Search results for "Miami Beach"

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Floating the Idea

This company is designing floating buildings to combat climate change disasters
What if, instead of washing out, a city could float when it floods? "Our system takes the onus of flood protection off the taxpayer and puts it onto the developer, the owner, and the builder. Why is the public subsidizing irresponsible construction in floodplains when there are better ways to build?" asked Greg Henderson, the founder and CEO of Los Gatos, California–based Arx Pax. The company has developed a new technology to boost resiliency in coastal areas and flood zones by building not on land, but over water. The SAFE Building System is a self-adjusting, three-part floating foundation made of precast concrete pontoons that can support not only homes, but towers and city blocks. Far from an engineer's fantasy, the system has precedent in the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, which carries Seattle drivers across Lake Washington to the suburbs, and the Mega-Float, the world's largest airport over water in Tokyo, Japan. Though the ambitious system is buoyed by Silicon Valley optimism, the design inspiration for the project is humble. Houseboats, like the ones in Mission Bay that Henderson studied in architecture school at UC Berkeley, are impervious to earthquakes and floods—a solid model of how buildings could float above disaster.
Like houseboats, which vary by region and the owner's budget, the SAFE system is replicable but responds to local conditions. At every site, a few feet of water is introduced to float the structures before any floods, like a swimming pool for buildings. The pontoons can be made of myriad materials in response to local conditions; Henderson is adding fly ash and other admixtures to ordinary Portland cement to create pontoons that have a lifespan of hundreds of years. In an explainer video, Arx Pax uses Miami Beach, Florida, as a model to demonstrate how the SAFE system could be implemented.An idea, though, is only as feasible as its permitting. Arx Pax is researching local regulations around the installation and maintenance of in-ground pools for guidance on how to pitch the SAFE system to municipalities. California's Marin County, for example, has rules that govern houseboats, "so there is regulation out there," said Henderson. "We're pushing some envelopes, but we're not doing anything new. We're pulling together existing technologies so it should be easy for people to get behind [the system]." Henderson wants communities—and the federal government—to rethink the reactive approach to disaster planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s rebuild and retreat model, he said, doesn't work when, by some estimates, sea levels could rise more than six feet by 2100. Building on stilts or doing nothing are less cost-effective than the SAFE system long-term, Arx Pax argues, because more frequent extreme weather events will continue to destroy coastlines and cities on floodplains. Even levees have problems (beyond breaches): Their slopes take up precious real estate, a proposition that may be feasible in some areas but less desirable in places with high land costs. For cities in climate-change denial, there is still time to reconsider approach to hazard mitigation. Right now, Arx Pax is in talks with FEMA to adopt the technology, and the company is working with a few flood-prone U.S. communities that Henderson declined to name. Internationally, Arx Pax is doing a pilot project with Republic of Kiribati (a small, low-lying island nation in the Pacific Ocean) to increase its resiliency.
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Death of Louis XIV to Karl Marx City

