Citizen Detroit Detroit Celebrating Detroiters becoming eligible to vote by sending them a local citizenship kit in the mail on their 18th birthday. Making Canal Park Pop City of Duluth Duluth, Minnesota Connecting residents to both Canal Park and to each other by creating a pop-up parklet that will encourage more people to visit. City Church Ruins Garden City of Gary Redevelopment Commission Gary, Indiana Making downtown more vibrant by transforming a historic, abandoned Gothic church in downtown into a ruins garden and event space. The Grand Forks Freezeway Nicholas Jensen Grand Forks, North Dakota Inspiring winter fun and city pride by turning unused bike paths into ice skating paths during winter.
Plant&Play North Limestone Community Development Corp. Lexington, Kentucky Building an adventure playscape and community garden in Castlewood Park, a 30-acre neighborhood park on the north end of Lexington. Back Lot Drive-In at the Tubman Tubman Museum Macon, Georgia Expanding the reach of Macon’s art and museum district by transforming the parking lot of the Tubman Museum into a drive-in theater with screenings that coincide with exhibitions that support the museum’s mission to educate visitors about African-American art, history, and culture.  Pop-Up Garage Park Cole Porter Macon, Georgia Converting an abandoned parking garage into a vibrant, environmentally-friendly community space by introducing green space, art, tables and event programming. Civic Incite: Citizens Setting the Agenda Civic Incite Miami Inspiring civic engagement with an online platform that tracks public meetings and legislation across cities to promote in-person engagement with local governments. Miami-Dade Quickbuild Program Street Plans Collaborative Miami Establishing a program within Miami-Dade County in partnership with local transportation nonprofit Green Mobility Network that advances low-cost, quick-build transportation and open space projects. Rep(resentative) Miami Engage Miami Miami Breaking down barriers to civic participation by putting clear, actionable information about local elected officials directly into citizens’ hands. The Year of Voting Dangerously Twin Lakes Library System Milledgeville, Georgia Engaging the community with a mobile voting booth that prompts residents to respond to pressing local issues and initiatives. 12 for 12: Popup to Rent City of West Palm Beach Palm Beach County, Florida Expanding on the success of a pilot pop-up gallery project by inviting local talent to activate 12 empty storefront spaces as an economic catalyst for West Palm Beach. A Dream Deferred: PHL Redlining – Past, Present, Future Little Giant Creative Philadelphia Building more equitable communities by launching a series of convenings across several cities where decision-makers, social entrepreneurs, activists, and innovators discuss equitable community development. PHL Participatory Design Lab City of Philadelphia Philadelphia Providing a space for Philadelphians to design city service solutions with a mobile, participatory city design lab that will travel from neighborhood to neighborhood. Tabadul: [Re]Presenting and [Ex]Changing Our America Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture Philadelphia Creating forums for cultural exchange that connect communities and activate public spaces through photographic displays of youths’ expressions of identity. Up Up & Away: Building a Programming Space for Comics & Beyond Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse Philadelphia Creating a space where diverse communities of aspiring comic creators can attend workshops and receive professional development. Vendor Village in the Park: Vending to Vibrancy Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Corp. [SEAMAAC] Philadelphia Providing entrepreneurial opportunities and connecting diverse communities by opening a marketplace for immigrant cuisine in Mifflin Square Park. Local Color Exhibition District San Jose, California Activating vacant commercial sites with a creative bazaar featuring artist studios alongside modular, open spaces for multidisciplinary community learning and teaching. Reimagining the City: City Designer for San Jose City of San Jose San Jose, California Working to ensure San Jose develops into a walkable, green and engaged metropolis by hiring a visionary chief architect. Pop-Up Power to the People City of St. Paul St. Paul, Minnesota Creating a suite of fun civic engagement tools that gives St. Paul residents the power to design their own community meetings. Horizontes Armando Minjarez-Monarrez Wichita, Kansas Connecting two neighborhoods by painting murals depicting neighborhood residents through an industrial corridor that separates them and engaging residents to reflect on what a “new horizon” for the neighborhood would look like.
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Making No Small Plans

Optimism fuels Miami’s mega-developments, but a denser Miami isn’t a sure thing

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

New York or Los Angeles?

