Posts tagged with "Miami":

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OMA’s initial plans for a Miami condo complex were hilariously below par

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

In related Related Group news, The Architect's Newspaper is hearing that when OMA submitted its plans for the three-tower Park Grove condo complex in Miami’s Coconut Grove, the initial submission was hilariously below par. Because OMA had not done very much housing, the original RFQ contained some of Rem Koolhaas’s earliest conceptual housing schemes. When the designs for Park Grove were delivered to Related, they had no closets and the kitchens were too small. It took a collaboration with a local, condo-experienced architect to get them up to speed. It worked out, however, Park Grove is now over halfway done: Two Park Grove and the Club Residences recently topped off, and One Park Grove is expected to break ground in 2018.

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Who you need to know in Miami’s up-and-coming design scene

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Miami’s up-and-coming design scene is looking to the city’s past, materials, and building vernacular to realize new design that is all about Miami. The Architect's Newspaper spoke with five of the hottest firms in the city to find out what the rest of us might be missing out on in the 3-0-5.

Cure & Penabad Adib Cúre and Carie Penabad

How does your practice’s ideology manifest through your projects? The portfolio of projects, both domestic and international, displays an intense commitment to the discipline of architecture, its material culture, and constructional conventions. The work challenges the double tyranny of program and diagram that have come to dominate the design process today, relying on a broader understanding of history and typology for a looser and therefore more sustainable fit between program and form. What trends should everybody be watching for in Miami? Miami is a young city that has experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade. As the city develops its urban core in response to rising seas and global climate change, it is necessary to not only build more sustainably but to invest in the public realm, particularly with regard to public space and transportation.

Gelpi Projects Nick Gelpi

How does your practice’s ideology manifest through your projects? We are a design practice dedicated to examining the material relationships of building concepts by focusing on the collisions between materials and representation.

In years past, faced with a lack of clients, our focus was primarily design as research, engaging materials as a type of sparring partner…bending, testing, and manipulating basic materials looking for new design potentials through feedback. Recently we have had the opportunity to build buildings, so we have tried to engage materials and details as a way of destabilizing basic assumptions about design and construction. We strive to engage construction itself as a culturally transformative act.

What trends should everybody be watching for in Florida? In Florida, one must be concerned with where the water is. The built environment here is always considered in terms of its proximity to the water. The opening of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami illustrated new potentials for articulating the edge between the interior and the exterior space, and also for the positioning of the building in relationship to the Biscayne Bay. The museum seemed to revive historic examples of vernacular architectures for addressing these concerns, drawing from references including an old community of buildings actually built out in the bay, called Stiltsville. NC-office Peter Nedev, Elizabeth Cardona, Cristina Canton, and Nikolay Nedev. How does your practice’s ideology manifest through your projects? We believe that architectural design is a process of accommodation, rather than scientific deduction. Our practice does not subscribe to predetermined biases. Instead, we search for the most appropriate solution to any given condition largely influenced by the specificity of the place and the particular needs of the client. Our work aims to be environmentally conscious, sensitive in its use of materials, and appropriate to its dimensions. We believe that there is no single truth in the production of meaningful design. Any upcoming project you are particularly excited about? We are currently working on a commercial brewery and tasting room that will be located in Hialeah, Florida, within a new district created to promote art and culture called the “Leah Arts District.” It will be the City of Hialeah’s first brewery. What trends should everybody be watching for in Florida? There is a rediscovery of Florida’s tropical vernacular and a return to that elemental knowledge in the use of louvers, screens and passive design strategies. These responses to site and climate are contributing factors for the implementation of current and new construction methods. Studio Roberto Rovira Roberto Rovira Could you talk a bit about your studio’s process and philosophy? Our studio operates at the intersection of landscape architecture, art, and technology. We view landscape’s innate lack of resolution and inexactness as strengths. Our work strives to engage the in-between, the ephemeral, and the passing, and we embrace a mode of practice that alternates between art and design as essential methods of inquiry. Do you have a recent project that you are particularly excited about? One of the projects about which we are most excited is our Ecological Atlas, which attempts to simplify the visualization and understanding of the natural world. By using intuitive, graphic mappings that can convey changes in bloom times, deciduous tree patterns, produce seasonality, animal migrations, and other time-dependent phenomena, the Ecological Atlas facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the natural world in ways that are essential to building a sustainable and resilient future. It bridges art, science, and design, and connects the power of data and technology to the rich complexity of natural systems. Touzet Studio Carlos Prio-Touzet and Jacqueline Gonzalez Touzet How do you approach design, and how does that set the office apart from others in Miami? We are architects who love modernism and finely crafted design solutions. Our work is very intensely research driven—inspired by nature, technology, and the culture of the place or the people for whom we are designing. We think of our architecture and design as a way for us to tell stories and reflect about the people and the place. Our attention to detail and understanding of materials is an area where our studio is fairly unique in Miami. We love the creative exploration and intellectual journey as much as collaborating with builders throughout the process on the end product. We probably do more historical and material research, and build more study models and full-size mock-ups than other local firms. We still draw by hand extensively, as well as make heavy use of the digital tools available. We envisioned our studio to be a real collaborative studio environment, not just an architectural office. Do you have a recent project that you are particularly excited about? We recently completed a couple of flagship buildings on one entire block of historic Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, including the new Apple Store, Gap, and a recently completed Nike Store. All three projects were for global design brands that wanted a unique expression of their vision in Miami, and were very well-received by the Historic Preservation Board.