We recap the best architectural offerings from the 54th New York Film Festival
Tantalizing uses of physical space and the built environment were integral to a wide range of the 44 films from around the world presented at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 54th New York Film Festival. From those that introduce or immerse you in their locales to those where architecture is at the heart of the story, there was a lot to see. In the category of films with distinctive locates, check out:
  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is set in New York’s Chinatown.
  • Neruda follows the poet and politician’s exile in 1948 Chile.
  • I, Daniel Blake takes place in bleak, brutalist Newcastle, United Kingdom.
  • Moonlight is located in Liberty City, the poor, 95% black community in central Miami.
  • Karl Marx City is set Chemnitz (renamed Karl Marx City by East German from 1953 to 1990) and features Soviet-style factories, office buildings, and tower blocks.
  • Certain Women is mostly set in rural Livingston, Montana, a small, central casting Western town with only human-scale buildings and no chain stores.
  • The Human Surge, where viewers walk behind a character traversing Buenos Aires, Argentina through flooded streets and into houses, supermarkets, and tower blocks before flipping to Mozambique and then an ant colony.
  • A Quiet Passion, where poet Emily Dickinson is confined to her 18th century home in Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • 20th Century Women is centered in a 1906 Mission-style Santa Barbara house under constant renovation—the ceiling is taken down to its substructure, there's talk about plaster and woodwork, sanding the balustrade, repairing the green tile fireplace.
  • The Settlers, which graphically shows, from a drones-eye-view, how the West Bank settlements are deeply—and permanently—entrenched in the infrastructure.
  • My Journey Through French Cinema, whose director and producer Bertrand Tavernier shows us clips of his favorites, including The Things of Life (Les Choses de la vie, directed by Claude Sautet) where Michel Piccoli plays a Paris-based architect.
Other films use architecture more centrally, almost as characters: Paterson, where a bus driver (Adam Driver) navigates his route and walks his dog through this manufacturing town (complete with waterfalls) that was the home of poet William Carlos Williams, artist Robert Smithson, and comedian Lou Costello, half of Abbott and Costello. All the Cities of the North, an elegy to lost utopias, features abandoned government buildings laid out in star-shaped constellations. They were once a Yugoslav resort complex in Lagos, Nigeria that was transformed by residents for their own use. Then, there is a story about Brasilia, where a second, parallel city was built by the workers for their use during construction and unplanned by architects. When the Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa-designed city was completed, the workers’ city was destroyed by flooding the area to form a lake. The ruins are now under water. My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea is an animated feature showing blueprints of Tides High School, perched on a bluff on the Pacific Ocean, with designated floors by year: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Permits were falsified—discovered by a journalism student while in detention—so an extension could be built on a fault line. An earthquake causes the sinking disaster as students try to climb to the top of the building to escape. In the Death of Louis XIV, where we are claustrophobically held in the bedchamber of the dying Sun King during his last days, we feel like real-time witnesses. Louis says to his great-grandson and heir, the future Louis XV, “Don’t imitate me in … the love for the buildings … Instead, make peace with your neighbors.” The candlelit room is decked with gold brocade walls and red silk, and all who are present are festooned with gigantic wigs in elaborate coiffures, even the dying king. The film started as a performance commissioned by the Pompidou Centre. And then there are those films where place is a primary element. Dawson City: Frozen Time is an extraordinary film from the maker of Decasia that employs filmmaker Bill Morrison’s trademark use of decomposing archival footage. Here it is used to tell the story of this Gold Rush town in the Yukon, and how the history of early cinema is intimately intertwined with its fortunes. We get to know the town—its business district burned down and was rebuilt each year for its first nine years, with