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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Known for their playful, cutting-edge facades, Rojkind Arquitectos are adept at transforming obstacles into opportunity. Founded in 2002, the Mexico City–based practice is regularly challenged with delivering a sense of cohesion to unplanned urban chaos. As the literal and metaphorical mediator between a building's interior and its context, the envelope is a crucial starting point for any such endeavor. "Our first approach is through digital design and local fabrication, depending on the geography of the project, time, budget, etc.," explained founding partner Michel Rojkind, fresh from the July 7 groundbreaking of the firm's Foro Boca concert hall in Veracruz, Mexico. "We research local craftsmanship to enhance the final results." Besides considering the more pragmatic elements of design and execution, said Rojkind, "We also try to question what a facade is, in terms of performance or how it can produce other areas that blur the line between building and [exterior]." For him, the most intriguing question facing contemporary designers and fabricators is: "How can facades bring added value to the project—not only in economic terms, but also as social innovation?" Rojkind will deliver the opening keynote September 10 at Facades+ Miami, the South Florida debut of the popular conference series on high performance building enclosures. Speaking of architectural conditions in the conference's host city, Rojkind—himself an old hand at designing for a hot, sunny climate—said, "I think there are great opportunities to really push for interior/exterior living connections and blur those boundaries. [We can] learn from the past while embracing future social interactions as a design [guide]." Hear more from Rojkind and other movers and shakers in the AEC industry, and participate in exclusive local field trips, at Facades+ Miami this fall. For more information or to register, visit the conference website.
Miami is on the rise—literally. The local AEC industry is booming, with dozens upon dozens of projects, including 79 towers, currently under construction and 92 projects in pre-construction. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [pdf], 105,600 Miami-area workers were employed in the construction trades as of April 2015, a 6.7 percent increase from the previous year. Downtown Miami, in particular, is a hotbed of activity, thanks in part to Miami Downtown Development Authority's 2025 Downtown Miami Master Plan. The plan, which aims to transform the urban core from a business district into a thriving live-work neighborhood, calls for residential growth, tourist-friendly local transit, and ground-floor and outdoor dining and retail. Prominent mixed-use projects underway or set to break ground imminently include Brickell City Centre and the 10-block Miami Worldcenter. Want to learn more about Miami's present and future built environment? Hear expert analyses and gain access to exclusive site visits September 10–11 at Facades+ Miami, the premier conference on high performance building envelopes.
Florida International University to be the first arts and design college to launch a Makerbot Innovation Lab
With 3D printing becoming a major impetus in cultivating startup culture, Florida International University (FIU) is launching a MakerBot Innovation Lab, a 3,000-square-foot makerspace for students and community members to develop product ideas and conduct research. Set to be equipped with 30 state-of-the-art 3D printers and four 3D scanners, the space can serve up to 60 students at a time, with one 3D printer between every two work stations. The school bagged a $185,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to build the facility. “Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has seen enormous growth over the last few years—adding co-working spaces, mentor and funder networks, educational offerings and a host of events,” Matt Haggman, program director of the Knight Foundation, said in a statement. “But there are few established makerspaces where entrepreneurs can experiment and build. The MakerBot Innovation Lab will help to fill this gap, providing the next generation of Miami talent with a space to realize their ideas and inviting the community to connect toward building a stronger startup culture in our city.” FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts will be the only arts/design college in the nation to house a MakerBot Innovation Lab, according to John Stuart, associate dean for cultural and community engagement and executive director of Miami Beach Urban Studios. The lab’s launch creates abundant educational opportunities as well as a space for public programs. The makerspace will support workshops for elementary and middle school students, dual enrollment programs for high school students, for-credit classes for FIU students and startup programs for recent graduates. FIU’s Urban Studios, a creative space for the performing and fine arts, will work with FIU colleagues and students in hospitality, medicine, and other disciplines to conceive projects to fulfill a community need, such as outfitting homes to be safer for the disabled. The school will also collaborate with Miami Beach–based Rokk3r Labs, a company "co-builder," to hold workshops, seminars and other programming within the Makerbot Innovation Lab.
