Posts tagged with "Florida":

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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.

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Weiss/Manfredi tapped to master plan Naples, Florida’s cultural campus

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.

Naples, Florida-based arts organization Artis—Naples hired New York-based Weiss/Manfredi to create a master plan for its 99,000-square-foot Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus. The plan will help the campus—home to the Naples Philharmonic, The Baker Museum (formerly the Naples Museum of Art), and a handful of other arts facilities—become more cohesive and dynamic, as well as embrace its natural surroundings.

“What we’re really focusing on are the spaces between the buildings,” said Weiss/Manfredi’s Michael Manfredi, who points out that much of the campus, even though it is located less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico, is covered in surface parking and self-contained structures. “The light, the water… to take that atmosphere and pull it into Artis—Naples is an extraordinary opportunity,” added fellow principal Marion Weiss. “They have an opportunity to have both a cultural and public dimension.”

The master plan, set to guide development on the campus for the next two to three decades, is scheduled to be ready by summer, with work getting underway next year. The designers are set to meet with Artis—Naples officials and the local community in the coming weeks.

“We’re still at the early part of this exploration. But we know that when disciplines intersect something special happens,” said Artis—Naples CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen, hinting at closer connections among the institution’s varied cultural offerings. She added: “We want them to look at the entire property and consider everything. You don’t often get an opportunity like this in an organization’s life cycle.”

Currently that property, which hosts about 300,000 visitors per year, consists of five buildings, including two performance halls (Frances Pew Hayes Hall and Myra J. Daniels Pavilion), The Baker Museum, the Toni Stabile Education Building, and the Kohan Administration Building.

Best known for its Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, Weiss/Manfredi has also master planned the Nelson-Atkins Museum Cultural Arts District, and designed the Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design. On this project, the firm beat out Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Hargreaves Associates, NADAAA with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and PWP Landscape Architecture with Allied Works Architecture.

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Massive $3 billion development will accelerate Tampa, Florida’s growth

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.

Tampa, Florida, is one of the fastest growing cities in America. But one development in particular is set to catapult it forward more quickly than any other.

Developer Strategic Property Partners (SPP) is planning a roughly 50-acre, 9-million-square-foot, $3 billion, mixed-use project on the south side of the city’s downtown that will employ more than 15 architecture teams, designing more than 20 buildings. The first phase is slated to be complete by the end of 2020.

While the full team will be announced next month, confirmed architects include Morris Adjmi, COOKFOX, and Alfonso Architects, and landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand. Master planners include David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects, Jeff Speck of Speck & Associates, and David Dixon of Stantec.

Currently the site, edging the Hillsborough River and other local bodies of water, is a warren of oversized roads, parking lots, empty warehouses, and some lonely-feeling, but important, buildings like the Tampa Convention Center, Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay History Center, and the Florida Aquarium.

In order to create a more vibrant, urban environment, the team, said SPP CEO James Nozar, is paying careful attention to elements like walkability, architectural and programmatic variety, sustainability, landscape, and public space.

“We want it to feel authentic despite the fact that everything is going up at the same time,” said Nozar, who focused on the exceptional variety of architectural talent involved, a re-instituted street grid, and a careful balance of “depth, shadow, [and] context,” and “defining where the special moments happen and where the background fabric is.”

A dizzying amount of uses include over 2 million square feet of corporate office space, 200,000 square feet of creative and tech office space, a 320,000-square-foot facility for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, a 400,000-square-foot medical arts building, 5,000 new residential apartment and condominium units, 750,000 square feet of new retail and cultural arts uses, a new arts pavilion, two new hotels, and the renovation of the existing Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

The project, added Nozar, is pursuing WELL Building Certification, focusing on human health and wellness elements like fitness, light, and comfort. SPP is a joint venture between Cascade Investment LLP (Bill Gates’s investment fund) and local businessman Jeff Vinik, who owns the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.

The city of Tampa has pledged to chip in $100 million for the site’s infrastructure, including new and updated roads, sidewalks, water, sewer, and park spaces, confirmed Bob McDonaugh, Tampa’s economic opportunity administrator. “They have very ambitious plans and we’re very supportive of them,” said McDonaugh. “It’s an interesting opportunity; instead of doing this piecemeal, it seems to make sense to do this all at once.” Pending approvals, building is set to begin next spring.

