Archive for the 'Construction' Category

Gehry Designed NWS Concert Hall Begins Construction Today

At approximately 8:35 tonight ground will officially break initiating the construction of the New World Symphony’s new concert hall on Miami Beach designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

The 107,000-square-foot ”campus” is Gehry’s first Florida building. And though its simple, rectilinear design doesn’t offer the daring of the titanium-roofed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, or the audacious sail-like curves of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the yet-to-be-named facility will solve logistical problems faced by the New World Symphony in its two decades on Lincoln Road.

The Lincoln Theatre ”has acoustical deficiencies and technological limitations,” said Howard Herring, New World president and CEO. The new building, he said, will allow significant expansion and outreach “in how we train our fellows and how we bring music to the public.”

To be completed in 2010, the new building will house a 700-seat, state-of-the-art performance space with capacity for recording and webcasts and 360-degree projections. There will be a rooftop music library and conductor’s studio, 26 individual rehearsal rooms and six ensemble rehearsal rooms. Expanded Internet2 technology will allow greater international partnership and interaction with musicians, composers and learning institutions around the world. Of the $200 million cost, $150 million will pay for construction. The rest will go to the orchestra’s endowment. Its interest will cover the increased cost of operating the facility and expanding programs, Herring said.

Images Via: PlaybillArts

Urban Design Malpractice: Marina Blue

Marina Blue, the “swanky,” 60 story residential skyscraper rising along Biscayne Boulevard across the future site of Museum Park has issues, major issues. The 600+ foot tower, designed by world renowned Arquitectonica is just one of the latest blunders to rise in our city. Now please don’t be confused, but we’re not arguing about its height, size, or density but rather how this building was designed to interact with our urban streetscape. It’s because of the inadequacies of its design that many Miami activists confuse height and density as the real culprits behind much of our urban problems…

Take a look at these pictures, found on Skyscrapercity and see if you can spot any of the major issues:

Incomplete building? Designed well from 3 angles, the Marina Blue design team apparently fell asleep when working on the western facade. A blank, exposed backside will greet visitors viewing the Miami skyline from the west, a stark contrast from the stunning blue and green glass facade facing the Museums and bay. Another Arquitectonica and Hyperion development building, Blue, up in the design district suffers from the same 3 sided design syndrome…

Who needs public transit when we have enough space for every car? Logically, the best thing to place facing a metromover station is the entrance of the 12 story parking garage with enough space to handle at least the 2 cars each of the 516 units owners will have. Forget creating usable retail space fronting the metromover, the patron’s of this building will likely be arriving at the valet station anyway, it’s not like they have any other reasonable option anyway…

Of course, if we aren’t going to plan for the use of public transit then why would we expect pedestrians to access the building either? Beyond the absurd canopy placement, the 3 foot elevated platform will completely decimate any hopes of creating a vibrant and pedestrian friendly boulevard. The second picture shows just exactly how much width was provided for sidewalk cafes and activity, none of which will be possible thanks to the blank wall and guardrails which are placed accordingly to keep Marina Blue residents and visitors in.

A Couple of reminders of what we should have been attempting to do with the redevelopment along the Biscayne boulevard corridor:

Note: This picture is still prominently displayed on the DDA website…

I can’t help but think that for every step we take forward (dense urban living in an easily accessible location) we take two steps backwards (building enough parking to house a dealership and failing to adequately integrate the building with the surroundings…)

Mary Brickell Village; Under Construction til the Next Boom

I went to Rosa Mexicano the other day at Mary Brickell Village for dinner and was extremely disappointed to witness the state of the complex (very satisfied by the food, however.) This place is a disaster! The pictures below really don’t do it justice. I was more than appalled to see what should have been one of our premier pedestrian areas in such a state of disrepair. Besides the obvious vacancy, missing condominium tower, and abandoned Publix space, most of the western half of the complex has been ripped apart to fix some piping. The whole complex’s air conditioning was out of order and supplanted by temporary portable units.

Transitography 18

Seattle metro tunnel, originally uploaded by Adam Holloway.

