- "Ant Farm" by WORKac celebrates social interaction, sustainability, art, music and landscape. In an ant colony-inspired structure, the public spaces and connecting circulation appear and disappear behind a perforated metal screen, resembling an ant farm of public activity while providing visual contrast, shade, and protection.
- "XOX (Hugs and Kisses)" by J.MAYER.H.: appears as gigantic interlocking puzzle pieces that nestle at the corner with the forms of WORKac's façade. "XOX"'s enigmatic forms, emblazoned with striping and bright colors, recall the aerodynamic forms of automotive design and appear to float above the sidewalk below. Smaller volumes, covered in metal screens project outward and are activated with embedded light at night.
- "Serious Play" by Nicolas Buffe: serves as the entrance and exit to the garage. It is constructed with a dark perforated metal backdrop. The façade features a variety of diverse 2D and 3D elements crafted from laser-cut metals and fiber resin plastic.
- "Urban Jam" by Clavel Arquitectos: draws from the rebirth of urban life in the Miami Design District - where old structures and discarded spaces have been revived by architectural and urban designs. Urban Jam suggests a similar "repurposing" of very familiar elements, using 45 gravity-defying car bodies rendered in metallic gold and silver.
- "Barricades" by K/R: inspired by Miami's automotive landscape; particularly it's ubiquitous orange- and white-striped traffic barriers. In this case, the faux-barriers are turned right side up and form a brightly colored screen. The façade has fifteen "windows" framed in mirror stainless steel, through which concrete planters pop out above the sidewalk.
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.
Digitally-fabricated folded aluminum screen animates a utilitarian structure.In the Miami Design District, even the parking garages are works of art. The recently completed City View Garage is no exception, thanks in part to a folded aluminum facade designed by IwamotoScott. Part of a design team that included developers Dacra and LVMH/L Real Estate, architect of record TimHaahs Engineers & Architects, architects Leong Leong, and artist John Baldessari, IwamotoScott crafted a three-dimensional metal screen for the southeast corner of the garage. Digitally fabricated by Zahner, the skin's gradient apertures and color pattern transform a utilitarian structure into an animated advertisement for South Florida's hottest creative neighborhood. IwamotoScott submitted multiple concept designs to the developers. "We had three really different schemes—they ranged in their complexity," said founding partner Lisa Iwamoto. "The one they came back with was the most complex, the most articulated facade. We were really happy with the choice." The final design was influenced by a series of external constraints, beginning with the desire to conceal parked cars from view. "It's a Miami thing; they don't really want to see the cars in the garage," explained Iwamoto. She pointed to the car park at 1111 Lincoln Road, where architects Herzog and de Meuron solved the visibility problem by consolidating the parking spaces at the center of each floor, away from the periphery. "For us that wasn't possible," she said. "The cars come right up to the edge so we had to find other ways of screening them." Another factor was the location of the property line—a mere eight inches out from the floor plate. This left IwamotoScott with less than a foot for both the skin and its supporting structure. "The strategy was how to create some optical three dimensionality, a facade that wouldn't feel static, visually," said Iwamoto. "That was our starting point. Then it was a lot of tweaking and geometric studies for how we could achieve those effects and make it buildable." The metal panels' geometric folds contribute to the feeling of depth, and add the stiffness necessary to meet Miami's heavy wind load requirements. In addition, the folds create a moving display of light and color under the city's ever-shifting skies, observed founding partner Craig Scott. "The faceting of the facade was a double payoff." The aluminum screen comprises five panel types. All have the same border shape, but the dimensions of the apertures change from type to type. In early computer drawings, IwamotoScott modeled each panel type in a different color to keep track of the pattern. Over time, explained Iwamoto, "the colors became important to us, so that's how we rendered it." The client liked it, too, so the screen was ultimately painted in a custom spectrum reinforcing the aperture gradient. But while the facade is in reality a panel system, "we were interested in having it feel more like a mural than panels—almost like a piece of fabric draped over the garage," said Iwamoto. "For us it was important that the seams did not follow a more conventional pattern of vertical lines." The apertures are arranged in an offset grid, and the architects avoided a simple system of vertical supports. Instead, the skin hangs from a collection of staggered aluminum fins affixed to the garage's concrete slabs. Zahner fabricated the metal facade in their Kansas City factory. Because they were working on a design-assist basis, the architects were able to make multiple trips to the production facility. "It was cool, because they would make a panel, and we'd say, 'that's almost right'" before adjusting the angle of the fold by a fraction of a degree, said Iwamoto. "It's amazing how many ways there are to skin a cat." Happily for the architects, Zahner's in-house analysis resulted in a panel system remarkably close to what IwamotoScott had envisioned. "I'm delighted with how we ended up," said Iwamoto. "We did our due diligence [in terms of exploring alternative fabrication schemes], but it wound up that the best way to build it was the way we had conceived it." IwamotoScott also took control of an adjacent section of the garage envelope: an open entry stair, elevator bay, and multistory office block. "That was a bonus for us," said Iwamoto. "Rather than someone else designing it, it just made sense for us to do it—it was really part of our elevation." Because so much of the project budget went to the garage skin, the architects stuck with a basic storefront system. "We wanted to make something simple that still had a design character sympathetic to the garage facade." To create a similar sense of animation, they slightly cantilevered each floor and utilized glass panes of different widths and opacities. IwamotoScott completed work on the office tower through design development; TimHaahs took the reigns when it came to detailing and beyond. Part of why IwamotoScott was particularly eager to design the southeast corner of City View Garage was that it is the portion of the structure directly facing the heart of the Miami Design District. The developers' vision for the neighborhood is "such an ambitious plan overall," said Iwamoto. It is a vision that is rapidly coming to fruition, as she herself has witnessed first-hand. "From the time we started work on the project to when it wasn't even 100 percent complete, the area was transformed," she said. "That's really exciting."