Posts tagged with "April 2017 Florida Issue":

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Miami’s jet-set mixes art, design, and luxury, leading to a new wave of high-design condo projects

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.

Miami has a certain glitzy, glamorous character unique to its shores and streets. In recent years, the tropical climate and Latin flair have brought an influx of foreign investment and international attention. South Beach, the Design District, and events like Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami/ have attracted not only a moneyed crowd of beach-goers, but one that—in a new wave of spending and development—not only wants nice things, but cool things. This new attitude about art and design as an essential element of luxury has spawned a wave of condo projects that incorporate “starchitects” as part of the sales pitch—from Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid to Isay Weinfeld and Renzo Piano.

“Having an extremely high caliber of art, design, and architecture elevates the entire property to a work of art itself. This creates timeless value that speaks to a very niche type of buyer and has the ability to supersede shifts in the market,” Edgardo Defortuna, founder and president of Fortune International Group, said.

Many of the condo projects are based on the old hotel-apartment model, where the most affluent guests would simply live in a resort. But today private, all-residence buildings come equipped with all the amenities of a Florida resort, and then some.

Take a look at the latest batch of residential towers:

Eighty Seven Park 8701 Collins Avenue, Surfside Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop with West 8 Status: Under construction Units: 68 Floors: 16

After controversially razing Morris Lapidus’s Biltmore Terrace Hotel, the developers at Eighty Seven Park not only enlisted Renzo Piano to do the building, but they also tapped West 8 to landscape a 35-acre, public oceanfront park. The Towers by Foster + Partners 1201 Brickell Bay Drive, Miami Architect: Foster + Partners Status: Approved Units: 660 Floors: Unknown Announced in November 2016, this 1,049-foot-tall building got FAA clearance and is poised to be one of the tallest towers in Miami—it could be the city’s first completed supertall. Parking will be submerged and it will feature 56,0000 square feet of open space at ground level, including a through-block arcade. The Surf Club | Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences 9011 Collins Avenue, Miami Architect: Richard Meier & Partners Status: Under construction Units: 150 residences Floors: 12 The historic Surf Club is one of the most famous low-rise hotels in Miami Beach. It is being converted into a large block of residences, but will include 77 hotel rooms. Parts of the old resort will be saved, including the ballroom, which will become the new reception area.

SLS Brickell Hotel and Residences 1300 South Miami Avenue, Miami Architect: Arquitectonica Status: Completed 2016 Units: 124 Floors: 55

This combination condo tower and hotel features an iconic mural on its exterior, painted by Brooklyn-based artist Markus Linnenbrink. The hotel interiors are designed by Philippe Starck and the tower is host to Bazaar Mar by Chef José Andrés, a tile-clad seafood joint closer look on page 6). Grove at Grand Bay 2675 South Bayshore Dr, Miami Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Status: Completed 2016 Units: 96 Floors: 20 This spiraling stack’s structure is left exposed with raw concrete columns that slightly lean askance. The concrete floor plates are also exposed and a lush garden by Raymond Jungles complements the canopy and planters made of concrete, which Jungles called “the natural stone of South Florida.” One Park Grove 2701 South Bayshore Drive, Miami Architect: OMA Status: Under construction Units: 54 Floors: 20 Three towers are rising on the Coconut Grove Bank site, where a charming mid-century bank will be demolished and replaced by a new, OMA-designed facility as part of the area’s makeover. The project also includes performance spaces on the ground level. OMA won a high-profile competition for the project, beating Diller Scofidio & Renfro, Christian de Portzamparc, and Atelier Jean Nouvel. Jade Signature 16901 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach Architect: Herzog & de Meuron Status: Under construction Units: 192 Floors: 57 Every inch of this Sunny Isles Beach tower is designed, from concrete skylights in the common areas to the double height “Sky Villas” just below the $32.9 million penthouse. One Thousand Museum 1000 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) Status: Under construction Floors: 62 Units: 83 The layouts of the units change as this massive sculptural facade weaves its way up the structure. At 709 feet, it will be the tallest ZHA project to date and one of Miami’s altitudinous when completed. Fasano Miami Beach 1901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach Architect: Isay Weinfeld Status: Approved Units: 67 residences Floors: 22 The Shore Club has a long history as one of the iconic hotels on South Beach. This stylish renovation—by HFZ Capital—will convert the hotel into condos, but the public pool and hotel spaces will remain under the label of Brazilian hospitality superstars Fasano. The pool will be surrounded by five two-story beach homes.
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This Miami studio creates mesmerizing artworks of the city’s original architects: corals

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.

