Posts tagged with "Arquitectonica":

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Gravity-defying 5th and Hill tower with cantilevering pools approved for construction

The Downtown Los Angeles skyline is about to receive a remarkable addition; on September 12, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the construction of 5th and Hill, a 53-story tower with nearly two dozen cantilevering lap pools and a five-story waterfall. Designed by Miami-based firm Arquitectonica and overseen by developer Jeffrey Fish of JMF Enterprises, the tower will either incorporate 160 condos or be divided between 190 hotel rooms and 31 condos, twelve of which will have private cantilevering pools either way. Both schemes would include a restaurant, bar, and related amenities. The tower's L-shaped site faces Pershing Square Station on one side and Hill Street on the other. Above the entryway on 5th Street will be an ingenious (if not extravagant) waterfall which will obscure the 5-story parking garage directly behind it, while the 13th floor will have an access bridge to Perch, a popular bar and restaurant atop the historic Pershing Square Building. The design of the bottom half of 5th and Hill, however, is tame compared to its top half, which progressively becomes more variegated starting on the 30th floor, with pools cantilevering several feet beyond its envelope and cutting through many of its interior spaces. According to the project's website, many of the adventurous design gestures were inspired by “mid-century California design.” The tower’s design raised eyebrows when its renderings and a draft of its Environmental Impact Report were first unveiled a year ago, yet surprisingly little of its exterior design appears to have changed. This may be due to the enthusiasm the scheme inspired in the planning commission, the members of which agreed that 5th & Hill was “audacious,” “ambitious,” and had exemplary methods for concealing its parking and integrating adjacent buildings into the plan. Fifth and Hill marks the second building Arquitectonica has designed for Downtown, the first being the 19-story Emerson building on Bunker Hill, and will be the West Coast’s answer to the staggering 56 Leonard designed by Herzog and de Meuron in Manhattan (and the many similarly-styled buildings it inspired). It's still uncertain when the project will break ground, but it's estimated that construction will take 30 months.
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Arquitectonica’s second finished building is being torn down

Arquitectonica’s second completed project, the multifamily Babylon apartment block in Miami, is set to be demolished before July. Fears over the now-abandoned building’s demolition have swirled for years, but last January, the ziggurat-inspired complex had its historic designation overturned by Miami city commissioners. The building’s owner, former spaghetti western star Francisco Martínez Celeiro (known professionally as George Martin), wants to replace the 37-year-old postmodern Babylon at 240 SE 14th Street with a 24-story condo tower, a far cry from the existing five-story structure. The Babylon, with its distinctive stepped, fire-truck-red facade, made an immediate splash when it was completed in 1982 and helped propel Arquitectonica on towards larger projects. While the stepped profile, which is extruded through the long, narrow site it sits on, stood out when it was first erected, the building is now overshadowed by the surrounding condo towers in the Brickell neighborhood. While Celeiro originally sought to build a narrow tower on the site that could have stood anywhere from 48 to 80 stories, the 15,000-square-foot lot is only zoned for a 12-story building. Now, Celeiro is seeking to upzone the lot for a 24-story tower, but according to the Biscayne Times, that request is driving a wedge between the city and Brickell residents and urban planners, who fear the precedent will open the floodgates for other developers to request variances. The primary motivation for revoking the Babylon’s protected status seems to have stemmed from an engineering survey commissioned by Celeiro, who argued that the building was too far gone to repair, and the inexorable link the complex has to the gritty 1980’s—a drug trafficking-filled era that many are keen to forget. “This is the real history of the Babylon,” said Commissioner Joe Carollo in 2018, during the 4-1 vote to strip the building of its historic designation, according to the Miami Herald. “This is a place built on the cheap by a guy who was so high he didn’t know if he was coming or going most of the time. I’m amazed that we’re talking about this 35 years later. I’m amazed we have spent too much time glorifying one of the worst buildings in an era many of us would like to forget.” AN will follow up on this story once further details on the Babylon’s replacement come to light.
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Florida's tallest tower will be a vertical theme park for gravity-defying fun