Digitally-fabricated folded aluminum screen animates a utilitarian structure.In the Miami Design District, even the parking garages are works of art. The recently completed City View Garage is no exception, thanks in part to a folded aluminum facade designed by IwamotoScott. Part of a design team that included developers Dacra and LVMH/L Real Estate, architect of record TimHaahs Engineers & Architects, architects Leong Leong, and artist John Baldessari, IwamotoScott crafted a three-dimensional metal screen for the southeast corner of the garage. Digitally fabricated by Zahner, the skin's gradient apertures and color pattern transform a utilitarian structure into an animated advertisement for South Florida's hottest creative neighborhood. IwamotoScott submitted multiple concept designs to the developers. "We had three really different schemes—they ranged in their complexity," said founding partner Lisa Iwamoto. "The one they came back with was the most complex, the most articulated facade. We were really happy with the choice." The final design was influenced by a series of external constraints, beginning with the desire to conceal parked cars from view. "It's a Miami thing; they don't really want to see the cars in the garage," explained Iwamoto. She pointed to the car park at 1111 Lincoln Road, where architects Herzog and de Meuron solved the visibility problem by consolidating the parking spaces at the center of each floor, away from the periphery. "For us that wasn't possible," she said. "The cars come right up to the edge so we had to find other ways of screening them." Another factor was the location of the property line—a mere eight inches out from the floor plate. This left IwamotoScott with less than a foot for both the skin and its supporting structure. "The strategy was how to create some optical three dimensionality, a facade that wouldn't feel static, visually," said Iwamoto. "That was our starting point. Then it was a lot of tweaking and geometric studies for how we could achieve those effects and make it buildable." The metal panels' geometric folds contribute to the feeling of depth, and add the stiffness necessary to meet Miami's heavy wind load requirements. In addition, the folds create a moving display of light and color under the city's ever-shifting skies, observed founding partner Craig Scott. "The faceting of the facade was a double payoff." The aluminum screen comprises five panel types. All have the same border shape, but the dimensions of the apertures change from type to type. In early computer drawings, IwamotoScott modeled each panel type in a different color to keep track of the pattern. Over time, explained Iwamoto, "the colors became important to us, so that's how we rendered it." The client liked it, too, so the screen was ultimately painted in a custom spectrum reinforcing the aperture gradient. But while the facade is in reality a panel system, "we were interested in having it feel more like a mural than panels—almost like a piece of fabric draped over the garage," said Iwamoto. "For us it was important that the seams did not follow a more conventional pattern of vertical lines." The apertures are arranged in an offset grid, and the architects avoided a simple system of vertical supports. Instead, the skin hangs from a collection of staggered aluminum fins affixed to the garage's concrete slabs. Zahner fabricated the metal facade in their Kansas City factory. Because they were working on a design-assist basis, the architects were able to make multiple trips to the production facility. "It was cool, because they would make a panel, and we'd say, 'that's almost right'" before adjusting the angle of the fold by a fraction of a degree, said Iwamoto. "It's amazing how many ways there are to skin a cat." Happily for the architects, Zahner's in-house analysis resulted in a panel system remarkably close to what IwamotoScott had envisioned. "I'm delighted with how we ended up," said Iwamoto. "We did our due diligence [in terms of exploring alternative fabrication schemes], but it wound up that the best way to build it was the way we had conceived it." IwamotoScott also took control of an adjacent section of the garage envelope: an open entry stair, elevator bay, and multistory office block. "That was a bonus for us," said Iwamoto. "Rather than someone else designing it, it just made sense for us to do it—it was really part of our elevation." Because so much of the project budget went to the garage skin, the architects stuck with a basic storefront system. "We wanted to make something simple that still had a design character sympathetic to the garage facade." To create a similar sense of animation, they slightly cantilevered each floor and utilized glass panes of different widths and opacities. IwamotoScott completed work on the office tower through design development; TimHaahs took the reigns when it came to detailing and beyond. Part of why IwamotoScott was particularly eager to design the southeast corner of City View Garage was that it is the portion of the structure directly facing the heart of the Miami Design District. The developers' vision for the neighborhood is "such an ambitious plan overall," said Iwamoto. It is a vision that is rapidly coming to fruition, as she herself has witnessed first-hand. "From the time we started work on the project to when it wasn't even 100 percent complete, the area was transformed," she said. "That's really exciting."