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Facing rising sea levels and greater insurance risk, Southern Florida braces for relocations, new flood design standards, and more

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.

The moon over South Florida looked like a swollen grapefruit in November, its reflection rippling off pools of ocean water that bubbled up through storm drains, crept over seawalls, and swallowed Miami streets. It was a “supermoon,” about 17,000 miles closer to Earth than usual, according to NASA, arriving just in time to supercharge the seasonal high waters known as king tides. The water made an island out of the lifeguards’ shack on Matheson Hammock Park, swept “No Wake” signs from marina harbors onto city streets, and marooned a live octopus in a parking garage along Biscayne Bay.

On days like these, it’s obvious that much of the region now home to about 7 million people began as a network of swampy canals meandering from the Everglades to the ocean. Sometimes nature conspires to remind the city of this fact, as it did in November 2016.

Lately those reminders have become more frequent. The rate of sea-level rise has tripled over the last decade, according to a recent study from the University of Miami, bringing with it more frequent coastal flooding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that Miami-Dade County will see about 15 inches of sea-level rise by 2045. And because South Florida sits on porous limestone bedrock, saltwater is not just encroaching on coastal communities, but gurgling up from below.

Right now it’s a nuisance, but over the lifetime of a mortgage, flooding in South Florida could threaten tens of billions of dollars of real estate and upend development in the country’s 10th largest metropolitan area. Architects, planners, and developers are just beginning to overhaul the urban landscape, laying the groundwork for a sweeping transformation of building codes, municipal infrastructure, and design norms that could save the city from rising seas.

The crucial question is: Who will change that built environment? Will it be architects and city officials, safeguarding South Florida against the effects of climate change as the world’s living laboratory for so-called climate resiliency? Or is nature coming to reclaim Miami as a swampland?

Higher Ground

South Florida’s development boom is so lucrative it seems inevitable that it will continue. Before the city was founded in 1896, however, it wasn’t clear that the mouth of the Miami River would ever be anything more than a mosquito-infested trading post—until the industrialist Henry Flagler dragged his railroad south from Palm Beach along the highest ground he could find: a coral ridge between 12 and 25 feet above sea level. The tracks reached Biscayne Bay on April 22, 1896. Three months later Miami was incorporated.

Today, Miami is a bustling, sprawling urban landscape that has been remade to suit cars, but some planners say that the same limestone ridge Flagler used could anchor climate-friendly development.

The Urban Land Institute is drafting a plan for the Arch Creek Basin, a mostly low-lying area straddling 2,800 acres and four municipalities, as well as unincorporated Dade County, around one stretch of the railroad. Primarily poor people of color, the residents of Arch Creek face a severe threat from sea-level rise—one that could eventually force them to abandon the area.

At a charette in November, designers Gustavo Sanchez-Hugalde, Max Zabala and University of Miami professor Sonia Chao presented their idea for a flood-resistant transportation hub at Northeast 125th Street. It would be transit-oriented development, dense with mixed-use buildings and affordable housing, but also with a health clinic, back-up generators and other resources that could come in handy during a disaster.

“Think of these as not just transit but resilience stations,” said Chao.

In the long run, South Florida’s scarcity of higher ground could also make its elevated areas more valuable as waters rise. That could exacerbate gentrification in minority neighborhoods with relatively high elevations like Liberty City and Little Havana.

“It’s a matter of time until investors will head for the higher land,” said James Murley, chief resilience officer for Miami-Dade County. But climate change isn’t forcing people out of their homes just yet. Asked if climate change is a driving force for gentrification in Miami, Murley is skeptical, but others are starting to look toward the future.

“Right now we’re experiencing more of the classic gentrification that comes with a growing real estate economy,” Murley said.

While the mainland mulls long-term plans to adapt to rising seas, the coastal barrier island of Miami Beach is busy building.

Planning for High Water

Over the next five years, the municipality of Miami Beach will spend $400 to $500 million on flood defenses, installing 80 new pumps, raising roads, and strengthening seawalls across the city. So far the city has funded about $200 million of that project by more than doubling stormwater fees.

