Posts tagged with "Arquitectonica":

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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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1,000-foot-tall observation tower proposed for Miami’s Downtown waterfront

Leave it to Miami to build a 1,000-foot-tall tower and top it with an exclusive club. The Skyrise Miami observation tower, designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, is proposed to sit at Bayside Marketplace in Downtown Miami. Along with its Skytop club and Premium Observation Deck, some 900 feet above the waterfront, the tower will also include at least three other indoor and outdoor observation decks, and three theme park-like rides: the SkyRise Flying Theater ride, the bungee jump-like Sky Plunge, and the free-falling Skydrop. The base of the tower will include entertainment, retail, and restaurant space. The tower is projected to be LEED Gold Certified and is being touted for its ability to withstand wind speeds of up to 186 miles per hour. Currently, the tallest building in Miami is just under 800 feet tall. If built, the Skyrise Miami may take that title, though there are a hand full of skyscrapers proposed and under construction that will be vying for that top spot.
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Arquitectonica’s One Mission Bay tops out in San Francisco

Developers CIM Group and Miami-based architects Arquitectonica recently topped-out construction on a 16-story condominium tower complex in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. The 350-unit One Mission Bay development is located across from the city’s booming South of Market district and is currently billed as the tallest residential structure under construction in the neighborhood. The waterfront development is made up of a 13-story tower containing 198 units and a shorter, six-story partial perimeter block building containing 152-units located on a two-acre site. The condominiums range in configuration from studios to three bedroom units. Waterfront units in the 13-story portion of the development are clad in floor-to-ceiling glass walls while other exposures and the majority of the six-story masses feature large, square-shaped punched openings interspersed by sections of masonry cladding. The project also features roughly 16,000 square feet of ground-level commercial spaces, three parking levels, and a constellation of rooftop amenities like a heated pool. The project’s triangular site yields interesting configurations at two of the corners. At one such point, where the 13-story tower is located, the building masses come together and branch out for a short distance along opposing edges of the site. Units along the sharply-angled crook along the interior of the tower created by this situation, according to renderings produced by rendering firm Bluesteel, also feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls with units looking directly—and perhaps uncomfortably—into one another. A second corner features rectangular massing that extends out perpendicularly from the corner, with two wings of the building, aligned with the edges of the site, branching off this central mass.
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Arquitectonica to design new $1 billion “Innovation District” in Miami

Developer Tony Cho and investor Bob Zangrillo, the CEOs of Dragon Global and Metro 1 respectively, aim to transform the neighborhood of Little Haiti in Miami. Working with Miami studio Arquitectonica, the pair proposes that areas between Northeast 60th and 64th streets to the south and north, and Northeast Second Avenue and a railroad line to the west and east, be developed (in phases) as a gargantuan mixed-use project. 170,000 square feet of the site's former industrial spaces will be repurposed to include an innovation center for start-ups and businesses. According to the Miami Herald, Cho and Zangrillo hope to bring entrepreneurs to the $1 billion campus and keep them there, offering housing and spaces to both work and play. “We are investing money, cleaning things up, bringing more street lights and security in the neighborhood; we’re bringing in art, creating jobs,” Cho said. “I see Miami melding as an urban node. These are all becoming very interesting neighborhoods.” Phase one of the "Innovation District" will see the construction of a sculpture garden, a 30,000-square-foot "Magic City Studios," and the innovation center. The latter will span 15,000 square feet and be part of the "Factory," which will also feature an amphitheater for events. Despite the wealth of square footage available, none will be allocated to parking, furthering the walkable and pedestrian friendly campus feel of the development. Instead, small apartments will negate the need for what Cho calls a “behemoth garage space” that would take up valuable land and only drive up the cost of housing. Speaking in the Wall Street Journal, Cho added that ride-hailing apps would plug the transport gap. The Herald, meanwhile, also reports that listed tenants so far include Salty Donut, Aqua Elements, Photopia, Baby Cotton, ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art), Wynwood Shipping, and Etnia Barcelona.
Phase one is so far penned for 2018 and will be privately financed. The Zangrillo and Cho also mentioned that office and retail space, affordable workforce housing, including micro-units, and even a boutique hotel could possibly come in the future.
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Babylon Apartments in Miami, one of Arquitectonica’s first designs, is at risk

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.