Florida’s soon-to-be tallest building, SkyRise Miami, is on track to becoming the country’s sole vertical theme park, complete with a dramatic sloping outer wall that will offer thrill-seekers the option to try gravity-defying stunts. After years of setbacks and legal controversy, the 1,000-foot-tall building—like something straight out of a Mission Impossible movie—will tower over the edge of Biscayne Bay by 2023. According to Building Design + Construction, the project was designed by Arquitectonica and will begin construction early next year on a small piece of land just outside of downtown Miami. Local firms Berkowitz Development Group and Plaza Construction will lead the build-out alongside a hefty team of partners including structural engineers Magnusson Klemencic Associates, exhibition designers gsmprjct°, and engineering consultants Cosentini Associates and DVS. Composed of 30,000 tons of structural steel, SkyRise will house several observation decks that will boast unfiltered views of Miami, and will serve as an entertainment and retail complex with restaurants, nightclubs, a ballroom, and boardrooms for rent. Among its many offerings will be the Flying Theater, inspired by the Soarin’ ride at Epcot in Disney World, the SkyPlunge for base-jumpers, and the Skydrop, which drops riders elevator-style 540 feet at speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. SkyRise will also feature a zero-gravity tunnel, a transparent slide that loops outside the building, as well as a clear skydeck that cantilevers off the structure. The facility will be operated by Legends, a sports and entertainment management company owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. Among the city’s handful of mega-projects in Coconut Grove and downtown Miami, SkyRise is one of the most ambitious and most politically-troubled structures in development. Per The Real Deal, the building was approved by the city commission and local voters in the August 2014 primary election, despite opposition regarding the project’s competitive bid process. The Florida Supreme Court swooped in the following year to stop the complaint and effectively allow the project to move forward. Not only is the tower’s planned construction a breakthrough for the developers and the project’s many supporters, the design itself is unprecedented. The teams at Berkowitz and Arquitectonica told BD+C that they plan to build it with concrete in addition to the structural steel—a combination that hasn’t been done before in South Florida. Given its small footprint with the bay, the building will also have to withstand up to 186 mile-per-hour winds during hurricane season. The engineering for the tower alone, much like the attractions inside, must be groundbreaking for it to stay afloat. Many of the upcoming residential and commercial enclaves in Miami, especially those sitting directly on its waterfront, pose the same challenges for their developers and architects. Merging (literal) high design with resiliency efforts is a hot-button issue for coastal communities across the U.S. and Southern Florida. With name-brand firms like Bjarke Ingels Group, OMA, and Zaha Hadid Architects taking on larger developments in Miami, other-worldly designs are poised to not only propel Miami as an architectural attraction but also to support the city’s efforts to disaster-proof all of its latest urban advances from future storms.
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New renderings dropped for Arquitectonica's pool-topped Jenga tower in L.A.

Arquitectonica and JMF Development Co. are moving forward with their plans to building a striking 53-story tower adjacent to Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning recently published a draft Environmental Impact Report for the so-called 5th and Hill project that includes a new rendering for the transformative 789-foot tower, Urbanize.LA reported. Two potential options for the tower could be built-out depending on economic conditions. Option A for the project calls for a mix of residential and hotel programs, a scheme likely developed in anticipation of a potential recession, which could depress property values and therefore, lower the final sale price for each of the condominium units. This plan includes a 190-key hotel, 31 condominium units, and 29,232 square feet of restaurant space. Option A would include automated parking for 126 vehicles. Option B would bring 160 one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condominiums to the site along with 20,431 square feet of restaurant space. The scheme would include automated parking for 187 vehicles. The tower is planned for a tight, L-shaped site that wraps the historic Pershing Square Building, which is also owned by JMF. The lower levels of the complex would feature staggered floor plates and multi-story cut-outs that would contain amenity spaces, including the building's restaurant. A more regular, glass curtain wall–wrapped volume is set to rise above the podium levels. MJS Design Group will provide landscape architecture services for the project. As the tower rises, however, the outline of the spire is set to explode in a collection of protrusions, including cantilevered swimming pools and other amenity spaces. The protrusions start off as balconies around the midpoint of the tower and gradually increase in size and depth as the building climbs. The uppermost levels are cross-crossed by projecting swimming pools and overhanging floor plates. The project represents a modest but practical update to an earlier scheme for the project developed by CallisonRTKL. The scheme will join the nearby Park Fifth development as one of two new structures slated for sites surrounding L.A.'s Pershing Square. A team led by French landscape architects Agence Ter is working to renovate Pershing Square as surrounding blocks undergo an upscale transformation. The 24-story, two-building Park Fifth project is designed by Ankrom Moisan Architecture and will feature 660 apartments and 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. It is slated for completion in 2019. A project timeline for 5th and Hill has not been finalized.
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Undulating fins create a monumental entryway at the revamped Miami Beach Convention Center

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The Miami Beach Convention Center is getting redesigned into a new 1.4-million-square-foot complex that will include an exhibition hall, four new ballrooms, and a range of meeting spaces when complete. Fentress Architects collaborated with Arquitectonica on an undulating exterior envelope inspired by the curves of waves, manta rays, and coral reefs.
 
