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
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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."
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.
The Architectural League's Emerging Voices lecture series, now in its 30th year, has reliably identified important new talent through a juried selection process. This year's group reflects a number of important currents in contemporary practice in North America. In recent years, a number of young Mexican firms have been showcased, and this year's group includes three practices, Ambrosi Etchegaray, Atelier ARS, and CC Arquitectos, which represent that country's proud tradition of stark and rooted modernism. Boston, long seen as conservative place to work, is represented by two young firms, Merge Architects, and Neri Oxman. A can-do pragmatism and urbanistic grit informs Philadelphia's ISA, and the pioneering digital designers Aranda/Lasch, based in New York and Tucson, are rapidly moving from installations and furniture to significant freestanding buildings. The emergence of landscape architecture and landscape urbanism is reflected in the design and research of Miami's Studio Roberto Rovira. For a full schedule of the Emerging Voices lecture series, visit the League's website. Full profiles of each firm will be available in the March East Coast edition of AN.
Fly's Eye Dome reproduction applies contemporary tools and materials to 1970s concept.Thirty years after R. Buckminster Fuller's death, the visionary inventor and architect's Fly's Eye Dome has been reborn in Miami. Unveiled during Art Basel Miami Beach 2014, the replica dome, designed and fabricated by Goetz Composites in cooperation with the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI), pays tribute to Fuller both aesthetically and technologically. Constructed using contemporary materials and digital design tools, the new 24-foot Fly's Eye Dome (which serves as the pedestrian entrance to a parking garage in the Miami Design District) is yet further evidence that the creator of the geodesic dome was ahead of his time. BFI commissioned Goetz based on the firm's prior work restoring the original Fly's Eye Dome. At the end of that process, they created a 3D scan of the prototype for BFI's records. The digital files were the jumping-off point for the reproduction, for which ConForm Lab's Seth Wiseman provided critical design assistance, as did Daniel Reiser of DR Design. Wiseman produced a parametric model of the dome's truncations in Grasshopper, then compared his model to the 3D scan of the original to make sure the geometries matched. A 2012 reproduction of the Fly's Eye Dome, the MGM Butterfly Pavilion in Macau, China, constituted a practice round of sorts. "For Macau, we had a tight timeline: from the algorithm to shipment [we had] six weeks," said Wiseman. "We were able to review and tweak the geometry for the Miami dome—to refine it and make it more consistent with the original prototype." Goetz, Reiser, and Wiseman introduced a few crucial changes into the Miami reproduction. "Bucky's original intent and concept was well-placed, but it suffered in execution," observed Wiseman. Fuller's prototype used a shingle system of overlapping truncations to shed water. As a result, the geometry was complicated. "The problem for us, from the manufacturing standpoint, is that it required four different molds," said Wiseman. "Though technology allows us to produce something of this complexity fairly easily, it's cost-prohibitive unless we're doing something on a production scale." The design team eliminated the shingle system, instead using a standard two-legged flange and coupler attachment to connect adjacent truncations on the dome's interior. The attachments are both mechanically fastened—for fidelity to Fuller's vision—and epoxy fitted—to meet engineering requirements. "If we were to do a third iteration, our hope is to develop joinery to eliminate the fasteners, for both assembly and aesthetic reasons," said Wiseman. In keeping with Fuller's commitment to all things cutting-edge, Goetz fabricated the reproduction using 21st-century materials and methods. They selected a PRO-SET epoxy originally developed for use on Coast Guard vessels to stand up to the South Florida weather, and replaced the glass domes with polycarbonate lenses sourced by Wasco and detailed with help from 3M. The composite forms were milled on a 5-axis CNC machine using EPS foam molds. (MouldCAM did some of the CNC cutting.) "The nice part with the Miami dome is that it's the next iteration," said Wiseman. "We've created a fire-retardant, code-compliant structure in the same vein [as the original]. I hate to say it, but I'm kind of excited to see a major storm hit Florida and see how it performs." For Goetz's Chase Hogoboom, the Fly's Eye Dome represents not just the history, but also the future of architecture. "Our background historically has been building state-of-the-art racing sailboats," he said. "We're seeing more and more demand for use of composites in architectural applications, mainly as a result of designers using programs that allow them to design very complicated shapes that need to be structural. And if you look at a Bucky dome, it's a complicated shape that needs to be structural."
With Art Basel underway, not-quite-yet-starchitect Fernando Romero has unveiled new plans for what could become Miami's next architectural icon: the Latin American Art Museum (LAAM). That's right, this 90,000 square foot, cantilevering structure could overshadow the nearby works of his higher-profile peers like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Lord Norman Foster. And Jeanne Gang and Herzog & de Meuron. And also Bjarke Ingels and Enrique Norten, because Romero's—sorry, and Richard Meier and Rem Koolhaas. Okay, that has to be everyone. All starchitects have been accounted for. Where were we? Right, the Latin American Art Museum. Romero's firm, Fernando Romero EnterprisE (FR-EE) has created an arresting structure defined by generous, crisscrossing terraces that provide circulation and open-air gallery space called "sculptural gardens." Together, the rotated squares evoke a deck of cards being shuffled or an uneven stack of plates. “The different levels of the building define LAAM’S program,” FR-EE said in a statement. “The first floor will be reserved to young and emergent artists; the second one will be for temporal exhibitions; the third floor will house a selection of 600 pieces belonging to the permanent collection; finally, a restaurant will crown the top of the building.” In October, the Miami Herald reported that the museum is being funded by local art collector Gary Nader, and that it will heavily draw from his own collection. Right, kind of like George Lucas and his contested museum of narrative art in Chicago. Nader will reportedly build a residential tower on the same piece of property in Downtown Miami to help pay for the museum, which is expected to open in 2016.