RAD LAB and Miami Beach Studios Written by William Menking

No architecture center can expand beyond local limits and become an international magnate for creative practice unless it has a strong university research component bringing new people in the profession. The two major architecture schools in South Florida, Florida International University and the University of Miami, have created such centers in the last five years. Here we take a brief look a these facilities:

RAD LAB RAD-UM at the University of Miami is one of the most creative and productive research initiatives in an architecture school today. The concept for the lab is the creation of Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury who has migrated the lab from his academic positions at the University of Toronto (where the lab continues) and California College of the Arts in San Francisco. El-Khoury has developed and refined this experimental studio beyond the normal closed university studios into one the most important and productive research centers in the country.

It has been commonly accepted in academia and advanced sectors of the design profession that the future of computing is not in static table-top machines, but embedded in objects that surround our daily life like a Nest Thermostat or lighting that senses the presence or absence of people in a room.

RAD-UM has taken this reality of our changing relationship with technology and asked design researchers and students to imagine its potential and real effects on our public and private spaces. For their first project, Bio-Reactor, they created a set of acrylic shelves with LED-lit algae jars. According to the website, “Each LED can be individually controlled and thus, through photosynthesis, the rate of growth of the algae in each jar and subsequently, the density and color of each jar, can be controlled.” It is a beautiful low-resolution display and el-Khoury believes it will have a more important long-term effect for living walls. The Miami Beach Urban Studios The Miami Beach Urban Studios is a research center on Lincoln Road that brings together faculty, students, and outside collaborators from seven different disciplines in art, design, and technology. The studio’s executive director John Stuart described it as “the love child produced by a wild night of beach partying with the MIT Media Lab and the Wexner Center at Ohio State University.”  “If you want to see the creative soul of these other universities,” Stuart continued, “you need to know what these research centers are doing—it’s the same with our lab and Florida International University.” Stuart thinks of the facility as a “connecter or collider” where often disparate disciplines meet at the center’s unique 3-D printer—the largest in the world. The lab has 3-D-printed large-format images of a Morris Lapidus building in Miami Beach and multiple projects profiling potential scenarios and the effects of sea level rise on the community. A final project that demonstrates the diverse collaborators in the lab is a 3-D printed violin for students and veterans with prosthetics limbs. This project joined together representatives from the lab’s Human Sensation project with the FIU Adaptive Neural Systems Lab, the High Performance Database Research Center, the FIU VizLab, Venture Hive, Rokk3r Labs, and the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations.
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A new book explores Bacardi’s use of architecture going back to the 1800s

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.