The facade consists of more than 500 angled “fins” constructed out of aluminum plates. Each fin is braced back structure-side and stainless steel struts tie them together to combat lateral loads from hurricanes as well as to account for acoustical vibrations. Behind the rolling facade, the building is clad in a high performance unitized curtain wall with a .23 solar heat gain coefficient. A structural steel backup with an aluminum enclosure supports the cantilevered fins every 15 feet along the curtain wall. Fentress and Arquitectonica worked closely with the fabricator to guarantee the undulating facade they had designed would be constructible. Using a combination of spline-based modeling, BIM, and careful construction drawings, the team made the fabrication and installation process seamless, architect to manufacturer. The fins act as a brise soleil and shade the glazing and interior spaces behind them at both the east and west entryways. At one particular moment on the east facade, they cantilever out an impressive 38 feet to create an exterior cover at the entry. The underside of each gap between the fins is glazed with a five-foot by ten-foot sheet of glass that slopes back towards a gutter for drainage. Each piece of glass was cold bent into place on site due to the double-curved surface it needed to achieve. While the project team embraced the shade that the fins provide as an added benefit, they did not design the facade for energy efficiency. After the team ran models to analyze the building’s performance, it became clear that the design was conceived more intuitively rather than for the sake of optimization. This allowed the decisions on fin spacing and geometry to be primarily aesthetics-driven while still providing natural shading.
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David Beckham's Miami soccer village reveals Arquitectonica's designs

After David Beckham and his Major League Soccer (MLS) partners unveiled the first glimpse of their billion-dollar, 73-acre soccer campus in early July, details about the development, and Miami’s possible first MLS team, have been coming fast and furious. This morning, Beckham, the potential Miami football club's owner and president, unveiled the new name and logo of the team. “Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami,” or Inter Miami CF, are scheduled to begin playing in 2020 if all goes according to plan and will be represented with an emblem that combines Miami’s signature pink with a pair of herons. Beckham and team co-owner Jorge Mas claim that every part of the team’s identity references Miami’s diverse global population, from the name to the “M” shape formed by the birds in the logo.
More information about the contentious Miami Freedom Park soccer complex has also been made public. The potential development would rise on the city-owned Melreese Country Club golf course, and Beckham and partners successfully convinced city commissioners to put the development on the ballot in November. If voters approve, Beckham’s partnership would lease about half of Melreese from the city for 39 years (with an option to extend their lease to 99 years), while the city would need to renovate the rest of the country club using taxpayer funds. Beckham and Mas have enlisted hometown favorite Arquitectonica to plan and design the complex. In addition to the 10.5.-acre, 25,000-seat soccer stadium that anchors the plan, Freedom Park could contain 23 acres of soccer fields, 3,750 parking spots (a radical departure from Beckham’s first stadium proposal), 600,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, 750 hotel rooms, and 400,000 square feet of offices. In the updated renderings, Arquitectonica has included a playground, skate park, and golf facility on the city-owned portion of the park, which, if built, would be constructed with public funding. The curving canopies of the stadium, which swirl around the open field and resemble an aperture, will extend out to beyond the building proper and seemingly cover other public areas. Miami residents will vote on whether to move ahead with Freedom Park this November.
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Large-scale arts district and eco-city to be built outside of Beijing

