New World Symphony
The pumped up Hip Hop that accompanies the Ferraris or SUVs cruising up and down Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, has been joined by some more melodious sounds.
In a brand new building designed by Pritzker prize winning architect Frank Gehry - the New World Symphony is home to some of the top young classical musicians in the country. All of the members of the NWS's symphony orchestra are non-professional students aged between 20-30 years old, who have been selected for their talent from a series of country-wide 'American Idol' style auditions
The NWS's mission is to break down the barriers between the traditionally stuffy world of classical music and the public. And it seems to be working to incredible effect. Since it began its Saturday evening 'wallcasts', where the live performance in the auditorium is projected on the side of the building, the crowds that come to watch have been growing steadily. They now number an average of 2,000 people -- filling the adjacent West 8 designed park with picnic blankets and hampers.
1111 Lincoln Road
Miami's best building, Herzog and de Meuron's car parking garage provides an emphatic full stop at the west end of Lincoln Road mall. Developer Robert Wennett, the financial and conceptual force behind the project, moved to Miami from New York because he felt he sensed a 'cultural shift in the city, away from the suburban model'.
Cars have never been so magnificently accommodated with lofty, cathedral-like spaces soaring above them. In fact this building should be thought of less in terms of cars and more as a vertical continuation of Lincoln Road mall's public space. The great lesson to be learnt here is that with Miami's fantastic climate -- all you really need is some generous and well designed covered outdoor space and a multitude of activities can be accommodated all year round. 1111 has played host to numerous private parties and even weddings
Photo copyright Nelson Garrido
Adding to the claim that 1111 Lincoln Road is something way beyond a mere parking garage is Alchemist -- a top of the line clothes and shoes boutique, located on the 5th floor of the building. Designed by Miami architect Rene Gonzalez, Alchemist is an ethereal counterpoint to the garage's exposed concrete, lined with mirrors, which catches the sky and the street below. The project was a 2011 Recipient of American Insitute of Architects Honor Awards for Interior Architecture
Photography: Michael Staviridis
Lincoln Road mall
Recently added to by the 1111 garage to the west and the New World Center to the east, Lincoln Road mall is a fantastic example of a modern public space in its own right.
Conceived in the early 1960s by Miami's original star-chitect Morris Lapidus (designer of the nearby Fontainbleau hotel, among many other local projects), the mall sought to regenerate Lincoln Road's flagging commercial fortunes through closing it to traffic - as Lapidus said at the time 'a car never bought anything'.
The end result is a highly civilised, pedestrian shopping area, lined with trees and punctuated by Lapidus designed structures -- a dramatic cantilevering canopy used for performances, fountains, trellises for shading. Completed by its recent addition at its east and west ends, Lincoln Road mall is now firmly re-established as the heart of South Beach - hugely popular at all times of the day and night with people shopping eating and people watching
Raymond Jungles – Lincoln Road mall
The go-to landscape designer of choice in Miami at the moment, Raymond Jungles' work is everywhere – from the roof garden and environs of the New World Center to Allan Shulman’s Soho Beach House. Here, simultaneous with the construction of the 1111 parking garage, Jungles has brought his magic to the end of Lincoln road – effectively extending and completing the mall begun by Morris Lapidus in the 1960s.
The result is a literal and thematic extension of Lincoln Road and a completely seamless join with the pre-existing mall. Jungles has extended the black and white striped motif, but changed the material from a painted tarmac found further up to a more durable stone mosaic. A mix of native Florida trees including some semi-deciduous offers seasonal variety and integrated naturalistic water features complete the impression of an ‘urban glade’.
Photography Steven Brooke
ArtCenter / Jacob Brillhart
The ArtCenter on Lincoln Road brings Miami’s teeming artistic culture right in to the heart of Miami’s tourist and commercial domain. Fully accessible to the passing shoppers, the ArtCenter is a menagerie of open studio spaces, used by working artists to create, display and sell their work. The Center also houses a small gallery with an incredibly well placed shopfront window, adding artistic culture to the mall’s already rich mix.
‘The Architecture of Drawing’ is a recently completed joint exhibition at the ArtCenter by young Miami architect and academic Jacob Brillhart and New Orleans based architect Errol Barron. Featuring some beautiful hand drawings and paintings, the show advocated a reintroduction of architectural exploration through sketching and many examples of which were on display in the exhibition. Building on the success of the exhibition, Brillhart is currently working on a new book which will follow Le Corbusier’s personal sketching tours around Europe and Japan
Photography: Jacob Brilhart
In a town whose entire raison d'etre seems based on sexual frisson and checking each other out, perhaps the spiritual heart of Miami is the beach itself. Incredibly generous in scale -- surprisingly wide and extending the entire length of the Miami Beach peninsular, the beach might be said to be the foremost public space of Miami, which more recent additions -- New World Center Park, South Pointe Park, Lincoln Road mall - support and build on. As well as providing sun, sea and sand, the beach also plays host to many of the festivals and events that roll in to town each week -- Food and Drink, Winter Music, Art Basel, with huge purpose built tents which are erected on the sand.