The newly renovated Seattle Transit tunnel will reopen to the public next Monday. After a $94 Million renovation and retrofitting, the final phase of the tunnel will be complete in 2009 when the Sound Transit LRT begins to fully utilize the tunnel instead of the current buses. Due to the reconstruction, a revolutionary precedent was set along Seattle’s downtown third avenue:

“Meanwhile, Third Avenue, which became a bus-and-bike street at peak hours during the two-year tunnel closure, will remain that way. More than 20 downtown surface routes will be shifted to Third Avenue, replacing 18 bus routes that will enter the tunnel.”

MIC Construction

Say it ain’t so! The Miami Intermodal Center is slated to begin construction this month!?!? Something (history) tells me that I’ll believe it when I see it…The anticipated opening date is set for Spring 2010 and the estimated cost is $400 Million, we’ll keep tabs on both as well as HNTB’s progress

Miami, See it like Anything but a Native; Brickell and Riverwalk

I started my trip as usual at the UM metrorail station. The station severely needs a pedestrian overpass to connect it with the already disjointed surroundings. Notice, any attempt to connect the station with its eastern surroundings will at best connect pedestrians with any of the many available parking lots of the strip shopping centers.

I arrived at the Brickell station in full view of some “urban design malpractice,” to quote Ryan’s previous post on the subject. The following pictures were taken either from the Metrorail platform or from the train just as we entered the station (I’m disappointed that Beethoven’s 5th No longer plays when the train arrives, what gives?) The first picture depicts the new Infinity at Brickell high-rise with its’ hideous massive blank wall left exposed facing the west. The next two pictures are of buildings adjacent to the metrorail platform. Notice the wide entrance to the parking garage in the first building (Brickell Station Villas designed by Alberto Otero) on the west side fronting the station. The third picture below depicts another new condo with an absurdly huge parking structure below making up more than half the size of the building. These designs are sad and pathetic considering their proximity to mass transit. A parking garage entrance shouldn’t front the station and their designs should be required to consider pedestrian activity. I don’t blame the architects or developers; this is clearly a regulatory issue and the result of a commission who approves nearly anything which comes before them…

The last time I passed by the Brickell metrorail station (nearly 8 months ago) the brickell metromover escalator was out of service. I was dismayed to see that this was obviously still the case. Great job Bradley!

I got off the mover by Mary Brickell Village, the disastrously planned retail center in the heart of Brickell which has been under construction for a few years now. I was dismayed however to see that this station’s escalator was too out of commission (that’s 0/2 for all of you keeping score.) Great job Bradley!

Pictured below is the site of the Brickell Financial Centre, which as I mentioned earlier was slated to officially break ground on Thursday. Despite the continued demolition of the mid-rise previously located on the site, an area with project plans and descriptions was set up on the former back parking lot.

When I arrived at the 5th street station, just beside the new Brickell on the River Condominium, I looked down to find two separate paths leading from the Station to the river-walk. One was apparently the “commoners” path while the one on the right side of the wrought iron fence was for the residents of the condo. Fenced in or gated condominiums severely detract from their urban surroundings and should not be allowed to rise in such central and prominent locations of our city. These tend to isolate residents from the surroundings, complicating building access for pedestrians and disconnecting them from the closely located transit and public river-walk…

Looking back inland, the beautiful rear end of 500 Brickell kept staring at me, asking why the developer had left such a plain wall facing the metromover station. A short walk around the building later demonstrated that the front end had been properly designed, with balconies and plenty of glass, it’s a shame the back side couldn’t have been granted the same architectural considerations.

Although the whole downtown has been morphed into a full scale construction zone, I was surprised to see adequate consideration taken for the area sidewalks. Although I appeared to be the only person walking around, the construction worker turned crossing guard was kind enough to halt passing street activity for me to cross.

From the Brickell Avenue Bridge looking west I saw further signs of a very disjointed river-walk taking shape. The newly completed Brickell on the River was sectioned off from the neighboring Riverview Complex which is apparently the docking point for some Miami PD boats (this is probably done as a local measure of (in)security…)

The CBD as we knew it has finally witnessed the removal of the last surface parking eyesores as the Metropolitan Miami Complex rises. In the foreground we see piles being driven for the most important tower rising in the CBD since the Bank of America Tower was completed in the 80’s, MET 2. MET 2 is our newest office skyscraper which will feature 600,000 square feet of office space in one tower and Miami’s first Marriot Marquis in an adjacent tower. Most importantly, MET 2 will dwarf the abysmally lackluster height and design of MET 1 (Center, under construction,) with a glass facade and parabolic glass shape similar to the Esprito Santo Bank tower on Brickell.

