Yesterday, Gabriel opined about how ridiculous the commission-initiated plan was to construct a Bay of Pigs museum on Parcel B behind the American Airlines Arena. Though he did a great job illustrating the bad urban design and architecture of the project, I felt compelled to write about just how preposterous this whole idea is. I’m sure I won’t say much that hasn’t already been said, but I don’t care.
Where do we begin? How about this beauty from Chairman Bruno Barreiro:
“I think we might hamper and will hamper the arena if we do not really consider an additional parking structure with amenities on that site.”
It’s hard for me to imagine any educated person saying this with a straight face. I certainly don’t think the AAA, or the Miami Heat organization, has been hampered thus far. Plus, with new parking facilities seemingly going up by the month downtown, it’s even more unrealistic to think the AAA or the Miami Heat is being “hampered” by a lack of parking. And don’t use the excuse that Metrorail and Metromover are already at capacity during AAA events - add more train cars (Metrorail), increase frequency, or both during games and concerts.
Then Chairman Barreiro, implying that such a museum could still be “park-like”, says:
“You could design these things nowadays with a lot of greenery around the edges and borders, a very friendly pedestrian use.”
Now, look, it’s understandable that the Chairman, a Cuban-American, or someone like Javier Souto, a Bay of Pigs vet, would offer their strong support for such a museum, even using transparent language like this. But com’n, another waterfront Museum, on top of a parking garage? It’s bad enough as it is don’t try to sell this as “park-like” or “pedestrian-friendly”.
The third quote that caught me off guard, courtesy of Commissioner Sosa:
“It’s (the museum) going to be very close to the water, and the history of Cuba is so close to the water.”
Wow. Do I even need to explain why this statement is completely asinine? That’s no reason to put a museum on top of a parking garage on prime downtown waterfront property!
Furthermore, voters were promised real park space on Parcel B. If anything, this Parcel should be incorporated with the Museum Park Master Plan. After all, the goal has been to connect Museum/Bicentennial Park with the piece of land occupied by the AAA using a pedestrian bridge. Why not go the extra mile and finally make this Parcel into a high quality waterfront public space?
Let me close by saying I’m not at all opposed to a Bay of Pigs museum. There are other locations and designs, however, that much more appropriate than on Parcel B. I just get the feeling that the county Commission is forcing this one down our collective throats…because they can. It’s a cheap shot proposing this museum on the waterfront, because no one in their right political mind is going to denounce this. The sad truth is that it would be political suicide in Miami. If citizens didn’t take it personally (which I’m sure many would), fellow commissioners would find a way to make anyone opposing it out to be racist, hostile to war vets, or out of touch with the Cuban-American community.
Typical Miami politics.
”This is a very beautiful thing that will look good on the bay,” said Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who said it could compare to Sydney’s signature Opera House in Australia.
Evidently Natacha has never visited, let alone seen what the Sydney Opera House looks like. The preliminary designs by Chisholm Architects more likely resembles a cheap imitation Mies van der Rohe house, on steroids. Even then, remotely comparing this thing to any Mies van der Rohe structure is glorifying it far too much; this thing is HIDEOUS folks. What’s more, it’s boxy shape apparently tries its best to pave over the full 4.5 acre park (like most Cuban-American homes in Hialeah…)
”Obviously, the area has changed dramatically from what it was in the past,” said Chairman Bruno Barreiro, fretting that nearby development was leaving the arena without sufficient parking. “I think we might hamper and will hamper the arena if we do not really consider an additional parking structure with amenities on that site.”
Some said it could maintain a park-like atmosphere with the right landscaping. ”You could design these things nowadays with a lot of greenery around the edges and borders, a very friendly pedestrian use,” Barreiro said.
AKA: We’ll skimp out due to cost overruns and plant some Queen Palms…
Now, let’s apply some of the principles learned by the studies conducted by William Whyte on successful urban spaces in the late 1970’s and portrayed in this Month’s BoM.
Blue Circle: First and foremost a successful Urban Park is no more than 3 ft above or below the surrounding pavement, thus making the two flights of stairs necessary to enter the only open space left in the 4.5 acre park and immediate physical and sociological drawback to the urban space. An excerpt:
“Circulation and sitting, in sum, are not antithetical but complimentary. It is to encourage both that the zoning stipulates the plaza not be more than three feet above or below the street level. The easier the flow between street and plaza, the more likely people are to move between the two- and to tarry and sit.”
Red Circle: Large concrete open spaces do not bode well in the Miami sunlight. See those little people walking around in the plaza? Their a figment of someone’s imagination because nobody, in their right mind will be attracted into an unshaded, concrete park, two flights of stairs above street level, and in an area whose eastern bay view is completely obstructed by a blank concrete wall…It’s just not happening. An Excerpt:
“In summer, [people] will generally sit in the sun as well as the shade; only in very hot weather- 90 degrees or more- will the sunny spots become vacant.”
Yellow Circle: Street interaction? Inexistent. There is some foliage provided as Barriero suggested, but its only in place to cover up the monstrous parking garage this building will sit atop. The site is foreboding to pedestrians and the on street parking depicted is highly unlikely, given that a garage is being constructed…
Green Circle: Look at the public access to the Bay. Also Inexistent. It appears that the Museum has taken advantage of the beautiful vistas and has wholly blocked off the easter views to the non-paying public. The covered breezeways on the east side of the building provide cover only to museum patrons.
Heck, we’d do anything to revert to the original plans which included an apartment building attached to an entertainment complex…Anything but an above ground parking structure on prime public waterfront land…Are these people even thinking?
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