From its 1862 origins in Santiago, Cuba, Bacardi has grounded its identity through architecture—whether in utilitarian distilleries and factories or in more aesthetic offices and showrooms. Allan Shulman’s Building Bacardi: Architecture, Art & Identity traces the beverage empire’s affair with design beginning in 1800s Cuba, its migrations to the United States and throughout Latin America, and into new facilities in Europe after the turn of the century. Throughout these moves, Shulman contends that the company’s image and brand determinedly combined contemporary and vernacular elements.

Shulman lays the foundations for Bacardi’s architectural ambitions in the competition for the Bacardi Building in Havana. Located in the colonial heart of the capital, the building took a turn for the modern in 1930 when the winning architects, Esteban Rodríguez-Castells and Rafael Fernández Ruenes, changed the facade during construction from Renaissance Revival to a more contemporary art deco. Yet distinctly Cuban elements were incorporated, such as leaded glass, louvered windows, and local colors and patterns, to provide the building with a local identity. A visual landmark, the tower’s predominant function was the tasting room, a cocktail bar that catered to the largely American Prohibition-era clientele.

In post-Prohibition New York in 1933, this modern vernacular mix imbibed a Cuban flavor. Morris Sanders designed the new Bacardi Bar, which would take up space in the historic New York Club. The bar featured white leather focal points in an otherwise dark space, with a backdrop of a somewhat satirical mural by William Gropper to drive home the Cuban sensibility. A similar tactic was employed in 1938 for the Bacardi Room in the Empire State Building. Designed by Franklin Hughes, the space on the 35th floor was inwardly focused, with wooden screens blocking outside views; in their place, a mural by Antonio Gattorno, Waiting for Coffee, depicted a pastoral scene of sugar cane fields.

While Bacardi’s architectural style vacillates from utilitarian to expressive, it was never left to chance. Bacardi created its facilities by interpreting the local style through modern design and construction, a hybrid that often resulted from mixing local and international architects. Much of this mix appears in the wonder years of 1944 to 1977 when Bacardi was led by Jose Mario “Pepin” Bosch, who thought of himself more as a patron than a client. The breadth of architects and designers included under his reign certainly attests to this.

Native Cubans led the early work. Enrique Luis Varela designed the Modelo brewery near Havana and laboratories in Santiago in 1948. Ermina Odoardo-Ricardo Eguilior Arquitectos designed an addition to a plant in Santiago in the 1950s, as well as the Bacardi International Limited Building in Bermuda in 1972. In 1954 Sáenz, Cancio & Martín (SACMAG), appearing as both design engineer-architect and architect of record throughout Bosch’s tenure, developed a master plan for the new headquarters near Santiago along the central highway for its “modernity, mobility, and connectedness,” themes that pervaded Bacardi’s ethos. In 1956–57, Bosch commissioned Philip Johnson for a private residence and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for an administrative building. Both went unbuilt under Cuba’s growing political tensions. Shulman argues that the Mies van der Rohe’s design reappeared somewhat modified as the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

Though aligned with the Cuban Revolution, by 1960 the company’s assets in Cuba had been nationalized, and Bacardi exiled. But, in 1936, Bacardi had expanded to Puerto Rico to capitalize on being in a U.S. territory as Prohibition ended. A new campus with the main plant designed by Toro y Ferrer Arquitectos was constructed there in 1954. Construction increased after exile, including an expressive canopy-structure pavilion by SACMAG in 1962, and the Foyer Museum and Bottling Plant in 1965 by Miguel Rosich and Ignacio Carrera-Justiz. Félix Candela was tapped for an unbuilt warehouse design. Instead, he completed multiple commissions in Mexico. In Tulatitán, Mexico, Mies van der Rohe, with SACMAG as the architect of record, designed the company’s administrative building in 1958.