These are the two contrasting models of urbanism that Raymond Fort, designer at Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica, cites when asked about Miami’s future. In New York, numerous walkable neighborhoods—whose density, convenience, and character are major assets—are connected by a robust public transportation system. In Los Angeles, low density and car-oriented urbanism is the norm outside the downtown core (though transit-oriented development has begun to spread in recent years). Many developers working in Miami are clearly enthusiastic about the New York model. However, that future isn’t guaranteed: The potential for car-dominated sprawl and other hybrid models still exist.

Arquitectonica is behind Brickell City Centre, a 5.4-million-square-foot complex of offices, luxury condos, a hotel, and ample retail south of Downtown Miami. Developed by Swire Group, Brickell is one of the many large, mixed-use developments in Miami that signals movement toward density. Phase one opened late last year, and phase two will entail an 80-story mixed-use tower.

Just north of downtown, there’s Miami Worldcenter, a 17-million-square-foot, 27-acre complex. It’s a joint venture by multiple developers, with Boston-based Elkus Manfredi leading the master plan and designing the center’s phase one, which is anchored by a 1-million-square-foot retail podium. Phase two is a $750 million convention center and hotel.

Development isn’t only concentrated in the urban core. About two miles north of Downtown in the Wynwood neighborhood, developer Moishe Mana and Miami-based Zyscovich Architects are poised to build a 9.72-million-square-foot, 23.5-acre development that will feature as many as 3,482 residential units, a mix of retail, office, and cultural programming, as well as an extensive public “Mana Commons” that will cut through the complex’s cluster of medium-rise towers. Dubbed Mana Wynwood, it won approvals last September. More like it may be on the way: In Little Haiti, the Eastside Ridge development will replace 500 townhouses with 7.2 million square feet of mixed-use development, and another project dubbed “Magic City(also located in Little Haiti) would see an innovation center, business incubator, housing, retail, and other art-entertainment facilities arise across a 15-acre campus.

What’s driving all of these major concentrations of development? In part, affluent young professionals across the U.S. are moving to cities seeking walkable, transit-connected neighborhoods, and developers are eager to meet that need. But there are factors unique to Miami. One is the city’s zoning: The Miami 21 code, implemented some six and half years ago, has significant parking requirements that incentivize large developments. For example, in dense high-rise areas, the code mandates 1.5 parking spaces per unit. Consequently, smaller projects struggle to meet the logistical and economic challenges of incorporating that much parking into their site. Bigger projects can more easily integrate a parking garage into their lower levels. Furthermore, if a development covers nine contiguous acres, it can qualify for a Special Area Plan, an arrangement that allows developers more flexibility in situating parking and negotiating the rules of Miami 21’s form-based code. This maximizes the development’s value. Brickell, Mana Wynwood, and the Worldcenter, as well as virtually all of Miami’s major developments, are (or have applied for) Special Area Plans.

Miami’s geography is also part of the equation. John Stuart, professor of architecture at Florida International University and executive director of its Miami Beach Urban Studios, explained how wealth from the Caribbean and Central and South America has historically flowed into Miami. “We have this gravitational pull from the south,” he said. Affluent people from Chile, Venezuela, and elsewhere come to Miami seeking “these kinds of urban experiences where they’re safe, their products are confirmed as authentic, but they’re close to their own countries….”

But the city’s geography turns from an asset to a risk when one considers the threat of extreme weather and sea-level rise. Miami Beach, which sits a mere four feet above sea level (compared to Miami’s six feet), is regularly inundated during king (high) tides and is spending nearly half a billion dollars to raise streets, install pumps, and push back the waters. Faced with such uncertainty, Stuart sees mega-developments as “just overflowing with optimism” and the belief that climate change will be remedied, ameliorated, or far enough away to not warrant significant concern in the near future.

In the shorter term, how Miami 21 and public transportation evolve may be deciding factors in shaping the city. In Wynwood, the City of Miami Planning Department is testing out a new zoning overlay that alleviates parking requirements for developments with smaller units. If Wynwood ceases to become the exception, then dense growth may not be restricted to Special Area Plan developments and the downtown urban core.