A law passed last year requires the owners of buildings larger than 7,000 square feet to pay a fee if they don’t get certified as at least LEED Gold. The builders of properties that don’t get LEED certified at all get slapped with a fee equal to 5 percent of their construction costs. That could help raise money for future infrastructure investments.

Miami Beach also requires new buildings to be at least one foot above the base flood elevation of six feet above sea level. As an additional incentive for developers, the city won’t count the raised elevation of a flood-proofed site toward the project’s height limit or floor-to-area ratio.

Miami Beach environment and sustainability director Elizabeth Wheaton said the new requirements wouldn’t stunt development.

“Developers want to build here,” Wheaton said. “They’re going to do what’s required.”

The first building completed under the new elevation requirements is Jean Nouvel’s Monad Terrace, a 59-unit luxury residential tower on the waterfront in South Beach. Nouvel built Monad Terrace’s ground floor more than 11 feet above sea level, elevating all of the building’s interior spaces and its entrance high enough to ward off flooding.

Building high is an increasingly popular choice for private residences, too. The local architect Rene Gonzalez, known for his high-end modernist houses, is building four new homes in the area that are modeled on mangroves—propped up with stilts and columns for an additional layer of privacy that also affords the owner some long-term insurance against flooding. Gonzalez designed his own home on Belle Isle the same way.

“It’s a responsibility that every architect should take on,” said Gonzalez. “Building a house up is not a luxury. It’s a necessity in our current environmental climate.”

For now, however, most of that work is clustered in tony Miami Beach. In Miami-Dade County at large, where nearly half of all residents live in poverty, there are fewer options.

Because saltwater rises up through South Florida’s porous limestone bedrock, it’s not just coastal communities that are at risk. Many of the most threatened areas lie miles inland, in suburban and often low-income areas of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties that can’t afford to elevate all their homes and streets.

“It’s unavoidable that there will be relocations,” said Anthony Abbate, an architect based in Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, just to the north of Miami-Dade. “It’s a difficult conversation but I think we’re on the verge of having it. This has to be a conversation with the people, with the public.”

Miami-Dade is in the middle of a vulnerability analysis for major infrastructure, from its airport to its water system, identifying “adaptation action areas” where city planners might best focus their efforts.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and it needs to be done in short order,” said Abbate.

Some of that work is already underway. The newest addition to the county’s hospital system will pioneer a flood-friendly approach in the recently incorporated town of Doral, just west of Miami International Airport. Designed by Perkins + Will, Jackson West hospital will devote most of its 27 acres to green space and a retention pond to store runoff not just from the built-up part of the site that will house the hospital, but from the developments surrounding the site. Construction is set to begin later this year and the hospital could open in 2020.

Risk and Reward

Perhaps before it faces up to the force of nature, however, South Florida may have to reckon with its runaway real estate market. Wayne Pathman, a land-use attorney and chair of Miami’s Sea Level Rise Committee, said the face of Miami’s climate crisis might not be a natural disaster, but a collapse of the insurance market.

“Flood insurance is going to be the tip of the spear,” Pathman said. “Unlike hurricanes, which are a single event that may not happen for years at a time, sea-level rise is a constant. Once it’s here, it’s here, and it’s never going to get better.”

Pathman said some of his clients with property in Miami Beach and North Beach are already seeing a 500 percent increase in their flood insurance premiums. For now, that’s manageable, he said, because they were probably underpriced in the first place.

“When that jumps as high as $50,000 over the next 10 years, which it will, that’s alarming,” he said.

Areas that today flood two or three times each year could see water in the streets every week, and banks may stop offering mortgages there. That could have ripple effects across the region, Pathman said, jeopardizing tourism dollars and property-tax revenue that Miami-Dade and Broward counties will need to fund new climate-resilient infrastructure.

“Those are our only two industries here in South Florida,” Pathman said. “If we don’t start dealing with the insurance risk, all the ideas we come up with for future infrastructure will be cost-prohibitive because we won’t have any money.”