“Corals are the first architects on planet earth and the only organism besides humans to create things you can see from space,” said Colin Foord, marine biologist and cofounder of Coral Morphologic, a multimedia aquaculture studio and science lab out of Miami that is as focused on studying and growing corals as it is capturing and sharing their unique relationship to the city. “Miami has been submerged and emerged multiple times over recent and long-term geologic history,” explained Foord. “Coral keystone mined from the Florida Keys was used all over Miami—much of the city is made from marine calcium carbonate, some of which is the coral skeletons themselves. That is the baseline of our metaphors: the similarities between the city being like a coral reef and the coral reef being like a city. A reef is a 3-D ecosystem that is urban life on top of urban life; it’s fast and colorful and full of diversity.”

Coral Morphologic films the corals growing in its lab and then composes unique soundtracks for the videos to create mesmerizing artworks that are equal parts Planet Earth and Acid Test. The films are usually captured in a single shot using high resolution to capture the corals’ unique fluorescent qualities, and sped up to showcase the corals’ movements, which otherwise happen at a rate slower than humans want to watch.

In late February, Coral Morphologic teamed up with independent cinema nonprofit Borscht Corporation, music, arts, and technology festival III Points, and alternative band Animal Collective to create a site-specific performance at the Frank Gehry–designed New World Center in Miami Beach. Using multiple projectors, Foord and his cofounder, musician Jared McKay, screened their coral videos on all five of Gehry’s iconic sails while Animal Collective performed an hour of new music inspired by the reefs. According to Foord, the New World Center has one of the most advanced audio-visual systems in North America and the massive, swooping sails—the largest is 7,000 square feet—lend themselves well to the immersive experience. There are plans to adapt the performance to a planetarium setting in order to bring it to more audiences in the future.

This is the second performance on which Coral Morphologic, Animal Collective, and Borscht Corporation have collaborated: In 2012 they presented a film on the outside of the New World Center. Previously, Coral Morphologic has projected its coral videos on architecture around Miami and created a large-scale installation in 2009 at Miami’s Art Basel. “By projecting corals onto cement and limestone walls, we are sort of referencing the geologic path,” says Foord. “All of the city was once under water, so it’s a very pertinent reminder that the coastline is not a static thing. We are essentially creating artificial reefs because, when the sea level rises and the buildings go under water, the corals will recolonize the cement—essentially, the bones of their ancestors—and they will inherit the city.”

Foord and McKay believe that humans have much to learn from corals, from their slow timescale (there are corals alive in Florida that predate Columbus’s arrival to the New World) to their adaptability. For example, corals now inhabit Biscayne Bay, a formerly brackish, mostly freshwater site turned saltwater bay, and have even glommed onto manmade infrastructure, including highways and artificial islands. They have survived numerous climate shifts, an impressive feat considering that corals are cemented in place and cannot leave if an environment becomes uninhabitable. According to Ford, “Miami has sort of inadvertently become a coral laboratory funded by taxpayers, and if we can begin to understand how coral can adapt and respond to this environmental upheaval then perhaps Miami can be a glimmer of hope in adapting to these changing environmental conditions.”

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Luxury condo tower Icon Brickell’s pool springs a leak

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

According to Miami’s new architecture website Sean of Miami, the pool at the luxury condo tower Icon Brickell has been having problems with its rooftop pool leaking. After a string of repairs the pools were still leaky and in order to fix the issue, construction workers were forced to cut down dozens of mature shade trees.

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Philippe Starck crafts nautical dream world for new Miami restaurant

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.

Chef José Andrés, James Beard Award winner and pioneer of molecular gastronomy, will lead the culinary team of Bazaar Mar, a new 7,200-square-foot restaurant just south of the Miami River in Arquitectonica’s newly built SLS Brickell tower. Designer Philippe Starck crafted a nautical dream world complete with mythical sea beasts, picturesque coastal vignettes, and a characteristic white and navy color palette.