One of Bacardi’s more dynamic duos appears in Miami. In 1963, SACMAG’s seven-story Bacardi Imports Tower rose as a small service core to support a large truss from which the rest of the building hangs. An antithesis of the modern corporate office building, the lobby was moved to the second floor and the plaza level was a gallery. Shulman points out a striking similarity in the urban plan of the tower set back in a public plaza to Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building completed in 1958. A decade later, a smaller “mushroom” building—an administration annex—designed by Carrera-Justiz appeared. The tower was faced with dark glass on the longer sides, while the short sides featured blue and white stone and tile murals. The annex took this a step further and faced the entire building with hammered colored glass set in epoxy. The design by Johannes Dietz gives the mural a magical lantern effect.

Following Bosch’s retirement in 1976, Bacardi focused on its individual brands and new acquisitions. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that attention to facility design reemerged. Bacardi began renovating historical structures as it had done in the past, with a hospital in Puerto Rico in 1939 and a Spanish monastery in 1975. With new renovations in Juillac-le-Coq, France, and Aberfeldy, Scotland, the most spectacular of the new era is Heatherwick Studio’s renovation and glasshouse enclosures for the Bombay Sapphire distillery on the site of former mills in Laverstoke, England. Here, the modern and vernacular complement more than mix.

The portfolio-sized book shows what it tells. Full-color photos, drawings, historical documents and Bacardi paraphernalia follow the text. However, calling it a coffee or cocktail table book would do little service to Shulman’s research, which is thorough without being too technical for non-architects. The design coverage is comprehensive, yet succinct. The large images make it easy to flip across the book’s geographic organization, and a timeline is included. While the history of Bacardi is shown broadly, those wanting more are directed by an extensive set of endnotes and bibliography.

Building Bacardi: Architecture, Art & Identity Allan Shulman, Rizzoli, $60.00

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Miami’s working-class neighborhoods organize to reject gentrification

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.

Across Miami-Dade County, organizations like Miami Homes For All (MHFA), Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH), Miami’s People Acting for Community Together (PACT), and Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami (FANM), among others, have been instrumental in launching affordability campaigns across threatened and economically distressed neighborhoods. In the process, these groups are lending a voice to many of the Miami working-class communities as the forces of gentrification and luxury development rewrite the region’s urban fabric.

Miami real estate is booming but in all the wrong ways. A recent flowering of luxury condominium development coupled with a surging population and decades’ worth of under-building have pushed rents sky-high. Miami’s growing urban core—especially the neighborhoods of Brickell, Overtown, and Wynwood—are beginning to push past their traditional neighborhood boundaries, destabilizing surrounding communities. According to the 2016 Housing Miami Together report compiled by MHFA, an advocacy group dedicated to alleviating local poverty, Miami has the nation’s highest percentage of rent-burdened households. In response, advocates are pushing for increased development of affordable housing units and for mixed-income and transit-oriented developments across the region.

MHFA held a special housing summit in 2016 that spawned the aforementioned report. The conference led to increased efforts by groups like nonprofit housing developer South Florida Community Development Coalition (SFCDC) and PACT, a direct-action organization made up of religious congregations and groups, to push the county to implement a slate of pro-affordability reforms. The groups were instrumental in getting the county to establish an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that would be used to harness additional resources for new affordable units. The county contributes 25 percent of proceeds from certain county-owned land sales to the fund, which itself dedicates 50 percent of overall resources toward the development of very low– and extremely low–income housing. MHFA also provides Section 8 project-based vouchers through the Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development Department in order to embed Section 8 housing in market-rate developments.

MHFA executive director Barbara Ibarra said, “We treat homelessness as a part of the affordability crisis,” adding that her group is focused on what is referred to as a “continuum of housing” that spans from the market-rate sector to various other income-defined groups, including formerly homeless individuals. Ibarra explained that MHFA is working, broadly speaking, to expand the prevalence of mixed-income communities across the Miami-Dade County area. She added, “It’s frustrating to see luxury development going on without any forethought being put to housing for people who take care of and work in those buildings. [Developers] have not been building housing for them.”