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After 13 years and multiple changes, San Francisco planners approve massive project by Arquitectonica

After a drawn out, 13-year process, architecture firm Arquitectonica has rolled back the years on its design for the final installment for Trinity Place on San Francisco's Market Street. The firm has reverted to a design it originally conceived back in 2006 and had approved in 2007. However, the final phase required much back and forth and Arquitectonica and San Francisco's Planning Department have just now found accord and are moving forward. Since Arquitectonica submitted its original plan in 2003 for the site, 13 years have passed along with numerous iterations to the project. Originally, 1,410 housing units had been planned, but this proposal was altered in 2006 due to complaints from locals. After that, the final third phase of the project lay in limbo, being changed and changed again in the process. But while the project stalled, the area has also changed. When Arquitectonica cofounder Bernardo Fort-Brescia submitted yet another set of plans last week (that were very close to the 2006 scheme), the San Francisco Department acknowledged that perhaps Mission/Market Street had caught up and finally gave it the green light. Prior to Arquitectonica's inception, the 4.5-acre plot was occupied by a motel that in the 1970s had been converted into apartments. Now, two, 24-story cubic volumes rise up, interlocking and overlapping with various elements, all of the same simple orthogonal nature. The structure houses 440 units, "360 of which are rent controlled," the firm said, settling one of the earlier disputes. This, however, is just the "first phase" (which has already been built) of Arquitectonica's overall plan, which will offer a whopping 1,900-units. Phase two lies on the same plot. It boasts 105 more units with 21,000-square-feet of retail space, while the third and final phase will use a Tetris-like, golden "L" shape to house 915 new residences. They don't come cheap, either, with prices starting at $2,775 for an unfurnished "junior one bedroom." "We wanted to start with something very graphic and pure compared to the background of San Francisco, and then the composition changes personality from one building to the next," said Fort-Brescia. "By the time it reaches Market Street, we’re trying to create a more subtle streetscape."
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Arquitectonica leads design team for three Toronto towers

Arquitectonica in collaboration with New York firm S9 Architecture and Toronto-based Sweeney & Co. Architects have designed three mid-rise residential towers in Toronto, the tallest of which will be 526 feet high. The project is being spearheaded by WAM Development Group and will occupy a four-acre plot between 245–285 Queen East and Sherbourne and Ontario Streets as well as 348–412 on Richmond. Upon brief observation, the towers look like three lowercase i's aligned in a row. This is due to a recreational floor two-thirds up each of the towers. These spaces will house indoor and outdoor amenities including a living garden patio. The tallest tower, 45 stories tall, sits in the middle flanked by the other two slightly smaller buildings, both 466 feet high (39 storeys). At pedestrian level, the towers will be connected by a retail podium and public space. According to regional commentary forum Urban Toronto the "massive redevelopment will completely change the height, density, and urban character of Queen and Sherbourne." In terms of density, the trio of towers will add 1,645 housing units to the vicinity, being divvied up into 340 single bedroom; 832 single-bedroom with "den"; 235 double bedroom; 69 two-bedroom with "den", and 169 three-bedroom apartments. Of the 1,645 units, 1,110 are currently planned as rentable spaces. As for the public realm, brick paving has been used to contrast the glazed facade of the towers, creating a much more localized place and offering an alternate sense of scale. Within the area, protection from the elements will come in the form of a glass canopy so to maintain the aspect of openness.
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Arquitectonica gets real wavy with new seaside tower in Florida

