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2016 MCHAP.emerge

Art Deco Project


Miami, FL, USA

November 2015




SB Architects (Executive Architect) Spiers + Major (Lighting Designer) GFRC Cladding Systems (GFRC Manufacturer) CHM Structural Engineers LLC (Structural Engineer) Island Planning Corporation (Landscape Architect)


Miami Design District Associates




The building strives to be a unique expression of contemporary Miami. It seeks to acknowledge the city’s rich past while it helps to shape the future of the Design District as a dynamic and varied pedestrian culture and shopping district. Like the Design District itself, with its world-class contemporary art offerings and international brands, the building participates in an international design dialogue while being responsive to its local environment.


The project is part of the ongoing redevelopment of Miami’s Design District. Over the past ten years our client, Dacra Development has been working to transform this neighborhood, which had fallen into urban decay, into a vibrant center for art, culture and retail. Though the scale of the redevelopment is large and and the pace relatively rapid, it is important to the entire development team that the new urban fabric not fall prey to the monotony of a typical master planned district. Rather they are resolved that it should emerge from the existing urban fabric and remain an authentic part of the city. The developer resisted the urge to turn the neighborhood into a kind of fixed and sterile cultural mall. The original city grid remains intact and the development is unfolding in phases, with each building establishing its own identity and its own relationship to the place. This concept has proven to be a potent catalyst, as Dacra’s initial development has attracted new public investment in the area as well as additional private interests.


The project is grounded in its neighborhood while it reaches out to the city of Miami at large. It revives Miami’s rich legacy of Art Deco design but within a contemporary context. The facade of the building is inspired by the bold pleated geometric motifs that shaped much of Miami’s signature architecture from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. Here, as in those historical examples, its signature fanning motif dramatizes the play of Miami’s distinct tropical sunlight across its surface, heightening the building’s sense of place as it changes throughout the day and across the seasons. The pleated ripple of the building’s facade helps to break down it’s scale while framing its multiple storefronts, producing recessed coffers that maintain a pedestrian scale at street level to blend the building into the surrounding neighborhood. The facade is created from a modular tiling of Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels. The assembly is designed to look as varied and continuous as possible while being produced efficiently, through the production of just a few modular parts. In this way, we connect the past to the present by recalling the city’s Art Deco legacy but expressed through a contemporary high-performance material system. One that is light enough to act as a facade element while being tough enough to meet Miami’s stringent hurricane codes. The building is designed to be unique, yet of its place, and to help shape its neighborhood into a vibrant pedestrian-centered community.

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