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: Miamimaintains 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.
New York-based SHoP Architects has been named as this year's winners of the Panerai Design Miami/ Visionary Award. Now in its third year, the award recognized SHoP for their "bold, evocative architecture, philanthropic initiatives, sustainable development, and innovative practices/entrepreneurship." As a result, the firm will get to see their installation, Flotsam & Jetsam built in the Miami Design District's Jungle Plaza.
In their 20 year history, SHoP has had projects built across the U.S. but has found most success in New York City. Currently, a super tall mixed-use tower is going up in Brooklyn—the borough's first.
"SHoP is a place where people come together without any prescribed idea about what the esthetics of a building or public space should be, then we take complex problems and solve them with both beauty and technical proficiency," SHoP Founding Principal Gregg Pasquarelli said in a press release. "Working with Design Miami has been a great experience and a perfect opportunity to explore the expressive possibilities of tomorrow's architecture."
Using Chattanooga-based 3D printing and fabrication firm, Branch Technology, Flotsam & Jetsam looks to push the boundaries of the 3D-printed medium (especially in terms of scale). The installation—stylistically reminiscent of work by Marc Fornes & Theverymany—sees a series of arching bamboo legs join to form a canopy and seating area. The bamboo however, is no ordinary bamboo. SHoP chose Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to supply a biodegradable bamboo 3D print medium. This method of construction can produce forms on an unprecedented scale, and when built, SHoP's Flotsam & Jetsam will be the largest 3D-printed structure in the world.
Located in the Jungle Plaza, the installation will play host to an outdoor cultural event space. Here, talks, performances, and cocktail events will take place. SHoP's work will also be launched with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) in Spring/Summer 2017 along with a community program for bringing "world-class" public sculpture to the city.
SHoP will be presented with their award at the Design Miami/ press reception on Tuesday, November 29.
“SHoP represents exactly what the Panerai Design Miami/ Visionary Award is meant to recognize: innovation, inspiration and an outstanding point-of-view,” said Rodman Primack, chief creative officer, Design Miami/. “For the first time, we will be installing the commission long-term in the Miami Design District and I cannot think of a better practice to conceive this installation. We are thrilled with the pavilion design and delighted to honor SHoP for the 12th edition of Design Miami.”
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.
The artist Aileen Quintana is creating an homage to internet cultural relics and the dying American mall in an installation for this year’s III Points Music, Art & Technology Festival in Miami.
The “Vaporwave” genre has been called “the internet’s collective nostalgia”: a grouping of the various IRL ("in real life") ephemera that defined the activities supplanted digitally by the World Wide Web, like shopping, waiting in line, and listening to muzak in elevators. (Note: Vaporwave is very different from vaporware.) Art and music produced within the Vaporwave genre dabble in a mix of surrealism, kitsch, and nostalgia.
Quintana’s “Vaporwave Mall” takes inspiration from the genre directly and will feature a bazaar of clichés from consumer-oriented, recreational capitalism to outfit a collection of fashion storefronts and art installations at the festival. Preliminary images of the installation show brightly-painted mannequins and the wire rack scaffolding used to display merchandise in mall outlets.
The creativity festival, which Quintana cofounded in 2013, will take place in Miami's artsy Wynwood neighborhood between October 8th and October 10th, 2016 and will feature Quintana’s “mall” as a key installation. The artist told the Miami New Times this week, “Conceptually, it’s like couture club kids. I have the opportunity to associate the fashion component to the audio component and create this hybrid where the art is vivid and the creativity is more because it’s influenced by music.”
A pop-up preview of James Corner Field Operations’(JCFO) “Brickell Backyard” will be unveiled Tuesday next week. The temporary mini-gym and fitness area has been designed and installed by Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation and will provide a six-month sneak preview of what is to come for the Underline project.
The event will signal the start of the Underline's first stage of development. It's the precursor to the “Brickell Underline Park," a northern section of the Underline located near the Miami River. The park aims to breathe new life into the ten-mile stretch of underused land beneath Miami’s Metrorail, transforming it into a linear park, urban trail and living art destination. Once complete, the area will offer picnic areas, park benches, native vegetation, a nature-inspired playground, a dog park, basketball court, and art installations. In addition to this, further mixed-use parks are planned for other parts of the Underline, all of which come under JCFO’s master plan for the site.