Even in a city like Miami, this twisting, LED-emblazoned tower seems a bit over the top. The curious 633-foot structure, called the Miami Innovation Tower, is the work of SHoP Architects, a firm known for adventurous designs, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to skinny supertall skyscrapers in Manhattan. But even with that reputation, this one takes us by surprise. The Miami Herald reported that the tower is part of developer Michael Simkins' plan for a four-block scheme to be called the "Miami Innovation District." The massive complex would sit between Miami's booming downtown and Overtown, which the Herald noted is one of the poorest parts of the city. Last week, SHoP reportedly submitted plans to the city for the Innovation District. But let's circle back to that twisting tower for a second. The basics: it has three sides, each of which can sport a digital sign up to 30,000 square feet. These massive walls will be put to good use, flashing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are also two more billboards on the tower's podium. So, to recap, in total, the Miami Innovation Tower is poised to include two acres of advertisements. Along with this advertising acreage, the tower will also have lounges, restaurants, gardens, plazas, and observation decks. In a statement to the Herald, Simkins said: “The iconic tower will elevate the city’s brand on a global level, enhance the city skyline, and complement and enhance the surrounding community." That could be true, if by "enhance the surrounding community" you mean flash glowing ads around the clock. The tower definitely has some hurdles to pass before its billboards are switched on, but Simkins' vision might actually happen. "Miami’s zoning administrator gave [Simkin's] Miami Innovation Tower plans a nod in March 2014, and in December the developer signed a covenant with the executive director of the redevelopment agency, which has to sign off on his sign application because it lies within the agency’s boundaries," reported the Herald. While the project will surely be controversial (the non-profit Scenic Miami has already said it is "appalled, truly appalled" by the plans), large-scale digital ads are not new to Miami. Just ask the dancing LED woman on the side of the Intercontinental Hotel (below). https://youtu.be/ic7mJtOQLr4
New towers seem to be cropping up in Downtown Miami every 15 minutes. But with the growing housing supply of apartments, and the impressive Perez Art Museum by Herzog & de Mueron, the area continues to be seriously lacking when it comes to walkability and open space. Now, that could change if a proposal by the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) gets the green light. The plan, called Biscayne Green designed by Behar Font & Partners, would completely overhaul six blocks of Biscayne Boulevard—a nearly 200-foot-wide roadway that runs between downtown and Bayfront Park. The most significant change would be replacing the existing surface-level parking lot in the middle of the boulevard with a series of parks and plazas. This linear park is intended to become a human-scaled public place that offers easy connections to the waterfront park. And a whole lot more. The DDA said it would support the existing sidewalk design by world-famous landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. And it would add to it with new paving technologies like solar pavers that light up when people step on them. There would also be programmable lighting systems to illuminate the new landscape, art installations, building rooftops, and water features. This influx of light would, according to the official plan, lead travelers flying above Downtown Miami to say things like this: "What are those lighted colors on the sidewalks/pavers below? – let’s visit [Downtown Miami]." Along with the cool lighting fixtures, Biscayne Green would also house exercise areas, markets, cafes, sports courts, and retail kiosks. Kids would get a sandbox and their parents, a "grown-up playground." To make room for the grown-up playground and all the rest of it, the DDA creates a below-grade parking lot. CityLab noted that while surface-level parking spots would be reduced from 400 to 200, the new subterranean lot would have space for 357 more cars, giving Downtown Miami 150 new parking space. So far, Florida's DOT seems generally supportive of the plan. A representative from the department told Miami Today: “As state transportation partners, we find the DDA’s vision to be pedestrian friendly, aesthetically pleasing and in line with the department’s Complete Streets vision."
Why is Paul Rudolph—like much of Brutalism—so unloved by officialdom? His Orange County Government in Goshen, New York has been under threat of demolition by local government for several years. Now an elegant canopy the architect designed and built in 196o for Sarasota High School in Florida may also end up in a local landfill. Rudolph designed the elongated covering to connect the School with a new addition he designed behind it’s main brick building. The addition is undergoing a thorough renovation and the main building is being taken over by the Ringling College of Art & Design to become a midtown exhibition space. The Ringling wants to renovate the old school and argued that the canopy sits in the way of construction workers and materials entering the building. Ringling College claimed: "We are removing...only the area necessary to continue renovation of the historic Sarasota High School building. We also believe, but do not have final corroboration, that the section we are taking down is also not part of the original Paul Rudolph design but was added on later." But now several groups from Sarasota Architectural Foundation and Docomomo are asking the Ringling to hold off on the demolition. They are also asking the public to contact Larry Thompson (941-359-7601 or 941-365-7603), president of The Ringling College of Art & Design, and ask him to save the Rudolph canopies and incorporate them into the permanent collection of the new museum.
