The district in which the infill project takes place is a unique, 18 block community located just north of downtown Miami. This neighborhood, long forgotten during the periods when suburban sprawl became the standard pattern of growth in the city, is now experiencing a dramatic urban renewal. The Renaissance of the district can be largely attributed to an enlightened developer and his dedication to creating a vibrant neighborhood for the city’s design industry. His vision has included the commission of a masterplan, the development of a streetscape proposal, as well as the inclusion of public art projects. While the district has already attracted leading retailers it has yet to contain the elements necessary to create a vibrant neighborhood. Currently, the district is absent of public spaces which can serve to a sense of identity and a place of congregation for the community.
The desire for the infill project was to define a true center for the district by creating the first public space in the neighborhood. The project transformed an existing parking lot with an existing stand of mature white oaks, into a paved plaza lined by a thin retail building and an adjacent loggia. The walls of the buildings are clad in an undulating pattern of green and blue glass mosaic tiles that transform the ordinary masonry surfaces into a vibrant urban mural.
Beyond the new plaza, the project creates a new street which allows pedestrians to bisect the length of the existing block. The street provides an unprecedented moment for collaboration. At the onset of the project, the developer hired two independent firms to design new retail buildings on either side of the street. Rather than working in isolation the offices chose to establish a dialogue in the belief that structuring similarities within the urban realm would create a more memorable street section in striking contrast to the immediate environment which often lacks urban continuity. (KVA Building designed by Khoury & Vogt Architects and the Twery Building designed by CURE & PENABAD Architecture and Urban Design)
Thus each of the buildings develop similar architectural elements which include:
- a repetitive bay system that organizes the covered colonnades at street level as well as the fenestration of the second floor
- -open loggias on the upper storey of the primary façade
- -a similar palette of materials including smooth white stucooed surfaces for the primary building elements and cement tiles in rich complementary hues for architectural details such as column capitals and inset panels
- A coherent lighting and streetscape design to enhance the visual unity of the street
While relatively small in scale, the project offers lessons for the future building of a young city. In a place often defined by disrespectful, non-descript structures that seldom strive to create memorable street or public space, the project offers a distinct and coherent urban architecture illustrating our fundamental belief that architecture is first and foremost a civic art.
Location: Miami, FL, US