Currently viewing the category: "Urban Design"

MiamiDesignCharrette_FinalwSponsors (1)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.38.42 AMMinimum parking requirements are killing good urban development in Miami. Luckily, there has been a push to eliminate parking requirements for small urban buildings (<10,000 sq ft) in recent months.  This is a good first step in the right direction if Miami really aspires to become a walkable and less autocentric city.

Minimum parking requirements perpetuate more automobile use and it also makes housing less affordable since the cost of building and maintaining required parking is passed on to renters and buyers. Two weeks ago Zillow released ahousing report  that cited Miami as the 2nd most expensive city for renters.  The average Miami resident spends 43.2% of their income on rent.\

Combine expensive housing with lack of public transit and minimum parking requirements that only serve to perpetuate the use of the automobile; its no wonder why Miami is one of the most expensive car dominated cities in the US.

Eliminating parking requirements would do the following things:

1) Allows small developers to choose how many parking spaces are needed based on what fits and what buyers or tenants want.
2) Replaces parking with denser development that generates more property and sales tax for the county and city.
3) Allows small property owners to keep their property and develop themselves.
4) Levels the playing field for small Miami property owners.
5) Allows for the creation of more walkable and denser urban neighborhoods.

Below are the details for the reduced parking requirements that are being sought for small urban buildings.  This is currently being advocated for at the commission level, so stay tuned for the resolution.

The proposed text for T4, T5, and T6 is underlined below.  The non-underlined text already exists in Miami 21, a TOD/transit corridor parking reduction that does not apply within 500 ft of single-family/duplex areas (T3).  The proposed text does not change that, it does not apply within 500 feet of T3.  Below is a map of where the proposed text would apply: orange areas around rail stations, purple areas along transit corridors, but not yellow areas within 500 ft of T3.  

“Parking ratio may be reduced within 1/2 mile radius of TOD or within 1/4 mile radius of a Transit Corridor by thirty percent (30%) by process of Waiver, or by one hundred percent (100%) for any Structure that has a Floor Area of ten thousand (10,000) square feet or less, except when site is within 500 feet of T3.”.

Let’s hope City of Miami Commissioners can come to their senses and eliminate parking requirements entirely, not just for small urban buildings.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 3.46.20 PM

 

Dead End

 

MFN0018-SeminarsEblast-Rev4 - Approved

 

Please join the Knight Foundation at the O Cinema in Wynwood on Tuesday March 25 for a free screening of the film “The Human Scale” by Jan Gehl (77 minutes, English, 2012) followed by panel discussion.

Fifty percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this will increase to 80 percent. Life in a mega city is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face climate change, loneliness and severe health issues due to our way of life. But why? The Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities for 40 years. He has documented how modern cities repel human interaction and argues that we can build cities in a way that takes into account human needs for inclusion and intimacy.

Knight Foundation continues to lead efforts to build Miami’s art and cultural life, as well as its emerging community of entrepreneurs, startups and makers. Both thrive in urban environments that are well planned and built to a human-scale. The insights and lessons in this film will be enormously important and helpful in thinking about the path ahead for our rapidly evolving city.

6 pm - doors open
6:30 pm - screening followed by discussion
Learn more about the film at thehumanscale.dk/the-film/.

It’s free when you RSVP using this Eventbrite link.

 

 

Weird

Sunday, November 10th
11am- 3pm 
Please arrive no later than 10:45am
Tickets are $25 each
Click HERE for tickets


PickUp/DropOff:
BFI #BuildingsForInfill
100 Northeast 11th Street
Miami, FL 33132
DIRECTIONS

BFI invites you to its periodical WEIRD MIAMI bus tour, on Sunday, November 10th from 11 AM to 2 PM.  This WEIRD MIAMI installment will visit exemplary (but often overlooked) Miami urban neighborhoods, led by urbanists Jason Chandler and Andrew Frey.

BFI invites you to its periodical WEIRD MIAMI bus tour, on Sunday, November 10th from 11 AM to 2 PM.  This WEIRD MIAMI installment will visit exemplary (but often overlooked) Miami urban neighborhoods, led by urbanists Jason Chandler and Andrew Frey.

The tour complements URBAN_VARIANTS, an exhibit at BFI of new designs for Miami urban buildings, which runs from November 1st to November 24th. The exhibit includes new prototype sketches, drawings, renderings, and models, as well as studies of existing prototypes in Miami and Savannah.  The exhibit is the result of a studio course at FIU Architecture led by professor Jason Chandler in collaboration with Townhouse Center, a not-for profit that promotes urban neighborhood development, and sponsored by the Knight Foundation.