A plan to develop a major arts district and “eco-city” outside Beijing was announced by Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development on Thursday at the 16th Venice Biennale. Located in the Xinglong Valley, just 20 minutes from the city by high speed rail, Valley XL, as the project is being called, will feature a museum, an art park, arts education centers, and artists’ studios, as well as residential and commercial developments. The nearly 1,000 acre development is being overseen by Arquitectonica and the first building to open in 2019, the 8,500-square-foot Valley XL Art Center, a performance space, will be designed by Wang Zhenfei. Along with a center for modern and contemporary art, the Valley XL Museum, the Art Center will be a focal point of the development. The Art Newspaper reports that curator Li Zhenhua will be the advisor to Valley XL and the artist and filmmaker Ju Anqi will be the project video director. Valley XL is a partner of China’s 2018 pavilion, this year themed Building a Future Countryside, curated by Li Xiangxing. The pavilion is focused on the tensions—and innovations—present in the rapid modernization of the once or still rural areas of China. The pavilion presents projects that are being built or have taken place in the countryside over the last several years through installations organized by Dong Yugan, Zhang Lei, Liu Yuyang, Hua Li, Rural Urban Framework, and Philip F. Yuan. Construction on the $2.8 billion planned city, developed by Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development in partnership with Shenzhen XL Culture Development, is expected to begin the second half of this year.  
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Arquitectonica's mixed-use megaproject to replace Miami strip club moves ahead

A 1-million-square-foot, mixed-use development is set to break ground in North Miami Beach, replacing the historic Dean’s Gold strip club at the intersection of NE 163rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard. Miami-based developer CK Privé Group has teamed up with local firm Arquitectonica (no stranger to office and residential design in the city) for the project, which will be called Uptown Biscayne. While the plans for Uptown Biscayne have been presented and revised since developers purchased the current site in 2015, the project will move ahead and break ground after North Miami Beach’s City Council gave the project its official blessing on February 21. The 4.9-acre plot will eventually hold 170,000 square feet of retail, 35,000 square feet of office space, 245 luxury apartments in a 16-story tower, and 1,000 parking spaces. The development’s location is crucial to its success, as CK Privé Group is banking on the traffic (and traffic jams) at the adjacent intersection to drive visitors to the retail component. “Traffic is bad in all of Miami,” Michael Comras, president and CEO of The Comras Company, the leasing company for the project, told the Miami Herald. “But traffic is also the most important element for the retail component. If you don’t have traffic, you don’t have successful retail. We believe this location is the gateway to Aventura and Sunny Isles. Everyone who drives north into Aventura or east into Sunny Isles goes by there.” Arquitectonica has gone green for the design, incorporating a 40,000-square-feet vertical green wall across the interconnected exterior façades, as well a wide pedestrian “main street” sidewalk lined with trees and an organic “edible community garden”. The design sensibility is also unmistakably Arquitectonica’s, as all of the façades shown so far prominently feature strong lines, repeating squares, and the usage of strategically placed “gap” windows to break up the repetitive patterns. Dean’s Gold was a holdout from Miami’s “gritty” days, when Miami Vice and Scarface had cemented the city’s reputation as a drug-running capital. Opened in 1989, the land under the club was purchased for $23.5 million, and Dean’s Gold will shutter now that Uptown Biscayne has been approved. CK Privé Group hopes to break ground on the project sometime later this year.
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Arquitectonica’s Babylon building to be torn down

Only a year after Miami-based Arquitectonica’s first realized project, the Babylon Apartments, won historic designation, Miami city commissioners have overturned its landmark status to pave the way for demolition. The apartment block’s bright red facade and stepped, ziggurat-inspired shape made the Babylon instantly iconic when it opened in 1982. Located in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, the five-story building is now dwarfed by the condo towers that surround it. Designed in response to the long, narrow plot it sits on, the Babylon's stepped form is extruded back through the lot. Although the 2016 designation of the Babylon by Miami’s historic preservation board was unanimous, it was pushed through against the wishes of the building’s owner, Francisco Martinez Celeiro. Citing an engineering survey, Martinez Celeiro claims that the Babylon is past the point of repair and needs to be torn down. The latest ruling, passed on January 26, is a response to Martinez Celeiro’s appeal of the original landmarking decision. Commissioners tore into the Babylon at the hearing and ultimately voted 4-1 to strip the building of its protection status. Commissioner Joe Carollo linked the building to Miami’s legacy of drug dealing and trafficking in the 1980’s, now immortalized in pop culture through Scarface and Miami Vice. “This is the real history of the Babylon,” said Carollo. “This is a place built on the cheap by a guy who was so high he didn’t know if he was coming or going most of the time. I’m amazed that we’re talking about this 35 years later. I’m amazed we have spent too much time glorifying one of the worst buildings in an era many of us would like to forget.” While the preservation board originally cited the Babylon’s “extraordinary merit” in inciting new development throughout downtown Miami, despite the building being less than 50 years old. Martinez Celeiro’s lawyers and architectural consultants disagree, saying the building leaks and is irreparable, having been built cheaply, and that the design pales in comparison to Arquitectonica’s later works. The reversal follows a two-year-long battle between Brickell residents, architects, and preservationists and Martinez Celeiro. After the latest decision, Martinez Celeiro is now free to build a condo tower on the site and has been lobbying the city to upzone the parcel to allow the construction of a 48-story tower. The demolition would come right on the heels of Arquitectonica’s 40th anniversary. The studio’s use of bold colors and blocky forms won its buildings cameos on shows such as Miami Vice, where they helped further Miami’s image as a glamorous, modern city and propelled Arquitectonica’s expansion into an international firm.
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2017 Best of Design Awards for Mixed Use