Reinaldo Borges, an architect who sits on the sea-level rise committee with Pathman, said the luxury houses and museums already built to deal with higher seas show climate-resilient design can provide a return on investment.

“If you design correctly,” he said, “you shouldn’t be worried about insurance risk.”

Borges has a checklist for clients who are looking to invest in the future of Miami real estate—not just flip property for a profit. It includes elevating building mechanical systems, installing hurricane-proof windows, and planning for severe floods.

“For a building like that, all you have to do before a storm is bring your pool chairs inside,” he said.

Climate-proofing one building may be a straightforward design problem. Saving a metro region of 7 million is something else.

Borges came to Miami when he was six years old, brought from Cuba by parents who sought a better life for their children. Today he has two daughters, ages 23 and 29, and he has the same hope for them.

“When you’ve got political leadership in denial, these are challenges I’m concerned about,” said Borges. “This is a world-class city, but people are starting to ask if this is the place they really want to invest.” 

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Deep in the Florida Everglades, this former state prison hosts private military training operations

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.

Deep in the Florida Everglades, surrounded by wildlife and natural preserves, an abandoned correctional facility has become the unlikely background for high-stakes military training operations, far from the public eye. The Hendry Correctional Institute, a former high-security state prison complex turned private training facility, is the unlikely protagonist in a new generation of military-style training scenarios.

Since 2012, the site has been run by Altair Training Solutions, a private enterprise that rents out the facility and provides training to clients across a spectrum of military, private, and security interests. Site organizers capitalize on the facility’s protective architecture, and its layers of security infrastructure left over from its prison days, to inject realism in simulated missions for special operations forces, law enforcement agencies, and weekend hobbyists.

The site signals a shift in what we might think of as “adaptive reuse” in a niche market of the newly securitized economy. Instead of repurposing an abandoned warehouse or a dilapidated factory into lofts or retail space, the scheme here was to reinvigorate a vast area on the urban scale—including 1,150 surrounding acres, a nearby county correctional facility, two hotels, houses, dining halls, a research and development facility, long and short shooting ranges, shoot houses, and a 3,800-foot-long private airstrip. Instead of targeting traditional market forces, the land-grab speculation hinges on the presumed insatiable and continued interest of militarized forces in the kind of free-rein, live-fire, no-holds-barred urban expeditions that only an underused, remote, and built-up site allows.

Such sites have long been objects of desire for the U.S. armed forces, which see them as ready-made approximations of emerging theaters of operations—stand-ins for the streets, markets, and central business districts of hostile cities a world away. The RAND Corporation identified abandoned towns as future training gold mines in the mid-2000s. The U.S. military has, in recent years, used existing—and sometimes inhabited—domestic cities to add realism to their training regimens. But this site was identified and purchased by private citizens (albeit former-military), and was initially supported by public tax incentives (a package the State of Florida called Project Assassin, which was later rescinded). The newly reimagined facility opens its doors to the untrained hobbyist and gun enthusiast. Public programming requires no military training or law-enforcement credentials—passing a criminal background check and paying the entry fee gains entry to select courses. In one recent example, students from every walk of life spent a Saturday learning to shoot targets near the former prison law library from hovering helicopters. This is a mom-and-pop shop for street-front shoot-’em-ups. This is amateur hour. And it may only be the beginning, a model for the private security urbanism to come.

To better understand the draw of the site, one must understand remoteness as a fundamental asset of the new private security urbanism. The state has historically invested in remote areas for detention purposes, using distance from populated centers as a buffer. Built in 1977 to be intentionally surrounded by uninhabited wilderness, the facility had been deteriorating for decades. The required public funding for renovations and remote access had become a burden to the State of Florida. The once-desired remoteness proved to only expedite the prison’s eventual demise, but later offered an opportunity for other uses—allowing for the type of training other non-remote sites cannot.

The details of the training contracts are confidential, but one can imagine the series of exfiltration and other tactical operations that this type of location affords. As other military installations are spending money to faithfully recreate every physical nuance of projected intervention sites from scratch, Altair comes ready-made with a bona fide architecture of imprisonment. The former prison and its buildings, no longer capable of sustaining prior instantiations of security, are now seen as “up for grabs”—a kind of marketable good, repurposed to the whims of the new securocratic order.