The Miami Beach Design Review Board has unanimously approved the scaled-back renovation of the city’s convention center. The $500 million project is being led by Fentress Architects with Arquitectonica covering the structure’s facade, and West 8 overseeing landscape design. As AN wrote last month, despite the center's rippling aluminum exterior, the overall plan doesn't quite pack the punch of the more dramatic (and more expensive) one drawn up by Rem Koolhaas. That plan came out of the epic head-to-head matchup between Koolhaas and his former student, Bjarke Ingels. Koolhaas ultimately won, but the design was scrapped, so here we are. With the new plan set to move forward, we are getting a better sense of the development, especially of West 8's contribution: 12 acres of open space. In a statement, the firm explained that "the Convention Center’s existing 5.8 acre truck staging and parking lot is transformed into a new world-class public park with a plant palette that showcases the unique flora and botany of Miami Beach, and provides flexible lawn areas.” The plan also includes the Park Pavilion which has indoor/outdoor dining areas set underneath tall “concrete umbrellas.” The pavilion connects to a 3.5-acre park and a veteran's memorial that's also incorporated onto the site. Other components of the open space include a butterfly garden, ballroom terrace, and “bike-friendly pathway. The convention center is expected to break ground in December 2015 and open two years later. The park is slated to be ready in 2018. [h/t Curbed Miami]
Design Miami/, the annual global design forum, has announced that Minneapolis-based designer Jonathan Muecke has been selected to design its pavilion for next month's show. For the coveted commission, Muecke created a cylindrical space accessible through two entrance points. The structure is finished in primary colors: red and green on the inside and blue and yellow on the outside. Within the circle is “seamlessly shaped seating” designed to “allow visitors a moment of quiet reflection.” While the design may seem fairly simple, Design Miami/ thinks the space will really come alive when the Florida sun comes through its translucent tarp, creating a "shifting topography of reflected color.” According to Design Miami/, Muecke’s practice “resists standard divisions between design, art and architecture, instead focusing on refined forms that investigate notions of positive and negative space, positional relationships to structures and the innate desire to read notions of functionality into objects that relate to human scale.” The young designer studied architecture at Iowa State, design at Cranbrook Academy of Art, and interned for Herzog & de Meuron in Basel, Switzerland. Design Miami/, which occurs alongside Art Basel, celebrates its 10th anniversary from December 3–7th. [h/t DawnTown]
Remember that exciting design competition between Bjarke Ingels and Rem Koolhaas to revamp the Miami Beach Convention Center? Remember those two bold plans, all of those exciting renderings, and the official announcement that Koolhaas had won the commission? And then remember when the Miami Beach mayor said no to the whole thing and Arquitectonica was tapped for a less-expensive renovation? Well, now there's a new milestone in the convention center soap opera. That last part played out this summer and, a few months later, we know what the more fiscally-conservative plan will look like. Frankly, it looks more fiscally conservative. Curbed Miami, which is no fan of the new design, reported that Arquitectonica is doing the exteriors, Denver-based Fentress Architects is covering the interiors, and West 8 is overseeing landscape design. Overall, Curbed calls the new plan "more evolution than revolution." The most striking aspect of the $500 million design is the rippling aluminum facade that is made of fins and louvers and is attached onto the existing structure. The site also includes a cafe, a lawn, a nearly two-acre park along the Collins Canal, and a Veterans Memorial. Inside the convention center, Fentress is renovating the 500,000-square-foot exhibit hall and the 200,000 square feet of meeting space, and creating a new 80,000-square-foot ballroom. The Miami Herald reported that a design-build firm will be selected by the city in November, and that if everything moves forward, groundbreaking could happen after Art Basel next year with the center opening in 2017.
By now, you probably know about Citi Bike's woes in New York City: the damaged equipment, the broken seats, and—what else?—oh, right the money problems. But with a bailout reportedly imminent, and expansion likely next year, things are starting to looking up for the bike share system. And that's not all—the blue bikes aren't just expanding around New York, they're headed down to the palm tree-lined streets of Miami as well. No, it's not part of one giant, contiguous Citi Bike system, so you can stop planning that East Coast bike ride right now. Instead, as Miami's NewTimes reported, Miami Beach's bike-share system dubbed "DecoBike" is expanding into the city of Miami next month and will be rebranded as Citi Bike. The new Miami system will have 750 bikes and be run by DecoBike. [h/t Curbed Miami]
A straight-forward, standard-issue park just won't do for the uber-trendy, graffiti-covered streets of Miami's Wynwood Arts District. Instead of merely carving up green space within the artsy district, Tony Cho, a local real estate broker and developer, launched an international design competition to turn a parking lot into a public space worthy of its distinguished neighborhood. The Miami Herald reported that 238 submissions from 23 countries were received for Cho's competition, and, lo and behold, the only entry from Miami came out on top. After all entries were reviewed, the blind jury selected a proposal by local artist Jim Drain, and Roberto Rovira and Nick Gelpi, both professors of architecture at Florida International University. The Miami-based team beat out the competition with "Wynwood Greenhouse," a plan that is obviously a lot more than a standard-issue greenhouse. Underneath a familiar glass canopy, which is actually made of aluminum, the designers have created a multi-functional park with native grasses, flowers, green walls, a paved pathway, and moveable seating. At the center of the scheme is an old oak tree that is currently on the site and will appear to break through the aluminum structure that will rise around it. When complete, the 14,000-square-foot, privately-run public space will be able to accommodate farmers markets, fashions shows, and art installations. And at night, the "greenhouse" will glow with LEDs. If Cho can raise $1 million for the park, as he expects he can, it should open next year.