The main space is composed of two dining rooms and a raw bar materially connected with over 6,000 hand-painted tiles featuring the drawings of artist Sergio Mora and manufactured in Spain by Cerámica Artística San Ginés. The tiles completely cover the walls and ceiling, painted in a Delft Blue pastiche that is typical of 16th-century Dutch pottery. The murals are ornamented with gilded crustaceans and cabaret-style mermaids that dissolve the otherwise solid walls into surrealist other worlds. Likenesses of people involved in the project appear throughout the murals including Chef Andrés. The furnishings are varied, including smooth marble-topped tables, upholstered love seats, and stark white wooden chairs, creating a visually heterogeneous atmosphere against which the maritime fantasy emerges.

The bright dining room is contrasted with a detached cocktail bar finished in black and gold tiles of the same stylized motif. The total effect of Starck’s design fittingly underscores Andrés seafood-centric menu and draws from the aura of Miami’s burgeoning art scene.

Bazaar Mar 1300 South Miami Avenue, Miami Tel: 305-615-5859 Designer: Phillipe Starck

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Shulman & Associates blends global influences and new urbanism into its Miami practice

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.

A native Floridian, Allan Shulman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, completed his postgraduate studies at the University of Miami, and has since settled in Miami. It’s no surprise then that he describes his firm, Shulman & Associates, formed in 1996 with wife Rebecca Stanier-Shulman, as a “regional design studio” (emphasis on studio).

Shulman though, draws influence from a variety of locations, all urban: New York and Paris—he worked briefly in both—and Tokyo, where he studied for a year at Waseda University while taking a break from his undergraduate program at Cornell.

Shulman’s main focus, however, is Miami Beach, a city that has been at the forefront of his academic interests and throughout his career as an architect and professor of architecture at the University of Miami. With the Nolli Map in one hand and new urbanist principles in the other, Shulman described the city as the “perfect laboratory” for learning how to “use typologies as a basis for new design ideas.”

A fascination with public space and semi-private networks, as well as an engagement with the urban environment are defining aspects of Shulman’s approach to work. “We start by thinking about how we can expand, engage, and integrate into the public space and existing networks,” he said. “We always try find one or more elements of the project that achieves that.”

Betsy-Carlton Hotel 1440 Ocean Drive, Miami

Bridging the 1938 art deco Henry Hohauser hotel to its new addition by Shulman is a silver sphere that disguises a pedestrian connection between the two buildings. The elliptical enigma transforms one of the many circulation arteries that run through the building’s site into public art. A cafe extension on the building’s side has the same impact: Triangular in plan, the cafe enhances the east-west alleyway that takes pedestrians from Española Way to the ocean by utilizing a landscaped roof deck as an amphitheater for poetry, also aligning with the hotel’s historic mission of cultural programming. Billboard Building 3704 Northeast 2nd Avenue, Miami A pertinent example of Shulman’s philosophy can be seen in the Billboard Building in Miami’s Design District. Situated roughly 10 feet away from the elevated I-195 that heads to Miami Beach, the project sees a three-story 1920s commercial building joined to a sleek 90-foot-tall addition. Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal, Orlando The 1,200-key hotel employs a post-war aesthetic prescribed by Universal Orlando Resort. “As architects, the challenge was to make the language feel new again and to avoid being purely retro,” said Shulman. A central plaza-pool deck (once a necessity for the post-war vacationing class) is enlivened by amenities such as play and picnic areas, ping pong tables, and sand pits. Children can play as parents monitor from their balconies, all of which look into the space. Jugofresh Wynwood Walls Wynwood, Miami Located in the warehouse complex of Wynwood Walls—an area that features a coterie of industrial buildings covered in murals—is an outlet for juice and food bar Jugofresh. Sacrificing space to the public, Shulman proposed opening up two garage doors at either end of the building to activate a plaza once blocked from the street. A folding glass wall blurs boundaries further and creates a “breezeway” that features a wall of fans—an alternative Shulman pursued to avoid air conditioning the space. Jugofresh now uses the wide floor plan to host yoga classes and other activities. Inside, almost every shade of green abounds, employing a color palette as vibrant as its exterior (which couldn’t be changed).
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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.

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Jorge “The Condo King” Pérez: Trump’s wall is “the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life.”

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

In a now-par-for-the-course Trumpian weaponization of identity politics, the president asked Related Group president Jorge “The Condo King” Pérez—of Argentinian descent—to help build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The real estate tycoon, who is friends with Trump and has built a couple of buildings with him, said that he declined nicely and made a joke about which side he might end up on, according to Bloomberg. Pérez said later that “The wall is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life.”

