Category Archives: Outside of the Box

Pondering Parcel B

Map: Parcel B, highlighted in red, is almost in the center of the proposed Baywalk path (blue line) and is even closer to being in the center of the entire Core.

As per the 2004 PPS report, there are several propositions for this excellently situated parcel’s use:

  1. Restaurants such as an outdoor bar and grill
  2. An outdoor market, farmer’s market, or collector’s market
  3. Soccer field
  4. Bait and tackle shop for nearby marinas
  5. Dancing Ballroom
  6. An open area for T.V. events
  7. Science Museum Wildlife facility
  8. Recreational activities pavilion
  9. Bay of Pigs Museum

I like none of them. Whatever goes on Parcel B needs to be alluring to residents, visitors, and tourists. It should boost civic pride, appeal to the public, and be a natural extension of the Baywalk. The Bay of Pigs Museum only appeals to a limited segment of the community and although deserving of a memorial, doesn’t merit parcel B as its location. The other ideas are too plain or trite.

So then, what should go on Parcel B? How about an open air plaza or square? This isn’t a new idea. It’s been circulating for sometime, but remains largely overlooked.

Sure its simple, but before you dismiss it, consider these points:

  • We don’t have a plaza or open square in the whole Core
  • Outdoor sculptures and art can be readily displayed
  • It has good linkage to pedestrians via Biscayne Boulevard, the proposed Baywalk, Bayside Marketplace, American Airlines Arena, and the proposed Museum Park
  • It’s an ideal location for an iconic monument
  • It’d be a great centerpiece for the whole Baywalk and serve as a natural extension of it
  • It wouldn’t block the view of the American Airlines Arena
  • Urban plazas are typically situated in the center of the City. Parcel B is smack dab in the center of the Core’s three main segments.
  • The area of parcel B is generally smaller, but comparable in size to other notable plazas and open squares including (I used Google Earth’s measurement tool):
    • Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
    • St. Marks Square, Venice, Italy
    • Plaza Maria Pita, A Coruna, Spain
    • Troickaia Square, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Of the nine proposed uses listed in the beginning of this post, at least three of them could be incorporated in to the plans for an open square (1, 2, and 6).
  • Having art installations or sculptures would coincide perfectly with the Art in Public spaces initiative promoted at the County and municipal level
  • Its rather inexpensive to construct and incorporate into the Baywalk

I understand that MAM’s plan in Museum Park includes a sculpture garden and maybe having both would be overkill, but a plaza or open square on Parcel B presents many other uses. Below are some images of the temporary sculpture exhibitions at the Plaza Maria Pita in La Coruna, Spain. Just imagine a similar square, dotted with art and people, with a backdrop of glistening blue water, towers, museums, and the AAA–all connected to the Baywalk. Not a bad thought.

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If Biscayne Bay Was a Grassy Field

It would look like this:

Image Via – EOS Miami’s Flickr

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Sir Norman Foster In Siberia?!?!

So the famed starchitect is designing a monolithic eco-friendly tower in the frost-ridden and desolate Russian territory of Siberia. It looks like something out of a Sci-Fi flick. I like.

Miami is in a slump and Siberia gets Foster. I feel sick.

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Outside of the Box: The Vertical Farm Project

In order to reduce dependence on outside agriculture sources, as well as pollution caused by trucking agricultural goods across the country, Professor Dickson Despommier, Columbia University, has come up with the vertical farm. From BBC News:

“The idea is simple enough. Imagine a 30-story building with glass walls, topped off with a huge solar panel. On each floor there would be giant planting beds, indoor fields in effect. There would be a sophisticated irrigation system. And so crops of all kinds and small livestock could all be grown in a controlled environment in the most urban of settings.”

Some of the advantages:

  • Year round crop production in a controlled environment
  • All produce would be organic as there would be no exposure to wild parasites and bugs
  • Elimination of environmentally damaging agricultural runoff
  • Food being produced locally to where it is consumed

Sounds pretty friggin great except who’s going to pay for such a project? Putting aside how much it would take to build, the proposed plans allow for an admirable level of self-sustainability:

“Energy would come from a giant solar panel but there would also be incinerators which use the farm’s waste products for fuel. All of the water in the entire complex would be recycled.”

I love the idea. If this is proven to be an effective method for harvesting quality crops, skylines will house farmlands. It just may take half a century.

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Dubai: “A City Unlike Any Other in Existence”

A preview of Dubai’s major projects (sick):

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Outside of the Box: Eco-Architecture in Asia

Image: Dongtan

While the U.S. is beginning to see an increased interest in “green” development, Asia has lagged behind, but according to the Wall Street Journal, this could soon change.

  • Dongtan Eco-City – Chongming Island, near Shanghai, China: This massive $1.3 billion development is being deemed the world’s first eco-city. The development, which is about 1/3 the size of Manhattan Island, will house three eco-friendly villages. Energy to power the community will be derived from the Sun, wind, bio-fuels, and recycled organic materials. A quarter of the island will be an untouched ecological buffer. Rainwater will be purified for use and vehicles will operate on clean fuels.
  • Ocean One – Pattay, Thailand: This 91-story 611 unit beach front condo tower has an array of green features. 80% of the water used in the building will be recycled. Tap water will be fed back into toilets, and then treated and used for the grounds and gardens. Solar panels on the roof of an adjacent commercial building will power shops and restaurants. The panels may generate excess energy that will be fed into Thailand’s national electricity grid.


Image: Ocean One

Hong Kong alone is seeing the completion of over 130 green buildings. According to the Wall Street Journal, the eco-architecture wave is spreading in Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Nanjing, and many other Asian cities. Brickell Key-dominating Swire Properties, has been involved in propelling the movement in Hong Kong with, among others, the Orchards development.

Miami is now beginning to become aware of the green building movement. The Brickell Financial Center and COR developments are the most high-profile to go green locally to date.

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