the population swelling and shrinking along with the gold rush like a fever dream. Its hotels, dance halls, casinos, and restaurants, have names like the Palace Grand, Savoy, and the Auditorium. The personalities connected to Dawson City would make you think it was a vital nexus: Donald Trump's grandfather, Friedrich Trump, ran hotels and brothels, and formed the foundation of the family fortune. Sid Grauman, who went on to own cinemas including Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, was a newsboy; Alex Pantages, a bartender, got the idea for his movie palace empire here. The Guggenheim fortune was made extracting minerals and brothers Daniel and Solomon started the Yukon Gold Company, which came to dominate the field here. The Dawson City of this era was represented in many films, including Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, 1925. Dawson City was the end of the line for cinemas, and distributors were unwilling to pay return carriage for film prints after screening. Many reels were disposed like all garbage, i.e., dumped in the Yukon River, but others were buried and were unintentionally preserved in the permafrost. During excavation of a site for the construction of a new recreation center in 1978, 1,500 reels of silent-era nitrate footage were unearthed, and through a series of lucky breaks, their importance was recognized and transferred to Canada’s National Film, Television, and Sound Archives, in Ottawa where 522 reels totaling 500,000 feet were deemed salvageable. Morrison weaves together these factual stories using the fictional silent films for a remarkable portrait of a town. In Aquarius, Clara (Sonia Braga) lives in a small 1940s apartment building directly across the street from the beach in Recife, Brazil. A former music critic, she is the only remaining resident, whereas everyone else has been bought out by a developer that intends to tear it down and build a high-rise. The one thing they will keep is the name, Aquarius. Clara is under intense pressure to move from her children, relatives of those who have sold but can’t yet collect, and from the new owners. Rather than tactics employed by New York City landlords like cutting off electricity or water, the developers throw a wild party, complete with porn-shoot orgy in the apartment directly above, leave feces on the staircase, hold a religious event with queues of people entering the site, and most dramatically, infest the empty apartments with termites who make dramatic patterns across the walls as they destroy the integrity of the building structure. At the Cannes Film Festival, Braga and writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho drew a parallel between the film and the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, which they say was a coup, demonstrating the rampant cronyism and corruption of then country. There was one film shown that is directly about architecture. Jean Nouvel: Reflections, emphasizes the architect’s use of light and geometry, the bold and the delicate, nostalgia and interpretation. We are taken to the Institute du Monde Arabe, the Philharmonie de Paris, National Museum of Qatar, Muse du Quai Branly, Jane’s Carousel, 40 Mercer St., 53 W. 53 St., Louvre Abu Dhabi, Doha Tower, and the Cartier Foundation, each responding to locale. Nouvel talks about the game he plays between framing and height to allow discovery of the city beyond. The film is directed by Matt Tyrnauer, whose Citizen Jane: Battle Cry for the City on Jane Jacobs will open the DocNYC film festival next month. ------------------------------------- Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, director Aquarius, Kleber Mendonça Filho, director All the Cities of the North, Dane Komljen, director Certain Women, Kelly Reichardt, director Dawson City: Frozen Time, Bill Morrison, director The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, director The Human Surge, Eduardo Williams, director I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach, director Jean Nouvel: Reflections Moonlight, Matt Tyrnauer, director Karl Marx City, Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker, directors My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, Dash Shaw, director My Journey Through French Cinema, Bertrand Tavernier, director Neruda, Pablo Larraín, director A Quiet Passion, Terence Davies, director The Settlers, Shimon Dotan, director 20th Century Women, Mike Mills, director For more on the festival, which ran September 16 to October 30, see their website.
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Tided Over