Eavesdrop> What Climate Change? Florida government allegedly bans the words "climate change" and "sustainability"
Florida officials have reportedly banned the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from using “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sustainability” in all official correspondence. According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, this “unwritten policy” went into effect in 2011, after Republican Governor Rick Scott took office and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as DEP director. In response to this story, a spokesperson for the department would only say that it “does not have a policy on this.” Rising sea levels are expected to affect 30 percent of Florida’s beaches over the next 85 years. Eavesdrop is no environmental scientist, but if that projection proves true, not mentioning its cause will not make it go away.
Just about every city on planet earth wants to build its own version of New York City's hugely popular High Line. The ever-growing list includes Miami that plans to turn a 10-mile stretch of underutilized land beneath its elevated Metrorail into a park and bike path. The project is called "The Underline" because, well, you get it. While there is no firm construction timeline for the project, James Corner Field Operations, the lead landscape architect behind the actual High Line, has been picked by a local jury to create a master plan for the park. The firm was selected out of 19 submissions and five finalists that included dlandstudio, Balmori Associates, Perkins + Will, and Stoss. The Miami Herald reported that the $500,00 design contract is being funded by local cities and private foundations. The design is due in September and no construction money has been secured just yet.
This mall looks like it should be built in Dubai, but it's actually planned in Miami as the nation's largest
The slew of stories on the death of the American shopping mall has not deterred one real estate company from submitting plans to build the largest shopping and entertainment center in the country. The Miami Herald reported that the ambitious plan comes from the Triple 5 Group, a company that knows a thing or two about big malls—it owns and runs the Mall of America in Minnesota. Apparently not satisfied with letting that mall remain the nation's largest, the developer has unveiled designs for something even larger in Miami-Dade County. If you ignore the mall's very 1950s, Americana-sounding name, "American Dream Miami," it looks like something you might find in Dubai or a Chinese city, but, no, the 200-acre complex is planned for the good ol' U.S. of A. So, what does the American Dream include? Well, restaurants and shops, and hotels and condominiums, and mini golf, and a theme park, and a skating rink, and a Legoland, a Ferris wheel, and indoor gardens, and—get ready for these two—a sea-lion show and a "submarine lake." Oh, and in a very Dubai-move, it also has a 12-story indoor ski slope. Sorry, one more thing—there is also some sort of telescope situation poking out of what appears to be the "ski dome." For the American Dream to become a reality, the developer first needs a change in zoning to move things along. From there, things get a little tricky. Triple 5 could acquire most of its required land from a private company, but 80 acres of the site is owned by the state. And, as the Herald pointed out, the Miami-Dade school system has a lease on a big chunk of that acreage. Apparently, Triple 5 would give the school system $7 million to waive its lease and another $11 million to the state for the rest of the land. Triple 5 could also be asked to fund mass transit improvements in the area. The plan will reportedly be considered by county commissioners and the school board later this month.
AN has an exclusive look at a new home in Golden Beach, Florida designed by Chad Oppenheim of Oppenheim Architecture + Design. If we’re being honest here, the 23,000-square-foot home is really more of a resort masquerading as a private residence. Or maybe it's a private residence masquerading as a resort. Either way, the home is massive and packed with amenities. First, 699 Ocean Boulevard has a 5,000-square-foot spa that is twice the size of the average new home built in America. Inside the mansion-sized home spa is a steam room, sauna, arctic room (what?), treatment baths, and a sunken hammam room. There’s also a “spa pool with jets” and a “lap pool with a waterfall.” The very, very large home is comprised of stacked concrete volumes that are visually softened by overgrown vegetation and moveable vertical wood slats that act as a shading system. Massive window panes and openings connect the interior and exterior spaces giving the entire place a very open and airy feel. To complete the natural feel, Oppenheim plants a tall “living wall” of local and exotic flora in the main entryway. If at any point, this home—with its en-suite eight bedrooms—starts to feel a little cramped, there is always the 700-square-foot guest house next door. For the record, that guest is house is 200 square feet smaller than the home's main kitchen. “We worked really hard to make sure this home will enhance every aspect of your life–from pulling into this incredible garage to sitting on a second story terrace or a roof garden and opening the windows that retract automatically into the walls, really helping one connect viscerally to the place,” said Oppenheim in a promotional video for the home. The home is listed at $36 million so booking a few nights at a resort probably makes more sense. Looks like you're going to have to share the hammam room.