And it shows. A big problem in the rental market due to the apartment shortage has been the rise in slumlord-controlled properties. Adrian Madriz, project leader at SMASH, an initiative within the Center for Social Change, said, “Our organization seeks to smash the slumlords that target Liberty City and Overtown. They are grossly negligent and keep buildings in woeful disrepair.” The group’s program in those neighborhoods has seized properties from area slumlords and converted them to community ownership via a community land trust. The units are ultimately renovated as affordable housing and rent-to-own properties. Madriz added, “People are being priced out of decent living conditions. They’re being forced to live in places with cheaper rents in properties that are in worse repair.”

SMASH is currently working on two housing projects and is looking to develop emergency housing solutions for residents removed from extremely dilapidated or unsafe living conditions. For the latter effort, SMASH is looking to modular, shipping container, or prefabricated building systems to increase housing availability substantially. Madriz explained that certain shipping container designs can be engineered to be stronger than typical Type-V construction, an important consideration in the hurricane-prone region.

Developers, advocates, and city agencies are also working to implement a mix of so-called “2-percent fixes” like density bonuses for inclusionary housing, relaxed parking requirements, and upzoning measures. The measures individually boost housing production slightly and when taken together can make for sizable shifts in housing affordability. Regional partners are using these measures in order to incentivize the development of more deed-restricted affordable and less expensive market-rate units.

Miami-Dade is currently redeveloping the Liberty Square public housing projects in North Miami. Seven hundred existing units will be rebuilt as a 1,500-unit mixed-income, mixed-use community by developer Related Urban Development Group. Alberto Milo Jr., principal and senior vice president, said, “There has been a void in the development of workforce housing within the City of Miami,” adding that too many projects are “being developed with either all low-income or all market-rate units, but nothing in between.” Related’s growing portfolio in the region will include increasing amounts of mixed-income housing to take advantage of new incentives aimed at increasing affordable resources via mixed-income developments. When asked about whether mixed-income developments can relieve pressure on Miami’s historic working-class neighborhoods, Milo explained that they “are essential to the long-term viability of these lower-income neighborhoods, and will give quality housing choices to many working individuals and families.”

Ibarra also supports the idea, and described expanding the inclusion of low-income housing units in transit-oriented development across the city as “very critical” to maintaining affordability.

In many ways, the emerging mixed-use and transit-oriented trends pit developers and newcomers focused on a vision for a denser, transit-accessible—and, potentially, more equitable—Miami against longtime residents increasingly being priced out of their own neighborhoods. The sentiment led the neighborhood of Little Haiti on the city’s north end to fight for official city designation as developer Cho Dragon Management and architects Arquitectonica pursue a new 15-acre “innovation district” there. The $1 billion project aims to bring a 30,000-square-foot coworking space, a sculpture garden, and a 15,000-square-foot innovation center to the neighborhood. The problem is that new developers working in the area have taken to branding their projects after the historical moniker Magic City, a designation taken from a time before the neighborhood was populated by Haitian immigrants. FANM, an organization in Little Haiti that works to empower and deliver social services to Haitian women, recently worked to get the Little Haiti neighborhood officially designated by the city. The fear among the Haitian population is that as development moves in, Little Haiti will be wiped from the map.

FANM’s efforts paid off when the city council voted to approve the designation. At the meeting, Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM, said, “We are elated. Now no one can come and erase the name of Little Haiti. If this decision was not made today, in a few years Little Haiti would disappear.”

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

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

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

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

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

Take a look at the latest batch of residential towers:

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

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

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

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

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

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

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

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

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

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

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Luxury condo tower Icon Brickell’s pool springs a leak

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

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

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Philippe Starck crafts nautical dream world for new Miami restaurant

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

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

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

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

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

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

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

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

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

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

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

Betsy-Carlton Hotel 1440 Ocean Drive, Miami

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

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Arquitectonica was founded in 1977 as a loose collective of designers working out of a Miami strip mall. The original five members were Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Laurinda Spear, Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Hervin Romney. Though Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Romney eventually went off in different directions Fort-Brescia and Spear remained as Arquitectonica and created the most important Miami architecture firm in the world. They gained early fame for their Brickell Avenue high-rise, the Atlantis Condominium. The Atlantis appeared over the credits of the television show Miami Vice in the 1980s and helped create the image of glamorous style now associated with the city.