Miami battles rising floodwaters even as development booms

In terms of cities and climate change, Miami Beach is the biggest canary in the coal mine. At approximately four feet above sea level, this 19-square-mile strip of artificial and natural islands faces frequent flooding during storms and high tides. (Last September’s king tide—a colloquial term for high tide—reached 2.2 feet.)

The city is aggressively fighting the watery onslaught: Over the next five years, Miami Beach will spend $400 to $500 million in anti-flooding defenses that include pumps, raised roads, and seawalls.

This is money well spent. The Miami area sits on limestone that absorbs floodwaters and can force the deluge back to the surface, making flood control a special challenge. Still, environmental concerns aren’t stopping new developments across Miami. The economic timeframe for developers (and the residents buying and renting) remains relatively short compared to the long-term threat.

In addition to flooding, another, more insidious threat looms: Miami maintains its Biscayne Aquifer by channeling freshwater from Lake Okeechobee to push back against saltwater intrusion, which means the region may have to choose between flooding or drinking salt water. By 2060, some estimates place sea-level rise at three feet. Further down the line, questions of how federal and private insurers will provide flood coverage —and how eager banks will be to issue mortgages—may also arise.

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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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Akron to D.C.

Six U.S. cities will join tactical urbanism workshop series
Is the dawn of “Tactical Urbanism” upon us? This approach to reshaping urban environments, which focuses on small-scale interventions, is a rising trend in urban environments across the U.S. Now six cities have been chosen to be part of a tactical urbanism workshop series. Selected from a group of 18, Akron, OH; Austin, TX; Fayetteville, AR; Long Beach, CA; Washington, D.C.; West Palm Beach, FL were the lucky half-dozen who will be part of a series that aims to "jump-start" tactical urbanism in the areas. The program, which benefits from funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, aims to "advance street safety and placemaking projects such as pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, shared streets, and more." City authorities in the chosen cities will work alongside urban planning, design, and research firm, Street Plans Collaborative. The firm and city officials will design a workshop that encompasses tactical urbanism methodologies with a "hands-on" project that positively impacts a local street or public space. In doing so, the workshops will see the first physical application of the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Designa resource produced by the collaborative that specifies materials and design principles for tactical urbanism projects. “Over the past seven years Street Plans has built a practice around implementing Tactical Urbanism projects around the globe,” said Street Plans Principal Mike Lydon, who leads the firms New York office. “Our four open-source guides and recent book, along with many other resources, provide substantial case-study level information on the topic. But, we’ve heard time and again that what is needed now is more guidance about design and materials, for both city- and citizen-led projects.” “The Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design will address this need by providing design and materials information for Tactical Urbanism projects of varying time scales and level of formality,” added fellow Principal Tony Garcia, who leads the Miami office. “This new resource will help bridge the gap between city- and citizen-led projects, helping a host of stakeholders widen public engagement and accelerate project delivery and evaluation.” Meanwhile, Knight Foundation director for community and national strategy Benjamin de la Peña said: “Cities can invite more of their citizens to help shape their communities. The Tactical Urbanism Workshops and the Manual will open up new channels of civic engagement.”
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Grab a Seat (Literally, with a $500 Donation)

A crowdfunding campaign seeks $100,000 to restore the Miami Marine Stadium
The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and Heineken have teamed up for a crowdfunding campaign to save the historic Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key. Heineken is offering up to $20,000 in matching funds towards the campaign's total $100,000 flexible fundraising goal. Funding from the campaign will go towards re-opening the venue and restoring it to its former glory, starting with replacing its 6,566 seats. The project will also require repairs the structure necessitated by to environmental damage and vandalism. Since its closure, the concrete stadium has been a popular site for skateboarders and graffiti artists, and it has been covered nearly top to bottom in spray paint. The campaign is offering photo prints of the best graffiti art as incentives for a $10 donation. Miami Marine Stadium was built in 1963 on Biscayne Bay as a venue for powerboat racing events. Later the stadium was also used for concerts from performers like the Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys and spectator sports like boxing. It was closed in 1992 in the wake of Hurricane Andrew when the structure was declared unsafe under Miami-Dade County building code. The unique design of the stadium came from a 28-year-old architect named Hilario Candela, a recent immigrant from Cuba. It includes a span of cantilevered concrete as long as a football field that, which at the time of its building, was the longest in the world. The massive roof is anchored by concrete columns set as far back as possible so as to offer unobstructed views of the bay. The NTHP has been working toward saving the stadium since 2009, when they added it to their 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. In early 2016 it was the location of the Miami International Boat Show, marking the first official use of the stadium in over 20 year and bringing new awareness to the site. The organization does not have an estimated date for the project to be finished, but according to the crowdfunding campaign, the removal of the seats is almost finished. They have also received $4 million from the City of Miami towards further improvements. More details on the campaign are available here.
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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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Outdoors Are In

The Architect’s Newspaper interviews Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld

Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld is having a moment. He's designing the new Four Seasons Restaurant. He also has two large residential projects in the United States: the Jardim in New York near the High Line and the Fasano Hotel and Residences at the famous Shore Club in Miami Beach. His work displays a thoughtful relationship between interior and exterior—more specifically landscaping and architecture. It comes through in a large body of small residential and retail projects in Brazil but also in his more recent large residential projects. Senior editor Matt Shaw joined Weinfeld at the spectacular Manhattan showroom for the Jardim to discuss indoor-outdoor living in temperate climates such as Brazil and Miami, as well as places with a solid four seasons, like New York.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your approach to crafting the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces?