Arquitectonica tests the surf with ocean-influenced Regalia, a newly unveiled 488-foot-tall luxury condo in Sunny Isles, a city northeast of Miami. But the Florida skyscraper is leaving us with a distinct sense of déjà vu. The tower looks strikingly similar to Studio Gang's Aqua in Chicago. While Gang's undulating concrete balconies extend as far as 12 feet to maximize views in the skyscraper-dense downtown, Arquitectonica's balconies in the same style afford uninterrupted views of the Atlantic on the building's sea-side. Gang's curving terraces were based on striated limestone outcroppings in the Great Lakes region, while Arquitectonica's are modeled on ocean waves. Although Chicago's lake-affected weather presumably hinders Aqua residents from enjoying their outdoor spaces year-round, Regalia's residents will have unfettered access to their sunny terraces all the time, if the barrier island the building is situated on doesn't flood or sink in the meantime. Regalia's 39 floor-through units and two penthouses are spread over 46 stories. "A rectangular glass prism houses the functional requirements," explained Bernardo Fort-Brescia, founding partner of Arquitectonica, in a statement to designboom. "Its transparent surfaces connect inside and outside, linking the occupants with the surrounding environment. Its orthogonal geometry creates elegant, serene, classical, zen-like spaces. Each floor is wrapped by a sensuously undulating terrace. The resulting walk-around veranda protects the glass surfaces from the sun, as in traditional Florida homes. It is this veranda that shapes the architecture." This is not the first curvy tower the Miami–based firm has designed for the Sunshine State. Last year, their 42-story residential tower, also inspired by (far choppier, it seems) ocean waves, opened on Miami's Biscayne Bay.
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Arquitectonica’s newly opened zig-zagging tower in Miami is meant to reflect the rippling waters of Biscayne Bay

Miami-based Arquitectonica has completed a zig-zagging tower on booming Miami's Biscayne Bay. The 42-story, luxury residence building was developed by the Related Group and has been dubbed the Icon Bay. Icon Bay's distinctive textured facade is created through a playful repetition of the structure's balconies and is said to have been a response to the untamed ripples of the Biscayne's waters as they flutter against the breeze. These elevated terraces provide for sweeping waterfront views. The tower includes its own bayside park, also designed by Arquitectonica. The park's circular walkways move through an outdoor art exhibition space. Icon Bay is but one of the many new construction projects that have recently found its way to Miami's shores.
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Florida’s AIA chapter opens up the architecture polls with its 2015 People’s Choice Awards

Floridians and visitors can show their appreciation for their favorite local community buildings with AIA Florida's 2nd Annual People's Choice Award sponsored by the Florida Foundation for Architecture. From June 29th until July 31st, voters can choose between the 48 state-located buildings and so far 30,000 individuals have weighed in. Killearn Lakes Elementary School in Tallahassee, for example, currently holds the number one spot. This Hoy+Stark designed structure captivates with its crisp, clean-cut modernist appeal that redefines your typical elementary school. In 8th place, South Miami's Dade Cultural Arts Center features multiple facilities that cater to dance rehearsals and community meetings. This Arquitectonica-designed center accommodates outdoor endeavors, too, with its sloped promenade. The design firm can also boast a waterfront view alongside their second People's Choice Award nominated building, UM's Student Activities Center. The People's Choice Award highlights the importance of architecture and commemorates the influence that architects leave in the community. "We are proud to recognize the work of architects, who are truly the designers of Florida's communities," said Bill Hercules, AIA, President of the Board of Trustees of the Florida Foundation for Architecture. Results will be announced on August 1st at AIA Florida's Annual Convention in Boca Raton. To view all the projects and cast your vote, click here.
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Miami Beach approves revised convention center plan by Fentress, Arquitectonica, West 8

The Miami Beach Design Review Board has unanimously approved the scaled-back renovation of the city’s convention center. The $500 million project is being led by Fentress Architects with Arquitectonica covering the structure’s facade, and West 8 overseeing landscape design. As AN wrote last month, despite the center's rippling aluminum exterior, the overall plan doesn't quite pack the punch of the more dramatic (and more expensive) one drawn up by Rem Koolhaas. That plan came out of the epic head-to-head matchup between Koolhaas and his former student, Bjarke Ingels. Koolhaas ultimately won, but the design was scrapped, so here we are. With the new plan set to move forward, we are getting a better sense of the development, especially of West 8's contribution: 12 acres of open space. In a statement, the firm explained that "the Convention Center’s existing 5.8 acre truck staging and parking lot is transformed into a new world-class public park with a plant palette that showcases the unique flora and botany of Miami Beach, and provides flexible lawn areas.” The plan also includes the Park Pavilion which has indoor/outdoor dining areas set underneath tall “concrete umbrellas.” The pavilion connects to a 3.5-acre park and a veteran's memorial that's also incorporated onto the site. Other components of the open space include a butterfly garden, ballroom terrace, and “bike-friendly pathway. The convention center is expected to break ground in December 2015 and open two years later. The park is slated to be ready in 2018. [h/t Curbed Miami]