It takes a mind with a particular type of calculus to understand the high value of civic remnants in the oncoming era. While the standard of real estate development speculation looks for new density and economic growth opportunities, these alternative post-urban investment schemes search for forgotten ghost spaces, where remoteness and absence of human inhabitation are the prized components. Given the rampant privatization of the prison-industrial complex, abandoned state prisons could soon be a boon to the speculative rehabber of disused security infrastructure. The architecture of incarceration is offered as a stage set, perpetuating its imagined use.

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AN focuses on Florida for the AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando

The Architect's Newspaper's April 2017 issue takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). You can see all those articles on this page. Here, Senior Editor Matt Shaw's editorial from that issue highlights what we've explored in the Sunshine State.

Since The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) switched from four weekly regional editions to one single national monthly, we have worked tirelessly to maintain our in-depth regional coverage of architecture, even if it is packaged differently. But sometimes we miss the intense focus on one region for one issue. That is why for our AIA special issue, which coincides with the AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando, Florida, we decided to make a Florida regional issue, in the spirit of our old East, Midwest, West, and Southwest editions. We could call it Southeast, but there is so much building and development going on in Florida that we wanted to give it the classic AN treatment by itself.

What exactly is happening there?

Most of the high-profile development is in Miami, where The Four Seasons stands as the tallest building in the city at 789 feet, but will soon be surpassed by the 830-foot-tall Panorama Tower, and soon after that both will likely be passed by a wave of supertalls that are in the planning process. There are nearly a dozen proposals in various states of planning, including World Trade Center of the Americas, The Towers by Foster + Partners, KPF’s One Bayfront Plaza, and Skyrise Miami, a.k.a. “The Eiffel Tower of the Magic City.” The FAA has never approved a building over 1,049 feet, so that is the designated height of many, including the latter three listed above.

This boom shows that while the condo market in South Florida may actually be cooling off, the cities are not. In our feature, we profile Miami from several angles, showing a complex metropolis layered with architecture and design activity. The latest wave of development has brought with it a new civic-mindedness to a city that is struggling to escape its car-centric culture and is slowly growing to offer more urbane experiences through infrastructure, density, and advances in technology. The re-urbanization of Miami parallels many other places, but it has its own characteristic development patterns.

The paradox of building directly in the face of sea-level rise may seem daunting, especially as the governor of Florida continues to deny climate change and forbids government employees from using the term. Luckily, there is hope: A sub-state organization of counties and municipalities are taking the lead without state help. Since 2009, the counties of Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach have led the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Other partners include the Institute for Sustainable Communities, South Florida Water Management District, The Nature Conservancy – Florida Chapter, and the Florida Climate Institute. Along with a collection of cities and towns, they have been working together—and meeting annually—to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines, as well as address funding and policy issues.

In Miami, there is also work being done to combat the social issues of sea-level rise threatening the city, as there is real concern that up to 50 percent of the land will not be habitable in the coming decades. What will happen if this is true? Not only would real estate become unusable, but higher ground that is now affordable could become unaffordable for those who live there, if that territory becomes more desirable to those displaced along the shore. To offset that, many are looking to Philadelphia’s anti-gentrification “Development Without Displacement” methods such as the tax exemptions in the Longtime Owner-Occupant Program (LOOP), and other alternative ownership incentives and models, and applying them to a GIS-based plan for the city.

These contradictory forces—the ocean and the city—may pose a threat to Miami if no action is taken, but they are also what makes it so desirable. The landscape and the resultant tourism industry—hotels, malls, resorts, beaches, nightlife—fuels a tropical paradise with urban, suburban, and rural issues as compelling and complex as anywhere.

Because we cover Florida regularly, we have some past coverage that might interest those who enjoy this issue. Click here for a list of past articles.

Special thanks to landscape architect Walter Meyer of Local Office Landscape Architecture whose help was indispensable for this issue.