Isay Weinfeld: In many places where we design, the weather is so nice that we have a very strong connection between the two. It’s impossible to know if you’re having lunch inside or outside because it’s the same. In the Miami project, we have internal patios—you bring the garden inside the house. In our Havaianas store in São Paulo, the skylights are open so it can rain on the plants inside. It is on the most expensive street in the city, but they sell inexpensive flip-flops.

I love the sensation of going through a space but not knowing what is waiting for you at the end. Suddenly, it opens to an unusual space that you were not expecting. For example, at the Geneses House in São Paulo, you could enter the house directly from the street, but I made a pathway where you could also go into this garden at the back of the lot. It is very far. And when you are at the end, you turn and you see the back of the house—but it is not the back, it’s the front.

Where does this attitude come from?

I designed a house for a very important filmmaker, Héctor Babenco, and I put the garden in front of the house. Usually, I put it behind the house. But in this case, you enter from the street, and it’s a forest. You cannot see anything, and there is a path that is, like, five minutes of walking without seeing the house. The path is not covered. If it’s raining, then it’s raining.

Suddenly, you open to the house, and you are almost inside the house. This is like a film, because I was a filmmaker also. It’s a way to manipulate the emotion of people as they enter, go outside, and go inside.

So you use outdoor space as an extension of your architecture?

My architecture is very, very simple, so I hate having landscape design with the same minimal feeling, where you have one plant here, one there, one cactus here. I love lush. There should be a complete contrast between my architecture and the garden. It should be chaos like the High Line. I love the contrast between the chaos of the landscape and the very simple lines of the architecture.

Why is the outdoor space so important to a project like the Jardim, your midrise residential building along the High Line?

It is almost a consequence of the way that we put the two buildings, with an empty space in between. I think it’s better to have a wonderful garden with the kids that you can be in than a pavement, solid concrete, minimalist beautiful project without people. I think this is very agreeable for all people, for the kids, and even in New York. At the Jardim, this will be good also—even in the winter.

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L.A. artist Oscar Tuazon will recreate Steve Baer’s Zome House at Art Basel
The international annual art fair Art Basel originally started in Switzerland in 1970 and since then has branched out to Miami Beach in 2002 and Hong Kong in 2013. But Art Basel is not just about artists working in the fine arts of painting, drawing, and sculpture. This June, Art Basel in Switzerland will feature a decidedly architectural work by the Seattle-born, and currently Los Angeles-based artist, Oscar Tuazon. Tuazon's piece, Zome Alloy, on view June 13-19 in the Art Basel Messeplatz, is modeled after the 1972 Zome House designed and built by the southwest inventor Steve Baer. In the 1970s, Baer created residences—often aluminum-skinned using car tops he and his wife bought from junkyards for 2 cents—heated through passive solar energy. The zomes are different from geodesic domes, in that they use a stretched polyhedron system. "[W]hen I was about 18 I started to read the writings of Lewis Mumford and I could see that we didn't have to have this 'either-or' choice. We could have the best of both...we could have a science and technology that could be understood and controlled by the individual instead of the other way around. I found the idea very exciting and I've been trying to crack the crap in science for 15 or 16 years now. I don't claim to have gotten anywhere but I'm trying," Baer told the magazine Mother Earth News back in 1973 in a long-form interview also with his wife Holly. "I'm most interested now in taking small steps...in developing individual pieces of equipment and hardware that really work and that really make economic sense. And even this is not an easy thing to do, it's just not easy." Tuazon is a sculptor who works in the overlapping space between installation, sculpture, and architecture. He studied architecture and urbanism in college and has worked with Vito Acconci. His pieces often explore the connections between public space and architecture through raw and industrial materials. “I hope that the effect of my work is mostly physical. That’s what I like—walking through something, having an experience of the weight of things, or an experience of balance," says Tuazon. "That kind of really basic physical thing makes the work interesting; it makes it disarming and strange." Visitors to Tuazon's Zome Alloy at Art Basel this June will find an update to the Baer house, built using robotically-manufactured structural panels made in Switzerland, rather than by hand. Tuazon will use a 3D mapping of Baer's Zome House to direct the fabrication. Tuazon is also organizing and hosting a series of talks on alternative building techniques and energy from inside the zome, dubbed the "Alloy Conference," based on the eponymous Baer-led original 1969 program. On a separate note, for those in the L.A. area, Tuazon's work is on display at the Hammer Museum, affiliated with UCLA, through May 15.
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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.
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In and Outdoors
Faena House by Foster + Partners, looking inland in Miami Beach. The wraparound terraces are referred to as
Images courtesy respective firms unless noted