The firm is the first one in South Florida to have an ambition larger than the city itself and has built all over the country and overseas. It now has over 850 employees working in eight other cities from Paris to Shanghai and is currently building in 58 countries around the world.

A survey of the firm’s projects currently on the boards reveals an astonishing number of large skyscraper and complexes that display its ability to create stylish exterior facades and interior public spaces.

Arquitectonica has built dozens of important buildings in Miami, but one that highlights its current design philosophy is the massive Brickell City Centre just blocks away from its early residential buildings. The Centre is a massive 4.9-million-square-foot development on 9.1 acres, including an underground car park, two mid-rise office buildings, two residential towers, a hotel with residences, and 500,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space. The centerpiece of the project is a large open-air shopping mall covered with a sculptural glass canopy called the Climate Ribbon (designed in collaboration with Hugh Dutton Associés, Cardiff University, and Carnegie Mellon University) that snakes through the projects and acts a brise-soleil and flange for catching prevailing winds. Fort-Brescia was tasked with developing the uniform look of the Centre in his signature glass-and-steel manner.

Brickell City Centre sits adjacent to the city’s geographic heart and connects to key transport nodes by incorporating the Metromover light-rail station and offering easy access to all major highways. Arquitectonica is known for developing stylish interiors and even product design (lead by Spear) but in Brickell Centre they are virtually designing a new city within a city that will likely become the new heart of the region.

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Optimism fuels Miami’s mega-developments, but a denser Miami isn’t a sure thing

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

New York or Los Angeles?

These are the two contrasting models of urbanism that Raymond Fort, designer at Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica, cites when asked about Miami’s future. In New York, numerous walkable neighborhoods—whose density, convenience, and character are major assets—are connected by a robust public transportation system. In Los Angeles, low density and car-oriented urbanism is the norm outside the downtown core (though transit-oriented development has begun to spread in recent years). Many developers working in Miami are clearly enthusiastic about the New York model. However, that future isn’t guaranteed: The potential for car-dominated sprawl and other hybrid models still exist.

Arquitectonica is behind Brickell City Centre, a 5.4-million-square-foot complex of offices, luxury condos, a hotel, and ample retail south of Downtown Miami. Developed by Swire Group, Brickell is one of the many large, mixed-use developments in Miami that signals movement toward density. Phase one opened late last year, and phase two will entail an 80-story mixed-use tower.

Just north of downtown, there’s Miami Worldcenter, a 17-million-square-foot, 27-acre complex. It’s a joint venture by multiple developers, with Boston-based Elkus Manfredi leading the master plan and designing the center’s phase one, which is anchored by a 1-million-square-foot retail podium. Phase two is a $750 million convention center and hotel.

Development isn’t only concentrated in the urban core. About two miles north of Downtown in the Wynwood neighborhood, developer Moishe Mana and Miami-based Zyscovich Architects are poised to build a 9.72-million-square-foot, 23.5-acre development that will feature as many as 3,482 residential units, a mix of retail, office, and cultural programming, as well as an extensive public “Mana Commons” that will cut through the complex’s cluster of medium-rise towers. Dubbed Mana Wynwood, it won approvals last September. More like it may be on the way: In Little Haiti, the Eastside Ridge development will replace 500 townhouses with 7.2 million square feet of mixed-use development, and another project dubbed “Magic City(also located in Little Haiti) would see an innovation center, business incubator, housing, retail, and other art-entertainment facilities arise across a 15-acre campus.