This leads to the issue of public transportation. “That’s at the core of much of what’s fragmenting the city, holding it back economically, socially, culturally,” said Stuart. “There’s very little opportunity for people who live in a neighborhood they can afford to access other neighborhoods for employment, artistic production, or other means.” Miami is in the process of funding and planning an expansion of the Metrorail, the city’s above ground heavy-rail rapid transit system. Eighty-two miles of new rail and six new lines—costing $3.6 billion—would connect the city’s burgeoning neighborhoods with each other and downtown. Complicating the situation are Uber and Lyft, whose low rates can be competitive with public transportation. Moreover, according to Fort, the prospect of driverless cars adds a new level of uncertainty to major public transportation investment.

A conversation about public transportation and mega-developments must also include the question of affordability. According to a 2016 study from the New York University Furman Center, in Miami “85 percent of recently available rental units were unaffordable to the typical renter household,” making the city the least affordable for renters among the country’s top 11 metro areas. But there are glimmers of hope: As development moves from the urban core and the waterfront to places like Wynwood, more non-luxury units may come online. Additionally, the city is already taking steps to increase affordable housing stock: A measure passed in late February would reward residential projects that feature affordable units with greater density and less required parking. However, while the downtown core and Wynwood don’t have large existing communities facing gentrification, that challenge may arise elsewhere. In other instances, density alone may deter development: Earlier this year, local opposition stopped a 1.2-million-square-foot Special Area Plan development east of Little Haiti.

For a firsthand experience, Fort recommends riding the Metrorail to survey the city—from there, you can see pockets of development (Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Brickell, Downtown) that he thinks could become medium-density nodes in a new polycentric city. He also cites neighborhoods like Edgewater, Wynwood, and the Design District that aren’t on the Metrorail but are still growing. “That’s what I think the next phase of development in Miami is,” he said, “where we look at neighborhoods and understand what’s missing” to make them mixed-use, denser, and affordable. Optimism for density, however, is just one of many factors—climate change, transportation technology, affordability, and zoning codes, to name a few—that will shape Miami in the years to come.

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Turning the Tide

Facing rising sea levels and greater insurance risk, Southern Florida braces for relocations, new flood design standards, and more

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We're publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

The moon over South Florida looked like a swollen grapefruit in November, its reflection rippling off pools of ocean water that bubbled up through storm drains, crept over seawalls, and swallowed Miami streets. It was a “supermoon,” about 17,000 miles closer to Earth than usual, according to NASA, arriving just in time to supercharge the seasonal high waters known as king tides. The water made an island out of the lifeguards’ shack on Matheson Hammock Park, swept “No Wake” signs from marina harbors onto city streets, and marooned a live octopus in a parking garage along Biscayne Bay.

On days like these, it’s obvious that much of the region now home to about 7 million people began as a network of swampy canals meandering from the Everglades to the ocean. Sometimes nature conspires to remind the city of this fact, as it did in November 2016.

Lately those reminders have become more frequent. The rate of sea-level rise has tripled over the last decade, according to a recent study from the University of Miami, bringing with it more frequent coastal flooding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that Miami-Dade County will see about 15 inches of sea-level rise by 2045. And because South Florida sits on porous limestone bedrock, saltwater is not just encroaching on coastal communities, but gurgling up from below.

Right now it’s a nuisance, but over the lifetime of a mortgage, flooding in South Florida could threaten tens of billions of dollars of real estate and upend development in the country’s 10th largest metropolitan area. Architects, planners, and developers are just beginning to overhaul the urban landscape, laying the groundwork for a sweeping transformation of building codes, municipal infrastructure, and design norms that could save the city from rising seas.

The crucial question is: Who will change that built environment? Will it be architects and city officials, safeguarding South Florida against the effects of climate change as the world’s living laboratory for so-called climate resiliency? Or is nature coming to reclaim Miami as a swampland?

Higher Ground

South Florida’s development boom is so lucrative it seems inevitable that it will continue. Before the city was founded in 1896, however, it wasn’t clear that the mouth of the Miami River would ever be anything more than a mosquito-infested trading post—until the industrialist Henry Flagler dragged his railroad south from Palm Beach along the highest ground he could find: a coral ridge between 12 and 25 feet above sea level. The tracks reached Biscayne Bay on April 22, 1896. Three months later Miami was incorporated.