According to the Underline website, the project is "aimed at encouraging Miami-Dade residents to walk, bike or ride transit as an alternative to driving... [it] will serve as an enhanced mobility corridor, designed to better connect communities, improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and promote a healthier lifestyle with accessible green spaces and park amenities for exercise and relaxation."
The Underline is the product of a public/private partnership among Miami-Dade Parks, Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works, and Friends of The Underline. It also fits within the county’s wider scheme of the Masterplan Greenway network that comprises 500 miles of trails and connected public spaces.
As for the Underline’s “Brickell Backyard” fitness area, funding for the pop-up gym equipment—amounting to a total of $47,000—will come from the Community Outlay Reserve Funds (CORF).
Miami’s Urban Design Review Board (UDRB) approved a micro-living apartment tower with no parking from entrepreneur and developer Moishe Mana and Zyscovich Architects. The design was approved by the city’s Urban Design Review Board this morning along with the Miami Worldcenter plan, a 10-block, 30-acre development led by Elkus Manfredi architects. The Worldcenter's blueprints were approved despite general concerns over landscaping and architecture.
These two schemes indicate that Miami's downtown is on the brink of some major changes.
The micro-living tower received an enthusiastic response; according to the Miami Herald, landscape architect and board member Gerald Marston called the tower by Mana and Zyscovich Architects a “very, very creative addition to the city.” Mana and Zyscovich Architects’ tower, with its small, affordable units and no parking garage, is a welcome change to downtown Miami, which has earned a reputation for its over-the-top condos and elaborate parking garages.
UDRB makes recommendations to Miami’s city planning director and had rejected a previous iteration of the Worldcenter plan in 2014. The new Worldcenter complex will replace a massive, multi-block indoor mall with distinct retail buildings, a Marriott Marquis, convention space, and 4.5 acres of open area that will include a north-south pedestrian paseo and two outdoor plazas. Along with its approval, UDRB made recommendations that the open spaces be developed further and that retail shops be added to the ground level. This plan is intended to bring continuity to the Park West neighborhood and make it more available and welcoming to pedestrians.
Pedestrian-friendly, micro-living, car-free? What does Miami think it is? L.A.?
New York-based design studio DFA has opened up a new retail arcade on 50 Northwest 24th Street in Wynwood, Miami. Housing nine retail outlets, the building—which is formally known as "Wynwood Arcade"—features a vibrant mural set against an angular Cor-Ten steel facade. DFA's Founding Partner Laith Sayigh spoke to The Architect's Newspaper about the arcade's design.
"We were very conscious of what Wynwood had been and what it still was," said Sayigh as he explained how DFA were acutely aware of how Wynwood was made part of Miami's Design District. "We never saw it turning into a trendified neighborhood," he continued, adding how the area had maintained its sense of "grittiness" as well as being an affordable place for local artists.
As for the design, Sayigh recalled elements of his childhood to drive landscaping decisions in the project. As a result, indigenous Floridian Coccoloba uvifera's (sea grape) have been included to act as social connectors, a feature that reminded Sayigh of his youth when such trees where well-used gathering spaces. The trees aid the creation of what Sayigh describes as a "formal oasis"—an open, shaded area with white surroundings in the center of the arcade. This feel is replicated on the rooftop where further greenery can be found along with reasonable views—for a low-rise building—across the area.
These spaces, however, are much more reserved compared to the arcade's facade. With both angled chunks seemingly sliced from the building, the facade comprises Cor-Ten steel with a colorful mural spanning the length of the elevation. Sayigh mentioned how he and his studio had a "fascination" with the idea of creating a "canyon experience" for the retail frontage. The interior and rooftop layout reflect this approach with clear diagonals running through the building either as openings or changes in level. To amplify this, Sayigh added that the material choice of Cor-Ten steel symbolized these supposed "cuts through the building's flesh" creating the impression of "bleeding" while also pursuing the sense of grittiness native to the vicinity.
The mural, which offers a colorful contrast to the weathering steel, currently features an array psychedelic symbols and tones. The design came from an artist local to the area and is due to be changed every two years. Speaking of future plans, Sayigh added how DFA were looking into installing an outdoor screen on the roofdeck to encourage more visitors not just at daytimes with the offer of outdoor movies being shown.
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.
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.”