Pedestrian activity already disturbed along the river area due to the EPIC and MET construction is permanently obstructed by the pilings of the metromover.

One Miami can essentially be credited with being the project which started the latest vertical boom in Downtown Miami. Constructed by the Related Group of Florida and designed by local architect Arquitectonica (like most Related Group projects,) these twin 45 and 44 story towers were the first to test the downtown residential condo market in several decades. The real estate revival launched by this development since has been phenomenal. I was highly unimpressed by the entrance to the towers which obviously caters to vehicular movements while pedestrian access is relegated to a thin walkway alongside the tower entrance.

One Miami’s contribution to the public river-walk however, was highly impressive and one of the high points of my walk. The area was beautiful, providing ample seating along the tranquil north shore of the Miami River and overlooking Brickell Key. The One Miami river-walk contained various works of art, including a sculpture by Jose Bedia among others. Big Brother was noticeably present as was adequate lighting and access for One Miami residents. Hopefully Epic and the other buildings rising along the river will continue the precedent already established by One Miami.

Part one of my tour concludes with a view of the unfinished One Miami River-Walk leading into Bayfront Park. The dock on the right is the proposed station for any future ferry commuter boats traveling between the CBD and Aventura/South Dade. Part two of my walk will continue through Bayfront Park as I tackle the changes currently transforming what should be our most prominent urban park…

Port of Miami Container Crisis, Part 1

Before last Wednesday’s article in the Miami today, I was working on an article discussing the woes of the port of Miami container movement situation, which we’ll get to later. As many of you may know, a tunnel is in the works to connect the Port of Miami with I-395 via Watson Island, spanning the length of a mile beneath the Port’s main channel. The POM tunnel is a $1.2 Billion joint development project involving the FDOT, POM, MDX, Miami-Dade County and city of Miami. The project, in the works since the early 80’s, aims to remove some of the downtown congestion by directly connecting the port with the highway, no longer making it necessary for trucks and buses to traverse downtown streets. The idea isn’t half bad, considering the necessity which has evolved out of the downtown construction boom; however, I feel that we once again failed to properly evaluate all of our options, especially considering that it has been in the “works” for the better part of the past two, almost three decades. Take a few minutes and analyze the image below, found on the POM Tunnel project website and is presumably the same image our planners have been staring at for the past few years. There’s a striking port access option which, I fear, has been gravely overlooked:

Any guesses? I’ll be back with the second part of this article later today; the answer is certainly far simpler than the convoluted light barges up the Miami River option

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South Terminal

This is a recent photo taken by Umiami305, it was posted on a forum which I frequent. It depicts the South Terminal at MIA which is soon to open. Notice the MIAMI spelled on the side of the building. It’s a nice touch most people tend to miss upon first glance…

Office Boom Could be a Boon

The following is a guest article written by Ryan. This article was written before the Herald’s article yesterday regarding the potentially impending office boom we could soon be witnessing and therefore bears little reference to it. Enjoy.

Greetings and Salutations. I’m Ryan, The Sprawl Hater, and I’ll be dropping by Transit Miami once a week or so to offer my perspective on the oft-frustrating, always complex, but never dull journey that is Miami’s growth and development.

Has anyone noticed something conspicuously missing from the explosive high-rise boom in and around downtown? If you guessed low vacancy rates, you’re probably right. If you guessed a legitimate, centrally located transit hub, you’d probably be right, too. Nevertheless, I’m talking about office buildings, people.

Last I checked South Florida had the worst office sprawl in the country. That’s right folks, worse than sultans of sprawl Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas. A Brookings Institute study in 2003 found that of the 13 largest metropolitan regions, South Florida’s major downtown (MIAMI!) had a mere 13% of the metro’s office space. Even worse, virtually ALL office growth in Miami-Dade since 1987 has occurred out of downtown. HOW COULD THIS BE? Or, more importantly, what is being done about it?

