Saturday, June 12, 2010

Miami through the Windshield

Before today's wrap of the AIA Convention in Miami Beach, I had only one chance for a little architectural tourism, a 30-minute drive before dinner on Friday. Below are the three buildings I drove by, photos snapped through the windshield quite haphazardly. A few more photos can be found in this Flickr set. These buildings will be posted to The Archi-Tourist soon with more information; for now just a few comments.

New World Symphony by Frank Gehry, scheduled to open later this year:
New World Symphony
This elevation facing the Fillmore and the Convention Center to the north gives only a hint at the "Gehry" going on here. Around the corner is a long wall -- half blank white (for projecting images) and half glass -- facing a future 2-acre park. The glazed area is where the action is, with sculptural objects, visible behind the glass, apparently breaking through the roof above as well as the curtain wall at the entrance. It's an interesting parti that veils Gehry's expression behind sometimes transparent glass. The facade pictured above resembles a billowing curtain, a fairly obvious metaphor for the musical performance spaces within.

Publix Supermarket by Carlos Zapata, 1998:
Publix by the Bay
Tucked into a corner of Miami Beach west of the Convention Center is this store for the grocery chain Publix. Like many urban supermarkets a multi-story footprint is required. Zapata's design uses a ramp-escalator, an element that is exposed behind a larger expanse of glazing and becomes the primary expression, as the wall curves and cantilevers, following the movement of the shoppers.

11 11 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron, 2010:
11 11 Lincoln Road
Most of the brouhaha in Miami architecture now is focused on Herzog & de Meuron's parking garage, part of the 11 11 Lincoln Road development. (The project is more often written as "1111 Lincoln Road" but also with a space between the four ones; I'm not sure which is proper, but I'm using what is used on the official web page, assuming the project is meant to be voiced as "eleven eleven.") The development also includes residences, renovated office space and retail.

11 11 Lincoln Road
11 11 Lincoln Road
The garage at Lincoln and Alton Roads (the above photos are looking down and up Alton) marks the entry to the Lincoln Road mall, a product of 11 11 developer Robert Wennett. It's obvious from the variety in the garage's floor plates -- something usually uniform because all cars are basically the same -- that more is going on than the temporary storage of cars. A boutique sits about halfway up the building, with an event space near the top and a future penthouse for the developer still being constructed.

11 11 Lincoln Road
11 11 Lincoln Road
My thoughts on the building are gestating, but my long-held point-of-view on parking garages is that even the best-designed parking garages don't deserve high praise, they are not a type worthy of appreciation. (Only from the brain of somebody who's never owned a car.) But the creative programming that informs the unique stacking and structure of the garage makes the building a hybrid of sorts, not a strict parking garage. Nevertheless I'm not convinced if it's good architecture, if it's deserving of the attention it's getting because of the Pritzker Prize-winning names behind it.

11 11 Lincoln Road