South Beach's easterly streets such as Ocean Drive are replete with semi naked people having just come from the beach - adding to the unique character of the city. Meanwhile above the beach, small aeroplanes trawl back and forth towing abbreviated advertising like physical Twitter feeds
South Pointe Park
The South end of Miami Beach’s peninsular, south of 5th street, was until the 1990s a no-go area seemingly immune to the regeneration that was taking place in Miami’s historic districts further north. Following a relaxation of the zoning laws in the area, a swathe of enormous new condominiums sprang up in the early 1990s which now form the backdrop to the recently completed South Pointe Park. This is another fantastic example of Miami’s contemporary public space, much loved by local people walking their dogs, cycling and jogging along the promenade by the waters edge.
Photography Saskia Green
Adding arthouse cinema to the range of cultural offerings, Miami Beach's new Cinematheque, like the New World Center, is a fantastic example of a private passion pushing through the creation of a project. The brainchild, heart and soul of local film enthusiast Dana Keith, the MBC builds on the success of the smaller original Cinematheque which was located round the corner in Espanola Way.
Occupying a space designed by Carl Fisher one of Miami's original property developers, but which more recently housed the city parking department offices, the new MBC has large floor to ceiling windows on three sides. Architect for the project Scott Weinkel, working with interior designer Jeffrey Barone, has ingeniously retained the existing glazing through the construction of a room within a room. The gradual drawing of the curtains at the beginning of a film forms an appropriately theatrical part of this delightful arts cinema experience
Photography Mike Butler
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In the tourist shop windows of Miami Beach rows and rows of brightly coloured T-shirts proclaim 'I'm in Miami Bitch'. A crude pun perhaps, but the sentiment is clear -- Miami rules.
Miami is a city that has always inspired pride and envy for its core offers of escapism, partying, sunshine and sex, but until recently the quality of its urban and cultural environment lagged some way behind. A highly suburban car-based city, Miami's centres had been dominated by sprawling surface car parking lots and with some exceptions Miami's contemporary architecture was nothing to write home about.
But now the city's credentials have been bolstered by a roster of fine new buildings, some fantastic public space and an array of cultural facilities with more in the pipeline. Given the quality and coherence of these elements, it does not seem overstated to describe what is happening as an 'urban renaissance'.
Examples are all around. The recently completed car-parking garage/ vertical piazza by Herzog and de Meuron and the New World Symphony concert hall by Frank Gehry effectively book-end and reinforce Lincoln Road mall, creating a fantastic modern space for shopping and people watching.
Adding to the cultural mix is a small but perfectly formed new arthouse cinema, the Miami Beach Cinematheque, which has just opened in a prominent new position. Up the road the recent South Pointe Park has created some great quality recreational space in what was once a no-go zone. And the cherry on SoBe's cake is 'Deco bike' a Velib-style bike share scheme that turns the area into a more amenable, pedestrian-friendly space.
Simultaneously over the Bay from South Beach, the previously rundown Wynwood is being reborn as a district of private art museums. The unspectacular urban fabric consisting of block upon block of low-rise warehouses and workshops is being revitalised through enormous works of street art. Wynwood extends the regeneration begun in the adjacent Design District at the start of the millennium and is also the spiritual home for Art Basel Miami, which rolls into town each December trailing gallerists, artists, assorted global media and hangers-on.
And there is more to come. Herzog de Meuron's second major building in the city, the Miami Art Museum (MAM) has just broken ground and is set to open in 2013. This will be joined the following year by the Grimshaw Architects-designed Science Museum, ultimately forming Museum Park, a cultural hub for the city in landscaped gardens by the water.
In the context of a worldwide economic recession, with the US economy in debt to the tune of $14 trillion and rising $1 million a minute, one might expect Miami's architects to be in a downbeat mood. Quite the opposite. All of them seem incredibly optimistic about the future of their city. The feeling is that at just over 100 years old the city has only just got into its swing. Miami, at the crossroads of North and South America and the Caribbean and a playground for all, seems set to become one of the great cities of the 21st Century.