Unfortunately, not enough is being done. With nearly 100 new high-rise or mid-rise buildings finished, approved, or planned between Wynwood and Brickell, you can pretty much count the number of new office buildings on one hand. It’s possible we could have 70,000 more condo units here in only a few more years, so where are the new office buildings to compliment 100,000+ aristocrats professionals living in our city’s elongated, coast-hugging core?

The building on the right in the picture above is Met II, the largest and most noteworthy office building currently approved for construction. It will be between 31-46 floors and is set for completion by 2009 (I’d be willing to take bets on that.) A couple others have been proposed in the Brickell area, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be built – and it still isn’t nearly enough.

This could be a big problem, people. The building boom in and around downtown has been mostly good (sans affordable housing, BayLink, and a delayed Streetcar), but without the offices it runs the risk of becoming a high-density bedroom community. This ultimately defeats the purpose of living downtown: easy pedestrian, taxi, and/or transit access to work and home. An office shortage means demand for parking downtown will remain high (stay tuned for a later post on this quagmire). The last thing we need is people living on Miami Ave. and commuting to Doral office park cities out in suburbia.

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Not Going Anywhere For A While…

It wasn’t a rhetorical question, more of a declaration. You can still grab a Snickers bar if you’d like, I did.

For anyone who is wondering what the heck the FDOT is up to on the Palmetto and Dolphin Expressways, they created a little website to answer many of your questions. Personally, I love the way they shut down all but one lane at night forcing me sit idle while cars merge psychotically upon me, or the way the left lane of the palmetto is usually blocked off with Bob’s Barricades for no apparent reason. I find Rick’s blog’s name to be one of my saddest weekly experiences as I sit there gazing at all the other frustrated drivers who, like me, are stuck on the Palmetto.

In any case, the mess they have started now, isn’t slated to be completed until 2012 (I’m assuming this date is flexible in one direction only.) As the dolphin expressway is expanded westward to accommodate the sprawl we have all grown to embrace, the FDOT decided to finally fix the terrible interchange between the Dolphin and Palmetto Expressways Slow moving Parking Lots. Simultaneously, the Palmetto is being widened slightly at some key points both North and South of the Dolphin as well as receiving new noise barrier walls and exits, you know, so that cars can flow quicker onto the already clogged Bird Rd, 8th st, Coral Way, etc. Meanwhile the Dolphin is also being widened as it receives a new toll plaza to pay for the current project. Forget Okeechobee, they are currently in the process of depressing part of its roadway to allow the FEC tracks and Hialeah Expressway to cross without impeding traffic (can’t have those damn trains get in the way of our cars…)

Someone also decided that it would be a bright idea to enhance Krome avenue south of where it meets with Okeechobee. I’m assuming this measure was taken to help accelerate the development of land outside the UDB; precisely what the “very-well” educated members of our county commission desired seeing that they are always looking out for the best interests of the citizens developers.

The above picture is of the new interchange which will one day “seamlessly” whisk you from the Palmetto to the Dolphin or vice versa…Until then, idle away in traffic, I’ll be at the Palmetto, Palmetto Metrorail station that is…

Roll Again…

I would like to officially apologize to all my regulars who came back to work on Wednesday in full force and checked out the site for updates (Yeah, Google Analytics lets me see you too.) Posting has been a little schizophrenic lately due to the Cancun Schedule of beer by the pool at 10 am; but, I promise we will be back to normal by the weekend.

It’s nice to be back in Miami (not really) facing the traffic and construction on my regular route to work in the mornings. So, I decided to choose an alternate route, which much to my dismay also had construction on it. I then realized that my third and fourth alternate routes were also torn apart sending cars haphazardly merging into one mess (Or in my case, through the residential neighborhoods surrounding the area.) Fantastic, whose bright idea was it to tear up 37th avenue, LeJeune Rd, Ponce De Leon Blvd, and 27th avenue simultaneously? This person is up for a Maricon Monday award. The second and fourth projects I listed are so adamantly named projects 15 and 17 on the FDOT site. Four major arterials simultaneously rendered useless by State planners. Complete lack of communication by the DOT within the agency, as well as with Coral Gables city planners which I believe are handling the Ponce streetscape disaster. Do not pass go. Do not get to work on time. Do not collect $200. Literally…