As more people choose to live in dense urban environments, the latest hot-ticket residential amenity has nothing to do with marble countertops or on-call concierges: It’s outdoor space, the scarcest of all commodities in an environment where, regardless of grandeur, distance from nature can take a toll on quality of life.

Outdoor spaces are showing up everywhere: In towering vertical gardens, oversize balconies, communal exercise spaces, expanded courtyards, green roofs, and bridges. Sometimes areas are carved out by necessity—as part of master plans or public initiatives—but more often they’re designed (often in coordination with landscape architects) as a way to draw new clients looking for something different than the usual sealed box in the sky.

The demand for outdoor and green space aligns with several emerging trends: Increased environmental awareness, a culture of public versus private priorities, more need for serenity, and changes in tastes in privacy and aesthetics. But more than anything, people just know it’s something they want and developers and architects are responding.

Lorcan O’Herlihy’s stepped outdoor spaces in Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood are meant to resemble green roofs, while fostering interaction between units and the street.
Iwan Baan
 

“Our spaces and neighborhoods were once geared to human scale and public space, and we seem to be going back to that,” said Eran Chen, founder of ODA New York, which is designing creative private and public outdoor spaces across the city. “In New York it’s very difficult to carve out space. But does that mean we have to compromise the quality of our experiences?”

Chen says that the most effective tool is a knowledge of zoning requirements and an ability to reshape building envelopes, creating what he calls “vertical villages” by capturing open and shared spaces when facades are shifted, lifted, or otherwise morphed. “You can put together more than a flat facade,” he said.

Outside of exploiting zoning laws, firms across the country are employing advanced construction techniques to create larger and more complex outdoor spaces. They’re building greenery in leftover and ignored zones, and they’re greatly expanding tried and true methods like green roofs, cantilevers, and patios.

According to L.A. architect Lorcan O’Herlihy, who has implemented an array of techniques to incorporate public space into his projects—from terraced green spaces to adjacent pocket parks—the upfront cost and effort pay substantial dividends. “If you create an outdoor space it makes for a better building, and for a great return,” he said.


Each unit at ODA’s 44th Street Tower will have a private 1400-square-foot outdoor area.
 

PRIVATESPACES

While balconies, roof terraces, and other private outdoor spaces have long played a role in dense residential living, they’re getting bigger, greener, and more sophisticated than ever. In many cases old typologies no longer apply: Balconies are morphing into private outdoor rooms, outdoor is merging with indoor, and roof decks are filling with amenities. Spending time outside is more enticing than ever, no matter the climate.

ODA’s 2222 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, shifts its exterior bays in and out, creating voids and projections that become large 13- by 7-foot outdoor areas. The reconfiguring, Chen said, opened up units’ views and created twice the exterior surface area of a conventional layout. The firm’s East 44th Street tower features covered outdoor spaces in gaps stretched between floors, decreasing the building’s wind load and creating radical, enclosed gardens for each unit. Each apartment will get its own 1,400-square-foot terrace, with two such spaces per floor.