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Verner Panton–inspired playground coming to Fort Lauderdale airport

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.

Work on a $295 million modernization plan for the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s Terminal 1 by multiservice firm Gresham, Smith and Partners is nearly complete. The refresh, part of a slate of upgrades that will transform the regional airport into an international and domestic hub, will also host a 2,000-square-foot art installation and playground designed by architect Volkan Alkanoglu.

Alkanoglu’s Cloud Scape, commissioned by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners’ Cultural Division and located along a mezzanine level adjacent to one of the terminal’s busy ambulatories, is “inspired by the idea of aviation and literally translates it into a physical environment at the terminal” Alkanoglu explained. The playscape—made up of four discrete structures arranged linearly in a sky-blue-painted room—evokes the larger-than-life cumulus clouds one sees from an airborne plane and is, according to the architect, partially inspired by 1970s visionary designer Verner Panton’s Visona 2 installation, a “fantasy landscape” made up of a series of extruded, occupiable shapes.

Functionally, the caricatured shapes are designed to facilitate movement and play: They feature slides, portholes, and climbable surfaces all scaled to tot dimensions. The structures are for “playing in the clouds,” the designer explained. “Before you take off or after you land, you have the ability to immerse into this landscape of clouds.” Each is also designed to facilitate a different type of diversion. One takes the shape of a large donut, with a bubbly hole cut out of its center. Another is deconstructed, with each of the three constituent cloud profiles separated out to create a sitting shelf, another donut-hole-penetrated mass, and a small slide. The third is made up of cloud-shaped wedges that come together in a tight corner. And the fourth structure is more solid, with supple climbing surfaces, a rounded-step ramp, and another tunnel.

Of particular concern for Alkanoglu were the strict fire- and life-safety codes the project had to meet due to its airport setting and the fragile nature of its fledgling users. The structures are built out of Fire 1–rated Medite, a type of medium-density fiberboard, painted in white automotive paint and finished in clear polyurethane. Regulations by the National Recreation and Park Association also played a role in the design, dictating the spacing—six feet—between the structures as well as the detailing for various edge and corner conditions. Everything sits atop light- and dark-blue colored rubber flooring.

The project, currently in the permitting stages, will be fabricated by Indianapolis-based Ignition Arts and is expected to be complete May 2017.

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A Planet Hollywood becomes a Victorian observatory in Orlando’s Disney Springs

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.

When it comes to theatrical architecture, Disney rarely disappoints. So when it came time to remodel the spherical Planet Hollywood in the Disney Springs Development, it turned to Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects to double down on the theme “Dine Amongst the Stars.”

Disney Springs is located near Disney’s collection of theme parks in Orlando, Florida. The recently expanded district is home to retail, dining, and entertainment, all modeled after a centuries-old American town that evolved along an alternate timeline to our own. The remodeled Planet Hollywood was envisioned as a stand-alone destination while still fitting into this fantastical setting.

Leveraging the existing iconic dome of the Planet Hollywood, Elkus Manfredi reimagined the building as an epic late-19th-century observatory. A new brick base, complete with arched windows and truss details, adds 5,000 square feet to the project. A tensile Teflon-coated silver fabric resurfaces the dome, referencing the metal domes of vintage observatories, and completes the thematic exterior transformation. Outdoor seating and an exterior stair, encased in a radio-tower-esque structure with another exterior bar, give guests a whole new set of dining options.

The interior of the spherical building has four levels. At the heart of the space, a mock vintage telescope rises through all three of the main dining and entertainment stories. Throughout the whole project, planetary and stellar motifs adorn everything from the custom carpet to the multimedia screens, but each floor has its own character. The main dining level is large and open, connected to the outdoor terrace overlooking Disney Springs. The second level is more intimate, with a smaller dining area and a lounge area geared toward adults. The top dining level on the fourth floor is the most intimate space in the restaurant. Guests here are closest to the dome and the projected stars on its inner surface.

While the restaurant will no longer sport the familiar 1990s Planet Hollywood branding, that does not mean that everything will be replaced. Multiple displays of Hollywood memorabilia are still part of the project’s experience.

The timing of this transformation seems only appropriate. As NASA continuously announces the finding of exoplanets in neighboring star systems, perhaps this new observatory will help Disney discover its own planet… Hollywood.

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Miami’s infrastructure woes run deep, but the city has its eyes set on “huge cultural change”

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.