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A Jimmy Buffett–themed community for seniors is coming to Daytona Beach

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. Thanks to a new Florida development, it will soon be possible to live in Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

The almost $1 billion Buffett-themed Daytona Beach complex is marketed towards the 55-plus crowd who crave those tropical vibes. At Latitude Margaritaville, parrotheads residents can enjoy beach access, a resort-style pool, Margaritaville-branded cuisine at on-site restaurants, a fitness center, and a walkable town square complete with transit links to the community's various destinations. A band shell for live entertainment will round out the programming.

Though the singer's Margaritaville brand includes hospitality ventures in the U.S. and Caribbean, a retirement community is perhaps the perfect entrepreneurial synthesis of Buffett’s drunken yacht rock and easy life ethos. Canada- and Florida-based developer Minto Communities is spearheading the project, which is located near the intersection of Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard. A sales center for the development's 6,900 homes is expected to open this fall.

The Orlando Business Journal reported the project, previously christened Tomoka, will boost Daytona Beach’s residential population significantly.

“For over 60 years Minto has focused on providing incredible lifestyle in the communities we create,” Minto Communities senior vice president Bill Bullock said, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Margaritaville to put the exclamation point on fun living for active adults.”

“We are excited to partner with Minto and believe this relationship will redefine lifestyle destination living in Daytona Beach,” added Margaritaville CEO John Cohlan. “With Minto’s expertise in creating master-planned developments and Margaritaville’s inherent ability to deliver fun and escapism, Latitude Margaritaville has the exact coordinates for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up.”

Well, cheers to that.

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From affordable housing to parks, inside the versatile Fort Lauderdale-based Glavovic Studio

When Miami clients want a high-profile designer, they often bring in architects from New York and London simply because marketing demands signature international brand names. The developing streetscape of Wynwood, Miami’s Art District, has buildings by scores of important architects from every city but Miami.

But the city has its own, often-underappreciated talent. For example, there is Fort Lauderdale-based Glavovic Studio and its founding principal Margi Glavovic Northard, who has the resume of an architect one would usually find practicing in New York or Los Angeles: She was educated at SCI-Arc, taught at UCLA, and worked for Smith-Miller+Hawkinson in New York before opening her own practice. In Los Angeles, Northard met Robert Mangurian who told her to “go to a place where you can make a difference.”

Taking this advice, she started her Florida firm in 1999. The local projects she cobbled together make her someone who should be better known outside Florida. Northard, who is from South Africa, brings a global perspective and ambition into her practice that attempts to link local ideas, traditions, and needs with a broader international perspective. She said she admires the way Canadian Frank Gehry arrived in California and worked with the local vernacular to create truly revolutionary designs. 

But, unlike Herzog & de Meuron, for example, who practice in the small city of Basel and won the prestigious Miami Art Museum (now Pérez), she does not just pitch glamorous cultural projects. “We are part of the local community that wants to be part of a larger conversation, and we are able to connect them to a global conversation,” she said. Indeed the firm focuses on local public housing, community centers, parks, and libraries because Nothard believes architects are, as she put it, “cultural change agents and facilitators.” She made the conscious decision to design affordable housing because she believes affordability is a broader notion than just low income.

At one affordable housing project, Kennedy Homes, Nothard claimed to have expanded the discussion “from affordable to affordability.”  The design work, she asserted, is about “creating change” with a commitment to design buildings that are “direct experiences.” She said that she was asked to design a gazebo and “ended up doing an artist center for the community” that has enriched the town and region. It would be a sign of Miami’s maturity as a design center, something boosters point to, for her to be given a project in Wynwood, Brickell, or on Collins Avenue.

Young Circle Arts Park Hollywood, Florida

This 10-acre cultural center is located in downtown Hollywood, Florida. Its park immerses visitors in native landscapes and offers visual and performing arts programming and community activities. Two buildings include the Visual Arts Pavilion, which provides classrooms, a glass blowing studio, metal studio, painting studio, exhibition program, and support facilities, as well as the Performing Arts Pavilion, which contains a stage and lawn seating.

Kennedy Homes Affordable Housing Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Kennedy Homes is a 132-unit LEED Gold affordable housing project poised at the gateway to the City of Fort Lauderdale. Its living spaces are spread into eight residential buildings, with three community buildings housed in renovated structures, providing a gymnasium, library, and meeting and leisure rooms. The 8.5-acre site is developed as an expanded green space within an urban landscape.