Today, Miami is a bustling, sprawling urban landscape that has been remade to suit cars, but some planners say that the same limestone ridge Flagler used could anchor climate-friendly development.

The Urban Land Institute is drafting a plan for the Arch Creek Basin, a mostly low-lying area straddling 2,800 acres and four municipalities, as well as unincorporated Dade County, around one stretch of the railroad. Primarily poor people of color, the residents of Arch Creek face a severe threat from sea-level rise—one that could eventually force them to abandon the area.

At a charette in November, designers Gustavo Sanchez-Hugalde, Max Zabala and University of Miami professor Sonia Chao presented their idea for a flood-resistant transportation hub at Northeast 125th Street. It would be transit-oriented development, dense with mixed-use buildings and affordable housing, but also with a health clinic, back-up generators and other resources that could come in handy during a disaster.

“Think of these as not just transit but resilience stations,” said Chao.

In the long run, South Florida’s scarcity of higher ground could also make its elevated areas more valuable as waters rise. That could exacerbate gentrification in minority neighborhoods with relatively high elevations like Liberty City and Little Havana.

“It’s a matter of time until investors will head for the higher land,” said James Murley, chief resilience officer for Miami-Dade County. But climate change isn’t forcing people out of their homes just yet. Asked if climate change is a driving force for gentrification in Miami, Murley is skeptical, but others are starting to look toward the future.

“Right now we’re experiencing more of the classic gentrification that comes with a growing real estate economy,” Murley said.

While the mainland mulls long-term plans to adapt to rising seas, the coastal barrier island of Miami Beach is busy building.

Planning for High Water

Over the next five years, the municipality of Miami Beach will spend $400 to $500 million on flood defenses, installing 80 new pumps, raising roads, and strengthening seawalls across the city. So far the city has funded about $200 million of that project by more than doubling stormwater fees.

A law passed last year requires the owners of buildings larger than 7,000 square feet to pay a fee if they don’t get certified as at least LEED Gold. The builders of properties that don’t get LEED certified at all get slapped with a fee equal to 5 percent of their construction costs. That could help raise money for future infrastructure investments.

Miami Beach also requires new buildings to be at least one foot above the base flood elevation of six feet above sea level. As an additional incentive for developers, the city won’t count the raised elevation of a flood-proofed site toward the project’s height limit or floor-to-area ratio.

Miami Beach environment and sustainability director Elizabeth Wheaton said the new requirements wouldn’t stunt development.

“Developers want to build here,” Wheaton said. “They’re going to do what’s required.”

The first building completed under the new elevation requirements is Jean Nouvel’s Monad Terrace, a 59-unit luxury residential tower on the waterfront in South Beach. Nouvel built Monad Terrace’s ground floor more than 11 feet above sea level, elevating all of the building’s interior spaces and its entrance high enough to ward off flooding.

Building high is an increasingly popular choice for private residences, too. The local architect Rene Gonzalez, known for his high-end modernist houses, is building four new homes in the area that are modeled on mangroves—propped up with stilts and columns for an additional layer of privacy that also affords the owner some long-term insurance against flooding. Gonzalez designed his own home on Belle Isle the same way.

“It’s a responsibility that every architect should take on,” said Gonzalez. “Building a house up is not a luxury. It’s a necessity in our current environmental climate.”

For now, however, most of that work is clustered in tony Miami Beach. In Miami-Dade County at large, where nearly half of all residents live in poverty, there are fewer options.

Because saltwater rises up through South Florida’s porous limestone bedrock, it’s not just coastal communities that are at risk. Many of the most threatened areas lie miles inland, in suburban and often low-income areas of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties that can’t afford to elevate all their homes and streets.

“It’s unavoidable that there will be relocations,” said Anthony Abbate, an architect based in Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, just to the north of Miami-Dade. “It’s a difficult conversation but I think we’re on the verge of having it. This has to be a conversation with the people, with the public.”