The Shore Club in Miami Beach features large, 30- to 50-foot-long terraces that project off of the original, iconic David Chipperfield design.
 

“New York is very tight, and you have to be very clever how you work with the constraints,” said Hannes Schafelner, an associate at Zaha Hadid Architects. The firm’s 520 West 28th Street building overlooking the High Line uses its oversize balconies (containing large glass sliders and flooring ontinuing from the interior) to help the developer provide as much square footage as possible. “Regulations say you can build over the building line by 50 percent of the length of the building. So these balconies are 50 percent of the length of the building,” he said.

The penthouse at Foster + Partners’ 551 West 21st Street in Chelsea has a 61-foot-long pool with an infinity edge.
 

Such supersized balconies and private exterior spaces are not exceptions. At Foster + Partners’ Faena House in Miami Beach, wraparound terraces are so big that the firm calls them “verandas in the sky.” Balconies at Architecture Outfit’s Sorting House in Chelsea range from 225 to 600 square feet, while the roof deck has a shared area and private terraces on the same floor. Perhaps the most dramatic example is Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street, also nicknamed the “Jenga Building” for its wildly varying staggered glass balconies and spatial configurations. The oversized cantilevers—which vary in size throughout—don’t just give the building an unusual look, but also provide extra large private spaces for tenants in the sky. In total the project has about 16,000 square feet of balcony space.

Rooftop apartments have room for even larger private amenities. Foster’s 551 West 21st Street has its own 61-foot-long “Sky Pool” with an infinity edge that makes it seem like it’s draining straight into the river. Large rows of hedges provide privacy and add a pastoral touch.


 

10 Montieth Street by ODA gives all residents access to a sloped green roof.
 

COLLECTIVE SPACES

As residents get more comfortable sharing space with their neighbors, collective spaces are changing radically, with green roofs, amenity areas, patios, and other common zones becoming more expansive and incorporative. Landscape architects are taking on a greater role in shaping such projects and architects are finding creative areas—between floors, around perimeters, and so on—to make public.

ODA’s 10 Montieth Street’s green roof slopes down over five floors to give residents on all floors direct access. Bjarke Ingels Group’s VIA, located at West 57th Street, is a hybrid between a perimeter block and a high rise. While its northeast corner juts upward like a skyscraper, the other three corners remain low, exposing its courtyard—a green space that the firm sees as an extension of the Hudson River Park—and inner units to light and views. Hadid’s 520 West 28th Street public spaces—carved out from necessary site setbacks near the High Line—are highlighted by a ground floor plaza (developed with landscape firm Future Green) where walls and floors merge. Plantings are creatively embedded into walls and ground planes fold upward. Nearby, in Chelsea, Isay Weinfeld’s Jardim creates a lush 40- by 60-foot common area planted with mature trees and bushes.

DDG’s art nouveau-inspired 325 West Broadway in Soho has a two-tiered courtyard that connects the buildings with common amenities (left). In Tijuana, T38 Studio’s 90-unit Arboleda features 20,000-square-feet of gardens, living space and amenities (right).
 

In Los Angeles, O’Herlihy’s SL11024 building, adjacent to Richard Neutra’s Strathmore Apartments, has a stepped combination of green roofs and patios dotted with planters that are designed to have the look and feel of green roofs without the upkeep. All the terraces are close enough to the street, said O’Herlihy, that they contribute to public life in the neighborhood. In L.A.’s Arts District, Michael Maltzan has installed parks not only in obvious places like One Santa Fe’s courtyard and flexible parking lot, but under and on top of bridges between structures. He likens the project’s design to master planning just as much as architecture. In Santa Monica, OMA’s Plaza at Santa Monica zig-zags back and forth, exposing more surface area and maximum amount of public green roof space.

MAD’s 8600 Wilshire Boulevard integrates collective and individual spaces with massing and transparency, such as private balconies in a common courtyard.
 

