Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beckham Miami Soccer Stadium

Please click to enlarge.
Excuse me, but as much as I love Arquitectonica's work, I'm not swooning over their design for the PortMiami soccer stadium. Remove the "roof" and put the cost of building it into adding more seats. 25,000 isn't enough and will only require additional construction down the road.
I'd also put those extra seats on the side of the field facing downtown Miami, either on another level or sloping further back and upward like the sublime Rose Bowl. In MVB's approach, the stadium would be top heavy toward the east and shallower on the western edge to reveal as much as the downtown skyline as possible. In other words, it would be a tilted bowl with the soccer field sliding down toward the other end.

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

The case for building Beckham's soccer stadium at PortMiami

Please click images to enlarge.

The first time we heard David Beckham's first choice for a new MLS stadium was at PortMiami we thought, are you nuts? Gridlock is a common occurrence in downtown Miami as it is whenever something major is happening there. You don't want to be caught anywhere near the American Airlines Arena when the Miami Heat are playing there. Or anything is booked there. When the Arsht Center a few blocks up the street has got something going on at the same time, fagedabou getting anywhere on time downtown. It's like being caught in the Bermuda Triangle with no chance of escaping. 

Then Michael Putney, one of the area's great newsmen, reported that All Aboard Florida promised to run trains into PortMiami for soccer fans if the stadium is built there. Hmm... That means anyone living north of the stadium-- anyone as far away as Orlando-- could hop a train to see the game. This would only happen at this venue because the Dolphins and Marlins stadiums aren't anywhere near mass transit. As far as we're concerned, this is a game changer for seriously considering this location as the future home of the Miami Whatevers (we're partial to Miami United because it implies-- whether or not it's true-- we as a group of people actually are united and not separated by our need to hang on to our differences and allegiances to our "home" countries and, of course, Manchester United was Beckham's home team).  

As usual for MVB, we would expect our elected officials to require that the stadium has an iconic design. We favor an "less-is-more," open-air "bowl" that cantilevers out over the water and the train tracks leading into the port. Views of the downtown skyline should be breathtaking. Restaurants and cafes would face the water and docks. In this site, it becomes more unique in that fans could arrive by boat. 

But what about the other half of the population, the ones who live south of the train tracks? Well, they can take MetroRail, switch to MetroMover and then walk across Biscayne Boulevard and over the bridge to the stadium. Not perfect, but a little walking might be the only exercise some of these people may get so it's all good. 

A final inevitable solution to solving the traffic and parking nightmare downtown is quite radical. Although removing the parking islands in the middle of Biscayne Blvd has been talked about for decades, may we suggest that removing and realigning the northbound lanes become priority. In our approach, Bayfront Park would replace those lanes which would be moved westward (replacing the parking island). Finding new land for parks in downtown Miami is pretty much impossible but suddenly, acres and acres can now be added to the existing park (see before and after pictures below). In this rendering, we have planted royal poinciana trees along the western boundary of the park. This affords a beautiful and natural buffering zone between the hustle and bustle of Biscayne Blvd and the tranquility of the park. And since this will be a major endeavor that will take months to complete, we are humbly suggesting that an underground parking garage blocks long be dug at the same time beneath the new park land and road. It's possible thousands of cars could be parked there out of sight. This extra parking will help support Bayside, downtown, and the stadium. 
Biscayne Blvd and Bayfront Park today.

Biscayne Blvd and Bayfront Park tomorrow.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

CLOG: Miami

One of our intrepid correspondent's essay got picked-up by the influential architectural publication CLOG. Each quarterly issue "explores, from multiple viewpoints and various means, a single subject particularly relevant to architecture now." D.C. Copeland's A Cluster of Brown Dwarfs takes the less fawning and more critical stance in the issue that, although the region has a host of "starchitect's" buildings here, none of their completed projects or those in the foreseeable future are iconic: 

"Instead of landmark buildings— the supernovas in the SoFla starchitect constellation— palm trees, bikinis, beaches, and sweat stains will become the sole identifiers for the region. Of course, no city needs a landmark building but it's nice to have one, especially if the burg has pretensions of greatness. If SoFla is to be taken seriously as the “Gateway of the Americas,” it should demand more from the starchitects circling the current building boom. Maybe Gehry or SOM will come to the rescue when their designs for the arts building and train station are revealed. Until then, of the brown dwarfs, a possible contender as an example of “destination architecture” is Hadid’s parking garage since it reflects her futuristic, other-worldly style. While it stands out from the crowd, it’s only a parking garage— unless, of course, as a resident in the cluster, you’re proud to be living in a region famous for its parking garages."