Miami-Dade is in the middle of a vulnerability analysis for major infrastructure, from its airport to its water system, identifying “adaptation action areas” where city planners might best focus their efforts.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and it needs to be done in short order,” said Abbate.

Some of that work is already underway. The newest addition to the county’s hospital system will pioneer a flood-friendly approach in the recently incorporated town of Doral, just west of Miami International Airport. Designed by Perkins + Will, Jackson West hospital will devote most of its 27 acres to green space and a retention pond to store runoff not just from the built-up part of the site that will house the hospital, but from the developments surrounding the site. Construction is set to begin later this year and the hospital could open in 2020.

Risk and Reward

Perhaps before it faces up to the force of nature, however, South Florida may have to reckon with its runaway real estate market. Wayne Pathman, a land-use attorney and chair of Miami’s Sea Level Rise Committee, said the face of Miami’s climate crisis might not be a natural disaster, but a collapse of the insurance market.

“Flood insurance is going to be the tip of the spear,” Pathman said. “Unlike hurricanes, which are a single event that may not happen for years at a time, sea-level rise is a constant. Once it’s here, it’s here, and it’s never going to get better.”

Pathman said some of his clients with property in Miami Beach and North Beach are already seeing a 500 percent increase in their flood insurance premiums. For now, that’s manageable, he said, because they were probably underpriced in the first place.

“When that jumps as high as $50,000 over the next 10 years, which it will, that’s alarming,” he said.

Areas that today flood two or three times each year could see water in the streets every week, and banks may stop offering mortgages there. That could have ripple effects across the region, Pathman said, jeopardizing tourism dollars and property-tax revenue that Miami-Dade and Broward counties will need to fund new climate-resilient infrastructure.

“Those are our only two industries here in South Florida,” Pathman said. “If we don’t start dealing with the insurance risk, all the ideas we come up with for future infrastructure will be cost-prohibitive because we won’t have any money.”

Reinaldo Borges, an architect who sits on the sea-level rise committee with Pathman, said the luxury houses and museums already built to deal with higher seas show climate-resilient design can provide a return on investment.

“If you design correctly,” he said, “you shouldn’t be worried about insurance risk.”

Borges has a checklist for clients who are looking to invest in the future of Miami real estate—not just flip property for a profit. It includes elevating building mechanical systems, installing hurricane-proof windows, and planning for severe floods.

“For a building like that, all you have to do before a storm is bring your pool chairs inside,” he said.

Climate-proofing one building may be a straightforward design problem. Saving a metro region of 7 million is something else.

Borges came to Miami when he was six years old, brought from Cuba by parents who sought a better life for their children. Today he has two daughters, ages 23 and 29, and he has the same hope for them.

“When you’ve got political leadership in denial, these are challenges I’m concerned about,” said Borges. “This is a world-class city, but people are starting to ask if this is the place they really want to invest.” 

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1111 Lincoln Residences

Renderings revealed for Herzog & de Meuron’s smart homes in South Beach
Fancy a rooftop retreat in South Beach? Herzog & de Meuron's got you covered. The Swiss architects, in collaboration with developer Robert Wennett, have designed two spacious homes right near Lincoln Road in Miami Beach's South Beach neighborhood. Each three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home features 1,550 square feet of outdoor space anchored by a Raymond Jungles–designed "courtyard oasis"—fancy-speak for a lush backyard area. The development's parking garage opened in 2010, but this is the first time developers have released renderings of the homes, called 1111 Lincoln Residences. The clean-lined abodes are expected to open this fall. The 2,000-square-foot homes, predictably, cost a pretty penny. For those with the cash, each $3.8 million residence affords access to an events space, over 100,000 square feet of rentable offices, and Herzog & de Meuron's house-of-cards parking garage, a structure that stands out even in a city with a number of awfully good parking structures.
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21 But Sure Not Done

Eight years in, how has Miami’s form-based code primed the city for unprecedented growth?

Over the past 15 to 20 years, Miami has become a city of condo dwellers, a shift that transformed the cityscape’s pattern of suburban sprawl and single family houses under palm trees to coastline-following mountain ranges of luxury towers that reach for the sky. In the 1980s, the Golden Girls lived in a house, but when the Kardashians came to town, they chose a condo in South Beach. 