Girls' Club Collection Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Located on a quiet street on the northern edge of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Girls’ Club is an artist studio, a gallery, a foundation, and a quasi-public space. The 1984 masonry building has a reconfigured facade layered with light, color, landscape, and enigmatic materials that employ local craft techniques and industrial references.

Sunset Hammock Tamarac, florida

Sunset Hammock, a public art project in Tamarac’s Sunset Point Park, renders moments in time through increasing intensity and color. It explores the expansiveness of the Everglades through the study of wetland topographies and tectonic forms.

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State-wide Florida vote rejects anti-solar energy law

In Florida, solar power advocates defeated a major amendment cleverly crafted to thwart the expansion of solar energy within the Sunshine State. Amendment 1, known as Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use, was rejected last week after it failed to accumulate the 60 percent of voter support required to pass. There was a particularly heated battle around this bill, given the use of rhetorical spin encouraged by Sal Nuzzo of the James Madison Institute—a think tank with close ties to Florida utilities and funding from Koch Industries, who also financed the amendment’s sponsor group, Consumers for Smart Solar. According to Christian Science Monitor, Nuzzo was caught on tape encouraging what he called “‘a little bit of political jiu-jistu’” that would “use the language of promoting solar” while building in “protections for consumers that choose not to install rooftop [panels].” With current net metering policies that exist in every state, including Florida, utilities companies are required to purchase excess energy from solar-powered homes, offsetting the cost of power taken from the grid at night. The amendment “establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property” a right Floridians already have, but only in order “to generate electricity for their own use.” If passed, residents would not be able to sell their cheaper, excess electricity back to the grid. Utilities companies argue solar homes—in selling their excess energy to the grid—make use of transmission lines and grid infrastructure without paying a fair share, according to Mother Jones. This amendment would've also ensured that the cost of maintaining the grid wouldn't be shifted onto non-solar users. The amendment also didn’t seek to legalize leasing solar panels through third party groups (such as SolarCity and Sunrun) which have installed approximately 72 percent of residential solar in the nation since 2014, according to Greentech Media. Florida residents must continue to go through one of the four existing utilities companies, which maintain exclusive rights to selling power in Florida, to arrange for solar power. When the Nuzzo recordings leaked toward the end of October, it gave the opposition the boost it needed to defeat the amendment. It became clear that the amendment was “an attempt to destroy all free market energy in the state along with solar energy in general,” Tory Perfetti, chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice told The Huffington Post. Moreover, according to the legal brief filed by Earthjustice, if passed, “solar users could end up paying twice as much as other customers pay to buy power from the utilities.”  Former Florida senator and governor Bob Graham blasted Amendment 1, Jimmy Buffett recorded a video about it, and Elon Musk tweeted about it, calling it a “calculated attempt to deceive Florida voters about solar.” While solar expansion in the Sunshine State still has a long way to go, the amendment’s rejection was a bullet dodged.
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$1 billion agriculture-focused community approved outside Orlando

After Orlando County commissioners approved a new $1 billion development plan—dubbed “The Grow”—in a 4-2 vote last week, the project will move into its design and permitting phase, with construction scheduled to start next summer. The Grow follows a new development style trend, commonly known as an ‘agrihood,’ that champions farm-to-table living in a cooperative community. The Grow will be situated on 1,189 acres behind the University of Central Florida campus. It will feature 2,078 homes, a community garden, a 20-acre community park, an elementary school, 12 miles of bike trails, and 172,000 square feet of commercial development, including retail spaces and a restaurant that incorporates food grown in the community garden, according to Builder Magazine. Spearheaded by Project Finance & Development LLC (PFD), the project has been praised for its approach to sustainability and thoughtfulness in addressing the growth of east Orlando. However, critics of the project argue that it’s simply the next iteration of ‘urban sprawl’ slowly encroaching on the Econlockhatchee River and Lake Pickett, which have remained rural in the context of hyper-development, according to Orlando Business Journal. The development will require new roadwork, but PFD has agreed to foot the bill for a roundabout on South Tanner Road to ease the flow of traffic. According to the Urban Land Institute, there are about 200 agrihoods nationwide and in states such as California, Idaho, Virginia, Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, and Vermont. Though the agrihood trend has been 20 years in the making, it’s beginning to gain traction with the growing interest in how food is being grown and produced. Senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute told the Associated Press that these spaces have “fundamentally changed the relationship” between residents and the land. “It’s a lot more than growing vegetables; it’s really about growing community.”
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St. Petersburg City Council approves $19.5 million for long-awaited “Pier Approach”