2017 Best of Design Awards for Mixed Use: North Main Architect: Bates Masi + Architects Location: East Hampton, New York This owner-occupied architecture office and law firm is built for longevity, enhancing the property’s value with durable materials, flexible infrastructure, and adaptable spatial organization. In accordance with vernacular building traditions, simple forms and naturally weather-resistant materials are employed. Copper shingles will last through the next century, showing the effects of weathering without succumbing to them. Similarly, the cedar-plank siding will endure despite patination, bolstered by an innovative fastening method of custom stainless steel clips. These clips grip the edges of each board instead of penetrating it with fasteners, the typical first point of failure. The interior walls follow the same system, and the boards can be easily removed and replaced, providing access to the skeleton of the house. “There's wonderful layers of temporality in this project, from the anticipated patination and wear of materials to certain details—like clips and hooks—that ensure the flexibility of the spaces.” —Irene Sunwoo, director of exhibitions, GSAPP (juror) Structural, Civil Engineer: S. L. Maresca & Associates Consulting Engineers Metalwork: Cedar Design Woodwork: Peragine Millwork Windows and Doors: Arcadia Roof planters: Green Roof Outfitters   Honorable Mention Project: Brickell City Centre Architect: Arquitectonica Location: Miami Brickell City Centre presents an outdoor retail environment without boundaries. The multiblock mixed-use development totals 5 million square feet, with a three-level mall, a hotel, two residential towers, and two office towers. The project focuses on connectivity and sustainable design best exemplified by the Climate Ribbon™—an elevated trellis that recycles energy and shelters visitors.
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40 years after its founding, the landmark firm Arquitectonica continues to shape Miami and beyond

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.

Arquitectonica was founded in 1977 as a loose collective of designers working out of a Miami strip mall. The original five members were Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Laurinda Spear, Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Hervin Romney. Though Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Romney eventually went off in different directions Fort-Brescia and Spear remained as Arquitectonica and created the most important Miami architecture firm in the world. They gained early fame for their Brickell Avenue high-rise, the Atlantis Condominium. The Atlantis appeared over the credits of the television show Miami Vice in the 1980s and helped create the image of glamorous style now associated with the city.

The firm is the first one in South Florida to have an ambition larger than the city itself and has built all over the country and overseas. It now has over 850 employees working in eight other cities from Paris to Shanghai and is currently building in 58 countries around the world.

A survey of the firm’s projects currently on the boards reveals an astonishing number of large skyscraper and complexes that display its ability to create stylish exterior facades and interior public spaces.

Arquitectonica has built dozens of important buildings in Miami, but one that highlights its current design philosophy is the massive Brickell City Centre just blocks away from its early residential buildings. The Centre is a massive 4.9-million-square-foot development on 9.1 acres, including an underground car park, two mid-rise office buildings, two residential towers, a hotel with residences, and 500,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space. The centerpiece of the project is a large open-air shopping mall covered with a sculptural glass canopy called the Climate Ribbon (designed in collaboration with Hugh Dutton Associés, Cardiff University, and Carnegie Mellon University) that snakes through the projects and acts a brise-soleil and flange for catching prevailing winds. Fort-Brescia was tasked with developing the uniform look of the Centre in his signature glass-and-steel manner.

Brickell City Centre sits adjacent to the city’s geographic heart and connects to key transport nodes by incorporating the Metromover light-rail station and offering easy access to all major highways. Arquitectonica is known for developing stylish interiors and even product design (lead by Spear) but in Brickell Centre they are virtually designing a new city within a city that will likely become the new heart of the region.

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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.