As more people flooded into Miami’s urban areas, the city took action to help new buildings and infrastructure adapt to the urban shift. In 2008, Miami approved Miami 21, the first New Urbanist zoning code to be applied to a large, preexisting city.  The form-based code was applied to a citywide rezoning and was a huge test for an urban planning movement that is more common in small towns like Seaside, Florida, the famous Truman Show locale. The code, enacted as the growing city was quickly running out of land, has led to a reassessment of how Miami works, and has prompted a more logical regeneration of the city’s urban core.

New and old Miamians are moving into towers in areas around Downtown, like Edgewater, Brickell, and Midtown. Buildings are being built for people, not cars. Street frontages are activated. Parking garages are hidden.

Traffic, however, is getting worse. Mobility suffers with inadequate mass transit, yet people keep coming as international appeal remains as high as ever. As Miami’s density increases, the city needs more effective mass transit. Miami’s growth is reaching a breaking point that infrastructure, backed by new policy, is designed to address.

MiamiCentral, a massive new train station and mixed-use mega project, is being built in the center of Downtown Miami where an older train station, demolished half a century ago, once stood. The new station, with residential, commercial, and retail space, started as a terminal for an intra-metropolitan area high-speed rail line that in a few years will take passengers to Orlando in about three hours. MiamiCentral will also be the terminus for a new spur of Greater Miami’s commuter rail system, Tri-Rail, which will bring commuter rail into downtown for the first time.

Other new transit improvements are being considered across the city and the greater metropolitan area, including an expanded trolley bus system, a westward rail connection, a northeast light-rail corridor, and a light-rail line connecting to Miami Beach across Biscayne Bay.

Although one of Miami’s newer claims to fame, or at least notoriety, is high-design parking garages, excessive parking requirements meant for a world where everyone has a car are outdated. Parking is a persistent issue with Miami 21, as standard parking minimums are unchanged from the previous auto-oriented zoning code. The requirement to build 1.5 parking spaces per unit means that infill construction on Miami’s standard-sized 50-foot lots is unnecessarily costly and physically impractical, if not downright impossible, once driveways are considered.

Last October, the city passed a new rule that allows up to 50 percent parking reductions in transit-accessible areas with a 100 percent reduction for buildings under 10,000 square feet. The changes aim to encourage the small-scale infill urbanism that so often forms the basic building blocks of successful older cities. The main advocate behind the reduction, developer Andrew Frey, is building a small infill development without parking in Little Havana that he hopes will inspire others.

As new neighborhoods grow, special zoning districts are being created to suit them. In Wynwood, Miami’s famed mural district, the existing industrial zoning became increasingly unsuitable for a creative neighborhood where people live, work, and go out. A requirement for live-work housing created large and expensive units, not the smaller, more affordable housing that locals desired. Street conditions were basic and not conducive to the pedestrian-driven neighborhood. Last year, the Wynwood Business Improvement District commissioned a master plan that became the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District zoning overlay in July 2015. The code’s standards weren’t adequate for the evolving neighborhood, but a provision allows for these kinds of overlays.

Since the implementation of Miami 21, neighborhood groups and developers have created overlays like the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization Districts and Special Area Plans (a similar tool developers use when creating a large assemblage) to create neighborhood-appropriate zoning. Miami 21’s revisions at the neighborhood scale demonstrate both its flexibility and imperfections, but it clearly creates a nuanced framework for the city that’s simultaneously logical citywide and hyperlocal to the human scale.