What’s driving all of these major concentrations of development? In part, affluent young professionals across the U.S. are moving to cities seeking walkable, transit-connected neighborhoods, and developers are eager to meet that need. But there are factors unique to Miami. One is the city’s zoning: The Miami 21 code, implemented some six and half years ago, has significant parking requirements that incentivize large developments. For example, in dense high-rise areas, the code mandates 1.5 parking spaces per unit. Consequently, smaller projects struggle to meet the logistical and economic challenges of incorporating that much parking into their site. Bigger projects can more easily integrate a parking garage into their lower levels. Furthermore, if a development covers nine contiguous acres, it can qualify for a Special Area Plan, an arrangement that allows developers more flexibility in situating parking and negotiating the rules of Miami 21’s form-based code. This maximizes the development’s value. Brickell, Mana Wynwood, and the Worldcenter, as well as virtually all of Miami’s major developments, are (or have applied for) Special Area Plans.

Miami’s geography is also part of the equation. John Stuart, professor of architecture at Florida International University and executive director of its Miami Beach Urban Studios, explained how wealth from the Caribbean and Central and South America has historically flowed into Miami. “We have this gravitational pull from the south,” he said. Affluent people from Chile, Venezuela, and elsewhere come to Miami seeking “these kinds of urban experiences where they’re safe, their products are confirmed as authentic, but they’re close to their own countries….”

But the city’s geography turns from an asset to a risk when one considers the threat of extreme weather and sea-level rise. Miami Beach, which sits a mere four feet above sea level (compared to Miami’s six feet), is regularly inundated during king (high) tides and is spending nearly half a billion dollars to raise streets, install pumps, and push back the waters. Faced with such uncertainty, Stuart sees mega-developments as “just overflowing with optimism” and the belief that climate change will be remedied, ameliorated, or far enough away to not warrant significant concern in the near future.

In the shorter term, how Miami 21 and public transportation evolve may be deciding factors in shaping the city. In Wynwood, the City of Miami Planning Department is testing out a new zoning overlay that alleviates parking requirements for developments with smaller units. If Wynwood ceases to become the exception, then dense growth may not be restricted to Special Area Plan developments and the downtown urban core.

This leads to the issue of public transportation. “That’s at the core of much of what’s fragmenting the city, holding it back economically, socially, culturally,” said Stuart. “There’s very little opportunity for people who live in a neighborhood they can afford to access other neighborhoods for employment, artistic production, or other means.” Miami is in the process of funding and planning an expansion of the Metrorail, the city’s above ground heavy-rail rapid transit system. Eighty-two miles of new rail and six new lines—costing $3.6 billion—would connect the city’s burgeoning neighborhoods with each other and downtown. Complicating the situation are Uber and Lyft, whose low rates can be competitive with public transportation. Moreover, according to Fort, the prospect of driverless cars adds a new level of uncertainty to major public transportation investment.

A conversation about public transportation and mega-developments must also include the question of affordability. According to a 2016 study from the New York University Furman Center, in Miami “85 percent of recently available rental units were unaffordable to the typical renter household,” making the city the least affordable for renters among the country’s top 11 metro areas. But there are glimmers of hope: As development moves from the urban core and the waterfront to places like Wynwood, more non-luxury units may come online. Additionally, the city is already taking steps to increase affordable housing stock: A measure passed in late February would reward residential projects that feature affordable units with greater density and less required parking. However, while the downtown core and Wynwood don’t have large existing communities facing gentrification, that challenge may arise elsewhere. In other instances, density alone may deter development: Earlier this year, local opposition stopped a 1.2-million-square-foot Special Area Plan development east of Little Haiti.

For a firsthand experience, Fort recommends riding the Metrorail to survey the city—from there, you can see pockets of development (Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Brickell, Downtown) that he thinks could become medium-density nodes in a new polycentric city. He also cites neighborhoods like Edgewater, Wynwood, and the Design District that aren’t on the Metrorail but are still growing. “That’s what I think the next phase of development in Miami is,” he said, “where we look at neighborhoods and understand what’s missing” to make them mixed-use, denser, and affordable. Optimism for density, however, is just one of many factors—climate change, transportation technology, affordability, and zoning codes, to name a few—that will shape Miami in the years to come.

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

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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