Talk of “infrastructure” may be one of the few things—if not the only thing—that comes close to uniting Democrats and Republicans at the moment. It was transit infrastructure, of course, that literally united the states of America: originally with railroads in the 19th century and later with interstates and automobiles in the 20th. Today, however, some cities’ prevailing love affairs with the car have become rather one-sided.

Polluting air and clogging roads, vehicles choke our cities. Miami ranks fifth nationally and tenth globally for congestion, as residents spend 65 hours in traffic per year on average, according to INRIX, a global traffic researcher that uses big data. Adding real injury to insult, the state’s stretch of the I-95 is America’s most deadly, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There is a financial burden to excessive traffic too. INRIX estimates that congestion costs Miami drivers $3.6 billion per year (remember that figure). Additionally, drivers pay out an average of $628,000 every day in tolls, just for the privilege of using the Miami-Dade Expressway.

Cars aren’t cheap, but what is the alternative in an auto-dependent city like Miami? Director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) for Miami-Dade County Alice Bravo said that she wanted to make Miami a “car-optional community,” where people can get to “all the different regions within the county using reliable public transit that’s convenient and helps people save time.”

A plethora of schemes and projects are now occurring in and around the city, such as high-speed regional rail, local rail, bus, bicycle, and pedestrian routes, water travel, and carpooling. Miami has gone from having nothing concrete in the pipeline for years to everything happening at once, and this coincides with a development boom that is more tuned for urban living than previous waves of development.

Bravo said that the backbone of the infrastructure surge is the Brightline, a completely private, approximately $3 billion scheme by All Aboard Florida. The “higher-speed” (Note: not high-speed) rail service runs the 235-mile stretch from the Orlando airport to Downtown Miami. The new line will reduce travel between Orlando and Miami from four hours to two and a half, for about the same cost as driving.

Such a commuter-rail service may sound familiar: In the late 19th century, the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) was developed by Henry Flagler. Flagler’s railway ran from Jacksonville and was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world.” The commuter rail prevailed until the 1960s when the line was used to transport freight only, which it still does to this day. Unsurprisingly, then, All Aboard Florida is a sister company of the FEC and the new tracks will be laid along the existing lines.

Designing the Miami station, as well as those in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) who are working with Miami-based Zyscovich Architects. Design principal Roger Duffy explained how the stations would work with the existing infrastructure around them: “At Fort Lauderdale, we’re looking to link up with a bus service that will connect the cruise port and the station.” The city is also pressing on with plans for a streetcar system called “The Wave” that would connect with the station as well.

Meanwhile, at West Palm Beach, the 60,000-square-foot station is located at the center of downtown and will connect with the existing trolley network as well as Tri-Rail and Amtrak. In Miami, the station inhabits a similar location. A zoning override that turned the area into a special transit district was required to build the station, and tracks here are elevated 50 feet into the air so that the 11,000-foot-long station can bridge roads and pedestrian pathways.

Like any contemporary train terminus, the station will offer a ton of retail space, with room for a food court too. Duffy, however, stressed that the station was “not like duty-free at an airport,” where you have to weave through shops to get anywhere. Amenities will also cater to the area outside the building. Space for food trucks—a hit in Florida—has been provided, while skylights where the station bridges the streets offer daylight.

The Brightline train itself was designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group—an in-house strategy and technology studio at the New York architecture and design studio. The LAB at Rockwell Group worked with All Aboard Florida to conceive the Brightline name, brand platform, visual identity, and designed the train’s interiors as well as the exterior graphics. In addition to this, one of Rockwell Group’s architectural studios designed the interior check-in areas, food and beverage areas, and lounge experiences for all four Brightline stations.

Using the Brightline project as a springboard, Bravo is embarking on a $3.6 billion (remember that number?) transport scheme. Part of “Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit,” otherwise known as the S.M.A.R.T. plan, 82 miles of track will be laid along six transportation corridors that involve local services, including the suburban Metrorail and the elevated monorail Metromover.

In addition to new tracks, existing tracks are also finding a new lease on life as a haven for pedestrians and cyclists. Known as the “Underline,” the rails-to-trails scheme, comes from James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)—the same firm who developed New York’s hugely popular High Line.