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400 Collins Avenue

A rare dose of subtlety: Brandon Haw’s contribution to Miami’s parking garage scene
Miami's fetish for grand parking garages is set to continue as London-born and New York–based Brandon Haw had his design for mixed-use development on 400 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, approved Tuesday by the Miami Planning Board Commission. Sailing through with no alterations required, Haw's design, the "Torino Garage" commissioned by New York property investor Eric Hadar, joins an eclectic mix of garages in the area. Earlier this year, The Architect's Newspaper reported that six design firms joined forces to create a wacky facade for a parking garage in the Miami Design District. More recently, OMA's hole-punched Faena Car Park broke ground in the Faena Arts District and took on a more understated approach compared to previous Miami garages, most notably Herzog and de Meuron's lofty car park on 111 Lincoln Road. Haw, a former partner of Norman Foster, created a design in a similar vein to OMA's, placing subtlety over brash and grandiose aestheticism. Rising to seven stories, the garage employs a "double skin" that wraps itself around the whole structure on the parking levels. "Other parking structures often celebrate the car itself," Haw told AN, stressing that the garage was to be a "broken down" and "low-key" addition to the streetscape. As a result, the building's double skin facade system restricts views into the garage but allows air to permeate through and hence ventilate the structure. Additionally, partly due to the fact that the neighborhood is a historic district, headlights will be concealed and high levels as will noise at street level–problems the double skin answers. The skin, however, impeded the view from the building. "Parking a car is a mundane activity," Haw said, commenting on how white fins allow light to enter the garage. Spaced a varying intervals ranging from two-four inches, the white fins will also reflect the color coded interior levels. A minor, yet effective detail, each parking level has been colored in accordance to the pastel hues used by artists Leonard Horowitz and Barbara Capitman from the late 1970s that have become synonymous with Miami's South Beach. The referential design feature scored well with preservation board chair Jane Gross at Tuesday's hearing. “It’s really, really beautiful,” she said. As pedestrians and motorists pass by, the hues reflected from the fins will also vary in intensity depending on orientation, while LED lighting will provide a soft glow at night. "I wanted to treat the building as a totality," said Haw, adding that he aimed to create a "coherent four sided structure." “I’m so vested in this community that I wanted to do something that wasn’t necessarily economic, but would enhance the neighborhood,” Hadar, Chairman and CEO of Allied Partners, told the Miami Herald. “I look at this as a sculptural pedestal for the fabulous residences on top. It’s a garage, but it’s a piece of art, too, if you will. I could not be happier with the job Brandon did here.”
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Garage Mahal

OMA looks to break new ground with the Faena Car Park in Miami

Shohei Shigematsu, partner at OMA and the director of its New York office, had never designed a parking garage until Alan Faena requested one. The Argentine real estate developer and arts patron hired the New York branch of a firm based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to design Faena Arts Center, a forthcoming arts and luxury retail complex in Miami Beach, which will open to the public in late October. Upon completion, the complex will be the anchor for the Faena Arts District—a sliver of land on Collins Avenue sandwiched between Indian Creek and the Atlantic Ocean—which Faena and his partner, Ximena Caminos, plan to turn into a hub for multidisciplinary cultural activity.

OMA is designing all three of the buildings slated to open in Miami Beach come fall: The Faena Forum, a two-volume space that imitates a superimposed cylinder and cube, will contain exhibition spaces and hotel and meeting facilities; the Faena Bazaar, a luxury retail complex located in the former Atlantic Beach Hotel, which was built in 1939 and that the firm is partially preserving; and the Faena Car Park, a mechanical valet parking garage with a perforated precast concrete facade, ground-level retail, and a rooftop pavilion with panoramic ocean views.

The car park proved to be an unexpected challenge, due in part to the building’s straightforward program. The firm has experimented with various facets of parking design since the early 1990s: a 1993 proposal for the second of two libraries at Jussieu, a university in Paris, features interior ramps typical of a self-park garage, and the firm incorporated parking facilities in its 2004 Souterrain Tram Tunnel project in The Hague. However, in each case, parking was only a relatively minor consideration in projects otherwise defined by their programmatic hybridity.

The Faena Car Park is OMA’s first freestanding car garage, and the sheer absence of complex activity that stood to transpire inside the building gave Shigematsu and his design team pause when they began working on the building in 2012. “We were crippled by not having enough context or content of program,” he reflected. As they scrambled for programmatic constraints from which to begin generating a scheme for the garage, they realized the project was in fact fertile ground to set aside their usual working methods. Instead of analyzing the program, they began by developing the facade in response to code regulations stipulating that half its area should be porous to facilitate ventilation.