Royal Caribbean Cruises has selected internationally-based Broadway Malyan to design a snazzy new cruise terminal at the Port of Miami (PortMiami).
The 170,000-square-foot terminal, to be built on land leased from Miami-Dade county, will be the homeport for Royal Caribbean International ships, including a 5,400-passenger vessel that's currently the world's largest pleasure boat.
Global firm Broadway Malyan beat out four firms—Zaha Hadid, Aedas, BIG, and Asymptote—to score the commission. The building's working name is the Crown of Miami because, when viewed from the water, the terminal resembles regal headwear. When seen from the east or west, the structure resembles a capital M (for Miami), or waves, if semiotics are not your thing.
The terminal is the first North American project for Broadway Malyan. The structure's prefabricated frame and floor panels were utilized to quickly build out the building's core, while steel beams will create the profile below the waterproof aluminum–clad roof.
“Miami-Dade County is happy to welcome Royal Caribbean’s expansion at PortMiami, and all the economic benefits that come along with it,” said Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade county mayor, in a press release. “This public-private partnership will have an estimated economic impact of $500 million and generate approximately 4,000 jobs. Royal Caribbean has been an important part of our world-class community for almost 50 years, and this expansion will once again make PortMiami Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise port in the world. I thank them for their continued investment in and commitment to Miami-Dade.”
At this time, PortMiami serves 750,000 Royal Caribbean customers annually. Once the terminal's completed, the company expects to welcome at least 1.8 million passengers to the city. The deal goes before the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners for approval on July 6.
Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2017 and the terminal is slated to accept passengers by the fourth quarter of 2018.
One of Miami-based firm Arquitectonica’s first buildings, the Babylon Apartments, is at risk of demolition if its longtime owner—former spaghetti western star Francisco Martinez-Celeiro (also known as George Martin)—gets his way. With its bright red ziggurat form, the six-story structure is an icon of subtropical postmodernist architecture in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood and one of the signature buildings of the city’s 1980s Miami Vice era. The Babylon also earned Arquitectonica its first international award, a Progressive Architecture Citation Award, only a few years after the firm’s founding in 1977.
Although the Babylon is 34 years old—well below the typical fifty-year cutoff for historic designation—the City of Miami’s Historic Preservation board is considering the fate of the iconic structure on the grounds that it demonstrates “exceptional importance.” A final-draft historic designation report was publicly released earlier this year, causing a flurry of press and community awareness. A Change.org petition was started. The modernism-preservation group Docomomo rallied for its protection.
This attention is with good reason: Arquitectonica designed the Babylon in 1979, the same time as the much larger Palace Condominium on the other end of Brickell Bay Drive (although the Babylon wasn’t built until 1982). “It was one of our first buildings, our first building that’s not a house, and it hasn’t been kept up that well over the years,” Arquitectonica principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia recently told a group of University of Miami students.
Indeed, the building’s owner was about to obtain a demolition permit for the site in hopes of constructing a much taller building when historic preservation board member Lynn Lewis requested a report from city staff on May 3 on its potential for designation, setting in place a 120-day moratorium on demolition.
Celeiro has owned the Babylon since 1989, and has been trying to demolish the building and get its land zoned for a 48-story structure for the past two years. Up until recently it was at least partially occupied, although according to neighbors nobody has been seen inside lately.
Amidst all of this, the usually outspoken Fort-Brescia and his wife, Laurinda Hope Spear, have declined to give their own opinions on the question of preservation itself. “I shouldn’t talk about the Babylon being demolished because I’m not the one to talk about that,” Fort-Brescia said.
Architect Andrés Duany, a former principal at Arquitectonica and founder of Duany Plater-Zyberk, was much more outspoken. “Arquitectonica is the most important firm in Miami, probably in the Caribbean, possibly in the southeastern United States, in the last 50 years—since Morris Lapidus,” Duany told the Miami Herald. “If they were to demolish this building,
it would be an act of cultural barbarism. Completely beneath the artistic reputation that Miami thinks it has. And it would betray that we are nothing but a bunch of swamp-dwelling barbarians. Still.”
When Miami’s historic preservation board considered the Babylon for historic protection at its July 5 meeting, the designation passed with unanimous vote of 6–0. Although this makes the designation official, the owner’s legal team submitted an appeal challenging the designation on the last day of the 15-day appeals period. The City Commission will hear the appeal on November 17, 2016.
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.