That said, Miami and Miami Beach should be thankful that such a well-respected publication sought to highlight the region for this issue. It's a visual tour de force and includes essays by such luminaries in the field as architect Andrés Duany, a founder of the New Urbanism  movement and the guiding hand behind the Miami21 zoning code whose essay is titled "Miami is the Best City of its Age;" Chad Oppenheim (whose work we love); Terrence Riley (an architect and once director of the old Miami Art Musuem who we took to task for choosing Herzog & de Meuron as architects for the new Miami Art Museum); and a host of other academics and practitioners of the art and science of the profession.  CLOG: Miami is a unique touchstone to the region's architectural past, present, and future and is worth a buy for anyone interested in our man-made skyline and the power and politics of architecture.

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Dawntown Miami announces Miami Marine Stadium Floating Stage winners

Please click images to enlarge.

Unfortunately, Verticus' entry didn't make the cut but here it is anyway. It's a "fun homage to the Grand Dame." MVB has argued for years that Miami and the Beaches lack any building that could be labeled "destination architecture." Only after revisiting the Miami Marine Stadium (which we were lobbying since 2007 to restore) for this competition did we realize we were wrong. We've had such a structure since 1963 and it's the Marine Stadium. When it opened, it had the largest unsupported poured concrete canopy in the world. Probably still does. Only in our research for this competition did we learn that iconic roof line also has a descriptive name rooted in mathematics: "hyperbolic paraboloid." Who knew that anything called a hyperbolic paraboloid could look so sexy? The City of Miami should include the building in its official seal, put it in front of the palm tree. 

Re the Miami Marine Stadium, we have also been advocating for years that the City consider finding deep pocketed companies that would help pay for the restoration in exchange for naming rights. One of those companies we suggested was Red Bull with the idea that the stadium would become a marine and air arena. The Red Bull Miami Marine and Air Stadium would host the annual start and finish of the unlimited hydroplane and air racing seasons. 

During our research for the Dawntown Miami competition we got to thinking again about the stadium and what is happening to Virginia Key-- which is never very good when it comes to people who have a problem with thinking outside of the box. With that in mind we would like to suggest that our proposal for the air races also include on the east side of the Miami Marine Stadium basin-- the section that is undeveloped-- a permanent runway/drag strip. Yes, we can already hear the uproar over this idea (it's as loud as two top fuel dragsters smoking their tires at the start of a race)  but it isn't as radical as it seems. The basin is 6,000 feet long (try digging one of those today and you'll end up ostracized for being an insensitive, exploitive despoiler of the environment before the ink has dried on your proposal). We're suggesting building a (insert correct buzz word here:) "low-impact" 2,000-foot runway/dragstrip (see below) directly across from the Marine Stadium with seating for a few thousand on a grassy hill the same length as the stadium. The back side of the hill will drop off precipitously to accommodate an extension of the new "mountain" bike path and would be the steepest and most difficult part of that course. The "hill" would be constructed from the Port of Miami tunnel and channel deepening projects fill. The runway, of course, is for the air races-- a unique plus when you consider most of the airfields for the air races are off site. 

Please click image to enlarge.

Now, about those drag races. Miami needs one for all of those who like racing their cars in this county but don't have a place to do it legally and safely. Yes, there is one on the west end of the Opa Locka airport but it's temporary. Since no one wants a dragstrip in their backyard-- and who can blame them because of the noise pollution?-- a place to race that is a mile or more from the closest human resident happens to exist on Virginia Key across from the Marine Stadium. Using prefab noise abatement walls-- like those lining our freeways-- along the waterline behind the mangroves might make "moot" any issues re noise pollution. The raised natural berm/seating area on the other side of the runway/dragstrip should buffer sound too. To keep things simple and costs down, the pits area for both air and drag racers would be on the far southern end of the strip behind the starting line-- no extra paving for a separate area (this is an eco-friendly project by God!). Movable concrete construction barriers would separate lanes and a single return road. Best yet, the sloping seating area opposite the Marine Stadium could be used to sell "cheap seats" for boat, air racing or other events. Finally, the natural grass berm seating area would front the drag racing finish line, a line that could if need be, be drawn across an 1/8th mile track (660-feet) instead of the traditional 1/4 mile. Spectator parking for the drag races (and air and sea races) uses the spaces already available at the Marine Stadium and proposed parking garages (drag racing fans will have to actually walk around the basin to get to their seats-- hey, it's called exercise. They can walk past the pits to watch the crews working on the racing cars-- and planes-- in an informal, down-home friendly atmosphere). National and International TV coverage for the air races and the drag races can take place on TOP of that sexy Marine Stadium hyperbolic paraboloid.

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