Neighbors are not just willing to hang out together, but they’re ready to share common amenities too—no matter how highbrow. 56 Leonard, for example, features 17,000 square feet of amenity spaces on its ninth and tenth floors, including a 75-foot pool, a 25-seat indoor-outdoor screening room, a private dining room, and a children’s playroom, among other things. Perhaps the most ambitious public amenity area belongs to SHoP’s 626 First Avenue, a pair of New York towers whose connecting three-level bridge contains a pool in which users can swim from one end to the next. The space also contains a gym that provides tenants with unimpeded views of the East River.

“The most sustainable thing you can do is build density near mass transit. But it would be a dystopian world without great design,” said SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli.


56 Leonard by Herzog + de Meuron gets its iconic parti from a series of balconies created by stacked volumes.
 

DECORATIVE OUTDOOR SPACES

Sometimes outdoor spaces simply provide a visual amenity, turning green elements into large art pieces or architectural details.

Jardim, for instance, incorporates plantings onto each of its balconies, enhancing privacy and creating a natural environment for those outside, akin to planter boxes in European cities. Foster’s 551 West 21st Street includes a 20-foot-tall green wall at its drive-in entry court, and its mid-floor terrace is heavily planted to provide greenery and privacy for residents. Hadid’s High Line building has a sculpture park that is not accessible to the public, but provides an amenity for residents and passersby on the High Line.

The Jardim by Isay Weinfeld has planters that turn private balconies into green ornamentation along the High Line (left). The drive-in entry at 551 West 21st Street by Foster + Partners has a 20-foot-tall green wall (right).
 

Even a courtyard can serve as a visual-only amenity from time to time. Morris Adjmi’s Schumacher (a former printing loft building in Noho converted into 20 condominium residences) and Sterling Mason (a 33-unit condominium composed of a restored warehouse and a matching addition) feature enclosed spaces by Deborah Nevins and Ken Smith that are inaccessible to tenants, but provide a peaceful viewing area.

The inaccessible courtyard at Morris Adjmi’s Schumacher was designed by Ken Smith, who also designed MoMA’s rooftop garden.
 

“They didn’t want noisy courtyards,” said Adjmi, who admitted, ”I didn’t really understand that decision completely.” Adjmi said that pretty much every building his firm is working on has a significant green component, from a green roof and lawn at 282 South 5th Street in Williamsburg to Atlantic Plumbing in Washington, D.C., a residence with a planting strip on every side of the building, a green roof, and green walls.


The Wanda Vista Towers by Studio Gang incorporate Olin-designed public space on the river and street levels in Chicago.
 

LEGAL LANDSCAPES

It doesn’t happen enough, but some residences give back with open spaces for the general public. Often parks are demanded by planners as a tradeoff for large scale projects, sometimes they come about as a result of Plaza Bonuses, which are designed to incentivize public space, and other times they’re offered by developers as a symbiotic tool.

Koning Eizenberg’s Belmar Apartments are arranged around a bisecting, public “Living Street.”
Eric Staudenmaier
 

Thanks to its neighborhood’s master plan, SHoP’s First Avenue project incorporates a huge public space designed by SCAPE Studio that carries its language into the building through a 100-foot-tall breezeway connecting directly to the park. O’Herlihy, known for creating a public pocket as part of his Formosa 1140 in West Hollywood, is developing a similar project (its details are still under wraps) in which the city of West Hollywood leases the land from the owners. It’s a model that has proven very successful, pleasing both tenants and local residents with more public space.

The Plaza at Santa Monica by OMA has retail and a variety of uses interspersed among its rotating volumes.
 

In Chicago, Studio Gang’s massive Wanda Vista Towers will incorporate public space—designed by Olin—on both its street and riverfront levels, while nearby Perkins+Will’s Riverline will contain a river walk, retail plaza, park, children’s playground, river taxi access, kayak launch, and riverfront amphitheater.