This past semester, students visited and documented existing small buildings in downtown Miami and Savannah, Georgia. During the visits, students experienced how small-scale infill buildings create resilient urban environments. The Savannah visit took students far out of the studio, to places and buildings most had never seen before. Then each student designed a new, small, adaptable prototype for Miami, resulting in over 100 designs, which have been curated for the BFI exhibit

The course, exhibit, and bus tour are all part of a larger collaboration to raise awareness of the fact that Miami has built to the sky and horizon — towers and subdivisions — but lacks neighborhoods of a middle scale. In other cities such urban neighborhoods are often the most vibrant, like Boston’s North End or New York’s West Village. To help Miami start developing these neighborhoods, FIU Architecture offered a studio course about the urban neighborhood fundamental building block: small, adaptable buildings.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.36.24 AM

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.36.34 AM

 

TEDxCity2.0 Viewing + Discussion + Happy Hour will occur from 6pm – 8pm on Friday Sept 20th. Hosted at Elwoods Gastro Pub, this event will broadcast three (3) TEDxCity2.0 talks. Each talk will be followed by a short discussion session based on how the information presented relates to Miami.

Join us in thought sharing, discussing and visioning a better Miami. This event is free.

About TEDxCity2.0:
TEDxCity2.0 is a day-long initiative that gathers TEDx communities from around the world to host events highlighting local urban innovators, organizers, stewards and builders. Speakers at these events will focus on City 2.0 themes including Art, Education, Food, Health, Housing, Play, Public Space and Safety.

Coinciding with TEDCity2.0 — a TED-hosted event that will focus on how bright urban ideas turn into collective impact — TEDxCity2.0 gathers TEDx communities across the globe to envision the cities of our future and share big ideas about sustainable solutions and collaborative action.

TED-Flyer

 
Cartoon designed by Juan Navarro www.FWACATA.com

Cartoon designed by Juan Navarro www.FWACATA.com

The very naughty Cone Fairy has done it again. Last night she mischievously placed 7 orange traffic cones down the center of NE 76 Street in an attempt to calm traffic to protect children, parents with strollers, cyclists and pets from speeding drivers.

For the past 5 months my neighbors and I have been trying to get the city and county to do something about the reckless drivers that come barreling down our street everyday. Unfortunately, true to form, neither the county nor city has acknowledged that the fundamental problem with this road, as with the majority of our streets in South Florida, is the actual design of our roads that encourages speeding. It shouldn’t take five months to find a solution to this problem; this isn’t rocket science, it just requires a little common sense.

Operation Belle Meade Storm: To liberate Belle Meade residents from the oppression of speeding cars

Operation Belle Meade Storm: To liberate Belle Meade residents from the oppression of speeding cars

Last I heard, the only thing the county is willing to do  is add a crosswalk and erect one of these signs on 76th Street.

A crosswalk and this sign is the best the County can do calm traffic.

A crosswalk and this sign is the best the County can do calm traffic.

This silly sign won’t do anything to calm traffic. If this is the only solution the county can come up with, I have a feeling we may see a whole lot more of the very sassy and sexy Cone Fairy. It’s worth mentioning that all of Transit Miami’s recommendations to calm traffic on this street have been rebuffed by the county. In the meantime, cars continue to speed down my street and it’s just a matter of time before someone is struck by a speeding car.

impact-of-speed2

By the way- we don’t know the true identity of the Cone Fairy and we cannot condone this type of behavior. So remember…

urbanism

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 8.09.32 AM

 

RSVP by July 30 at miamifoundation.org/ourmiamirsvp.
 
Visit our  Facebook event page to invite your friends 
and join the conversation.
 

 

We often hear that Miami is becoming a world-class city, but the sad truth is that Magic City is quickly becoming the country’s first gated city. What’s even worse is our elected officials are championing and using public funds to build walls and fences along the public right-of way, reducing mobility options for the general public and dividing communities in a futile attempt to reduce crime.  This type of reactive urban planning is being used by elected officials to appease their constituents, but the truth is there is no evidence that gated communities are any safer than non-gated communities.

Meanwhile, Miami has one of lowest police–to-residents ratios of any major city in the United States.  I’ve lost count, but we’ve had at least 2 or 3 police chiefs in the last four years.  The city has failed to provide enough officers to patrol the streets of Miami and now the city is scrambling to add 33 officers to the police force this year.

A few years ago, the city coughed up about $1,700,000 to build a wall for the Coral Gate community.  Here are the pictures of our elected officials celebrating their ugly tax-payer funded wall.  What’s even worse is that these pictures are posted on the city of Miami’s website as if this is something to be proud of; it’s not. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment. A world-class city should not support gated communities, much less pay for them.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of. Especially when the city foots the bill.

About 6 months ago Commissioner Sarnoff ponied up another $50,000 for Belle Meade to build a fence. See for yourselves how ridiculous and infective this fence is:

Now Morningside residents are considering a fence around the perimeter of their neighborhood as well. No word yet if the city will pay for Morningside’s fence too.

No elected official should be proud of this piecemeal ineffective urban planning strategy.  Quite the contrary, the city should not even allow walls or fences to be built.  I’m not sure why the city’s Planning Department allows this to happen.

