University of Miami

University of Miami

Miami, FL


Miami Design District Gets Smart

By AnnetteGallagher
Oct 16, '15 9:23 AM EST
Screenshot of an animation showing a heat map of the Miami Design District
Screenshot of an animation showing a heat map of the Miami Design District

UM School of Architecture Studio Course Led by Vicente Guallart and Li Yi Plans to Reinvent American Districts Using Smart Technologies

University of Miami School of Architecture (UMSoA) students, led by visiting professor and Barcelona’s former chief architect Vicente Guallartand UMSoA lecturer Li Yi, are using the Miami Design District as a prototype to define how the cities of the future will work. Barcelona was recently named the “Smartest City in the World,” and the course will develop new principles, projects and applications for urban regeneration using such technologies as the Internet of Things.

Guallart explained that “Miami and Florida will be one of the first areas affected for the global warming and the change of sea level, so the University of Miami should lead initiatives to reinvent American districts that will become the globally connected and locally self-sufficient, and share their research with American and Latin-American cities.”

“The class of 12 students is broken into six teams. Each team addresses one specific topic, and will create an animation of the data gathered related to that theme,” Yi explained. “The results of the animation will be analyzed, and design-based smart solutions oriented to propose new buildings, structures and behaviors in the Design District.”

On Monday, October 19 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the six teams will present their animations and data findings and their initial proposals to a jury of UMSoA faculty and special guests, including real estate developer Craig Robins, CEO and President of Dacra, which transformed the Miami Design District into an important center for food, fashion and art, and Terrence Riley, former architecture curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The six topics being studied by the class are energy consumption via a heat map and proposing how to make all the energy needed in the district locally using renewable energies; urban agriculture with the proposal of roof top gardens and new buildings that produce food; urban re-industrialization by proposing digital fabrication factories that produce, recycle and sell things; social interaction using geotagged social media posts to determine where the greatest activity takes place; environment and shadow, using time lapses of the sun moving over the district; and mobility, which will consider everything from pedestrian traffic to bike lanes, car sharing service usage and general vehicle traffic. Each set of data will be turned into an animation, which will be projected onto a four foot by eight foot Computer Numerical Control (CNC)-fabricated model of the Design District and will serve as base for the teams’ proposals for solutions to the problems they identify.

Luiza Leite is a third-year Master of Architecture student. She signed up for the course because last semester she focused on informal cities and thought smart cities would be an interesting new direction. “Having a visiting professor is incredible!” Leite said. “Vicente is so well-known in this field, but I had no idea many of these things were going on. This studio has really opened my eyes to a career field I knew nothing about.”

Fifth-year undergrad student Rossana Auad and fourth-year undergrad Maura Gergerich are the team assigned to look at the environment and landscape in the District. “It’s so hot outside,” Gergerich said, “and that keeps people from walking around, so we’re looking into ways to add shade.”

Auad added, “We have to fix the heat and humidity!”