The City Council of St. Petersburg, Florida has approved $19.5 million in funding for W Architecture & Landscape Architecture's Pier Approach, the lead-up to the new Rogers Partners–designed St. Pete Pier. In addition to approving the design, the city council expanded W Architecture's scope of service to include detailed design and construction documents. The Brooklyn-based architecture firm is collaborating with ASD Architects and Rogers Partners on the redesign. Rogers Partners designed the pier itself, which will be connected to W Architecture's approach. W Architecture and local partner Wannemacher Jensen Architects are working on the Pier Approach. Tampa-based firm ASD is the executive architect on the pier. The aim of the approach is to connect the pier, located at Spa Beach, to downtown St. Petersburg. Plans for a new pier have been in the works since at least 2012, but that year a group of residents organized a referendum that rejected a design from L.A.-based architect Michael Maltzan. Rogers Partners won a new city-issued design competition in 2015. When The Architect's Newspaper profiled the project in May, W's concept phase was just wrapping up. Rogers Partners design offers a 13-acre public space that, together with the approach, integrates the water with the waterfront. Some of the amenities that will be available to the public include restaurants, a kid's play zone, a fishing deck, and bait shop. Ken Smith Landscape Architect is also part of the pier design team. Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination, told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that a lack of activities was a key reason the previous design was scrapped. However the new design may have raised concerns about too much activity, as the pier's three restaurants were reportedly a point of discussion. The city's timeline has the pier and approach both completed by the end of 2018. The pier and approach will be treated as separate projects throughout the design, permitting, and construction processes, with progress on the approach following slightly behind the pier itself. The pier is currently in the schematic design phase, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Public outreach showcasing the final pier and approach designs together will follow.
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Tampa’s $35 million Riverfront Park redevelopment is underway

Tampa, Florida Mayor Bob Buckhorn took the helm of a track hoe last week to break ground on the redevelopment of Riverfront Park. The ceremony marked the beginning of a major construction project in a neighborhood that, according to the mayor in a speech at the event, has been "underserved for decades." Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park was originally constructed in 1977 on the banks of the Hillsborough River. Since then the park has fallen into disrepair and disuse, and was overdue for a renovation. It's set for a major one in the coming year, with a total investment of $35 million into revitalizing the community space. This project has been in the works since 2014, when designers Civitas and W Architecture and Landscape Architecture began a community outreach process to determine the public's needs. According to Civitas Project Manager Robin Rooney Norcross in a press release,“The public meetings were very well attended and influential through all design decisions... It became clear early on that the residents wanted their park back" Among the considerations the project managers took were safety, accessibility, and access to the river. They are also revamping the most used features of the old park, including the basketball and tennis courts and the splash pad. The river itself is a key focus of the design, which will slope forward for ideal views of the waterfront. It will also include picnic areas, and a great lawn for activities. River access will be available through Tampa's first city-run boathouse, with kayaks, paddle boards, and dragon boats among the watercraft available for rental. The boathouse, a centerpiece of the design, will double as a community center with classrooms and a catering kitchen on its top floor. The new Riverfront Park will also provide pedestrian and bike access to both the greenway trail in development on the west bank of the river, and the existing Riverwalk on the east. The city expects the renovation to be completed by summer 2017. In addition to Civitas and W, the team includes City Architect James Jackson Jr., City Project Architect Kevin Henika, Parks and Recreation Director Greg Bayor, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Brad Suder and Parks and Recreation Landscape Architect Project Manager Karla Price Stantec, Moffatt & Nichol, Volt Air Consulting Engineers, Silman Structural Engineers, Arehna Engineering and Evans Engineering with Weller Pools.