Tagged with:
 

Here we go again with these ridiculous fences. I just received an email informing me that tomorrow night (April 2nd) @ 7pm the Morningside Civic Association will hold a meeting to discuss perimeter fencing around Morningside. The meeting is open to all and will start at 7:00pm at the offices of Morningside Park (NE 55th Terrace, east of the tennis courts).

Some of you may recall that several months ago, the City of Miami bankrolled $50,000 of public funds on a fence for Belle Meade. I really hope the city isn’t coughing up the money to build a fence for Morningside too. The Belle Meade fence was a complete embarrassment and a waste of money. Even if Morningside residents decide to finance the fence on their own dime, the County and City should not allow fences to be built, much less support this type of silly urban planning that won’t reduce crime.

I think our video about the Belle Meade fence says it all. Hopefully, most of the residents of Morningside understand that fencing will not deter crime.

 

Tagged with:
 

Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?

Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:

“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”

So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.

I-395_Miami_Bridge4

I-395_Miami_Bridge3

I-395_Miami_Bridge2

I-395_Miami_Bridge

For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.

Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown. 

In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.

The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.

Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:

  • San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
  • Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct

While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.

Tagged with:
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New crosswalks on NW 2nd Avenue and 25th in Wynwood.

 

Everyone seems to be talking about the new crosswalks in Wynwood which Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez just designed at the intersection of NW 2nd Avenue and 25th Street. These crosswalks are all the rage these days. They are the first of 15 crosswalks that will be painted through out Wynwood by Carlos.

Don’t get me wrong, the crosswalks look great and I fully support Carlos’s initiative, but these new crosswalks will do very little, if anything, to make the streets of Wywood any safer for pedestrians.

About a year ago, I wrote an article for Miami Urbanist about the lack of crosswalks on NW 2nd Avenue in Wynwood:

The County Public Works Department just completed a resurfacing project on NW 2nd Avenue from NW 20th Street to NW 36th Street. Sadly pedestrians only have 4 intersections where they can safely cross NW 2ndAvenue for these 16 blocks. The crosswalks are located at NW 20th Street, NW 29th Street, NW 31st Street and NW 36th Street.”

A couple of months ago I wrote a follow-up post to my first article about NW 2nd Avenue for Transit Miami. In the past year County Public Works and Waste Management Department has added 4 crosswalks at the intersection of NW 2nd Ave and 25th Street.  They have also added sharrows to this street. Sharrows have now officially become the County’s default bicycle treatment so that they can claim they are doing something for cyclists, even if it means encouraging cyclists to ride on dangerous roads with design speeds in excess of 35 mph. So, basically the County has done next to nothing in the past year except drag their feet.

Please send an email to Mayor Gimenez and County Public Works and Waste Management Department Director Kathleen Woods-Richardson by clicking here.  Ask them what their excuse is for not putting crosswalks at every intersection along NW 2nd Avenue.

In addition to installing more crosswalks, the county should also consider raised crosswalks as well as narrowing the travel lanes to calm traffic. Currently NW 2nd Avenue is designed to encourage speeding. There are little, if any, redeeming qualities about this road.  The County should prioritize pedestrian safety over moving vehicles as quickly as possible on NW 2nd Avenue. The whole situation is just awful and quite embarrassing just like this video. The County is still living in the 1970’s…

 

Seven50-Summit-2-Agenda-1-20-13

 

As reported earlier this month by our friends over at Curbed Miami, the long-anticipated, long-stalled Brickell Flatiron Park has finally materialized.

Curbed Miami has extensive coverage of the park, with multiple images provided by Transit Miami’s own Craig Chester.

Here are a few more shots of the newly materialized public space. This section of Brickell now has a nice little wedge of accessible park space from which to peacefully gaze and reflect upon the dynamic urban morphology surrounding it.

Cyclist on the bike lane, downtown explorers on the Metromover, Cars2Go waiting for savvy intra-city travelers . . . and a new, sweet park waiting to be fully discovered and enjoyed by Brickellites and other downtown denizens.

The weekly farmers’ market should help draw attention to this much needed downtown park oasis.

All this street signage for active transportation (walking, biking) is great, but municipal workers need better guidelines on where to install the signs. It’s a bit contradictory to have a ‘pedestrian’ sign obstructing part of the sidewalk, and a ‘bike lane’ sign obstructing the other part of the sidewalk, requiring walkers to zig-zag along their path.  All street signs and street furniture should be as far out of the pedestrian thoroughfare as possible. Hopefully that ‘men at work / construction’ sign won’t be up for too long either.

Some new trees to help revive our sparse and frail urban forest canopy, along with plenty of limestone benches on which to sit back and take-in the city — it’s getting better everyday.

With the incipient rise of Brickell CitiCenter just to the north of Mary Brickell Village, this northwest section of the Brickell neighborhood is truly becoming the new hallmark of Miami urbanism.

Now all that’s left is making sure Brickellite yuppies — for so long bereft of such an open public space to call their own — know what to do with their new neighborhood amenity.

Transit Miami’s advice: just sit back and enjoy the growing spectacle your city has to offer.

Tagged with:
 
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.