Parking is, famously, a prime commodity in Miami. Indeed, both the forum, which will serve as the district’s locus for arts programming, and the car park are being built on the sites of former grade-level parking lots that flanked the Atlantic Beach Hotel. Upon its completion, OMA’s car park will become part of a constellation of architect-designed parking garages that are now architectural calling cards for the city. Among these, the best known is Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road, an open-air, multistory garage completed in 2010 that doubles as a mixed-use development with luxury retail, fine dining, and yoga facilities located next to parking spots. Frank Gehry completed a parking facility adjacent to his New World Center in 2011—the same year that Perkins+Will finished its Miami Beach City Hall Annex garage. Enrique Norten’s Mexico City–based firm, TEN Arquitectos, completed the Park@420 car garage in 2010, and until mid-April, when municipal commissioners rejected the late architect’s designs for a garage in Miami’s Collins Park neighborhood, Zaha Hadid was also slated to build a parking structure.

The typology’s newfound prominence is a welcome change from the previously prevalent reputation of parking garages as dull, even dangerous, structures that have little in the way of architectural merit. “Whether you like the idea of cars or not, the reality is that parking as a structure is the first and last experience that is made,” explained Rand Elliott, founder and principal of Oklahoma City firm Elliott + Associates, which has designed five lauded car garages and published extensive research on the design of car parks. Elliott noted that institutions often underestimate the influence of their parking, treating its architecture as an afterthought: “They just don’t think it through well enough to realize how valuable [parking] is.”

On Collins Avenue, OMA leads the vanguard in Miami parking design by working both above and below the city’s surface. Approximately three dozen of the 235 parking spaces at Faena Car Park will be located below grade, a feat given the high groundwater level in the surrounding neighborhood. “When they started excavating the underground parking, there was a gigantic pool,” recalled Shigematsu. By way of resolution, the firm filled the entire cavity with a concrete lining that hermetically sealed the underground lot from liquid.

Above ground, the structure initially appears to be simple in front elevation: OMA’s facade responds to the tropical climate by imitating the brise-soleil common in Brazilian architecture. Yet the southern elevation exposes the building’s interior mechanics—an elevator that moves vehicles into place—to create a kinetic facade with relatively few elements. For all its functionalism, this feature is just as well conceptual: “The idea,” said Shigematsu, “is making the elevator itself a celebration of this building.”

The car garage emerged as a new typology, derived but distinct from storage warehouses and former horse stables in the 1920s. In 1925, Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov designed two never-built, but prescient, car parks for Paris. One was, in effect, a bridge over the Seine, with ramped decks that spanned the river and a dynamic curvilinear structure; the second was to be built on land, a cube pierced by four winding ramps that ran through its volume.

Though Melnikov’s Paris garage schemes will probably forever remain unrealized, their expressive geometries and implicit recognition of car parks as platforms for viewing the surrounding city foreshadowed the work recently completed by prominent international architects in Miami. Nearly a century later, the designer car park is just as well a destination in its own right: not merely a promontory, but itself a definitive feature of the city’s architectural landscape.

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Miami Beach backs out of Zaha Hadid–designed parking garage
The City of Miami Beach has scrapped plans for a parking garage and public plaza designed by the late Zaha Hadid. Initiated in 2011, the project was supposed to replace two city-owned parking lots in the Collins Park neighborhood, situated behind the Miami City Ballet and local library. Initial cost estimates for the spiraling, all-white design came in at $50 million, around $23 million overbudget. The city and Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) collaborated on a design that brought costs down to $24 million, but city officials were not pleased with the more minimal garage 2.0: The structure had fewer parking spaces, the plaza was smaller, there was less space for retail, and the spirited signature curves of the original plan were muted or removed. Another version of the design (estimated cost: $29 million) was a good compromise for ZHA's local collaborator, Berenblum Busch Architecture. Gustavo Berenblum, principal, explained to the Miami Herald that the $29 million version retained the project's driving design elements, but that another price cut below that diminished the "essence" of the project. Hadid had a special connection the project: Although she lived mostly in London, she owned a second home near the planned garage. Next steps? The downtown still needs parking, so it's back to the drawing board. City officials will start the process afresh and request proposals for a garage that would also include housing on the upper stories. Perhaps the money saved on the project could go towards something pressing, like saving the city from mortal inundation.