As one might guess, the scheme involves area underneath the Metrorail being turned into a landscaped oasis filled with pedestrian paths, cycle lanes, and native planting. The 10-mile stretch is planned to run from Brickell Station down to Dadeland South Station. Phase one is occurring in Brickell, where work is due for completion in 2019, set to cost netween $7 million and $9 million. “Brickell has grown explosively in the past 10 to 15 years,” said Meg Daly, president of Friends of the Underline, the group leading the project. “We really believe that this trail-cum-park will offer incredible amenities and green spaces to offset the vertical growth and increased density in the area.”

Expanding on this, Isabel Castilla of JCFO listed amenities such as a dog park, an outdoor gym, a basketball court that doubles up as a space for yoga classes and similar activities, as well as a 150-capacity bicycle garage (Miami-Dade’s first) and a bike repair station. Art will also line the trail, and amenities will be site-specific: In the University of Miami area, a beach volleyball court will be installed.

According to Irene Hegedus of the DTPW, providing safe bicycle routes is a high priority. Castilla added that the shade provided by the Metrorail is “critical” for a project where people are encouraged to “walk, run, and cycle to stations and along the path.” “Working with the existing infrastructure,” she continued, “we hope this leads to the rezoning and re-visioning of areas along the Metrorail as transit-orientated development sites and areas where, as Miami continues to grow, it hopefully grows in a denser way near transit stations rather than continuing urban sprawl that is very dependent on highways and cars.”

Bravo, too, is aware of the interwoven relationship between transit development and the densification of urban areas. Another tool she discussed to further assist Hegedus’s and her ambitions was the possibility of Uber and Lyft entering the fray of her transport plans, acting as the “first and last miles” for journeys.

Now operating in Miami (after three years of lobbying for service legalization), Uber and Lyft previously found success in other parts of Florida, notably in Pinellas Park and Altamonte Springs where rides are subsidized and saving the cities considerable money. Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz described the pilot partnership as “going very well,” but said the scheme is due to end in July.

The low-cost nature of services such as Uber and Lyft is a key to their success. Already able to outprice traditional taxi drivers, ridesharing services Uber Pool and Lyft Line are looking to compete with bus service, too. Uber has gone further than mere carpooling by introducing pickup points optimized by algorithms that essentially create Uber bus stops.

Uber is also losing money—approximately $3 billion per year. In December, economist Justin Wolfers commented that “prices will rise once they’ve succeeded at monopolizing the industry.” If he is correct, the governmental embracing of Uber and Lyft long-term will prove to be shortsighted. Evidence of what happens when alternative public transit routes become unavailable can be seen in London. During a tube strike earlier this year, Uber fares surged by 450 percent; one rider was reportedly charged $138 for a five-mile trip.

It should be noted, though, that Altamonte Springs and Pinellas Park went with car sharing due to other circumstances not going their way. The Altamonte Springs city government set aside $500,000 (of which only a fraction has been needed) for private-hire subsidies after it was denied funding for a $1.5 million pilot “FlexBus” program. At Pinellas Park, the program emerged in response to a 2014 referendum in which local voters declined to adopt a one-cent sales tax to aid transit in the area.

In Miami, however, residents appear to be more enthusiastic about public transport. The “People’s Transportation Plan,” a half-penny charter county sales surtax is helping to fund the S.M.A.R.T. project, something the public voted in favor of back in 2002.

All this, too, shouldn’t suggest that Miami is waging all-out war against the automobile. Getting around by car is being made easier by what Bravo calls “smart signals”—traffic signals that adapt to current states of congestion. Using cameras, they monitor intersections and use AI to optimize traffic flow. Miami-Dade County is investing $40 million this year for the implementation of the traffic signals along major corridors, part of a five-year, $160 million effort. Other smart-city services include 300 soon-to-be-installed wi-fi transit hotspots from CIVIQ Smartscapes.

With all the proposed infrastructural plans, varying in scale, Bravo is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task. “This is a huge cultural change,” she said. However, Bravo is optimistic about how future generations will take to the changes. “New millennials are cool about public transportation,” she added. Such unprecedented growth seldom comes around often, and the chance to invest off the back of hefty tax receipts may be fleeting. Miami’s public transit system is dire, but if it continues to ride the wave of public support and enact its plans, change in the form of mobility lies ahead.

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An interstate conspiracy against Florida real estate?

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

A developer in Miami said that there is an interstate conspiracy against South Florida architecture. “We would sell way more real estate here if the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) would stop telling everyone that Florida was sinking!” Sources have not confirmed whether either claim is true: the conspiracy or the sinking.