5th & Alton, the big box "vertical retail center" that will be built at the gateway to Miami Beach from MacArthur Causeway defines what happens when art and architecture meet a committee, something I blithely label-- because I can-- Atrocity By Committee. The ABCing of the American landscape occurs when the anal and small minded laboring under the auspices of a selected group arbitrarily rework an artist's vision to make it palatable for their communities, often draining it of its power and individuality.
Case in point is 5th & Alton. The Miami Beach Design Review and Historic Preservation boards rejected two designs before accepting this one. According to the Miami Herald, the developer's first submission was Art Deco-- but it was rejected because they wanted a "world class" design at the entrance to the Beach. The reworked design was rejected for a second time because it was too world class. The one you see here is the third and final design which passed muster. Too bad "too world class" won't cut it on the Beach. Setting arbitrary standards on what is acceptable for the public by a group of self-righteous know-it-alls hurts everyone and deprives our community from another opportunity to stand out from the crowd of the pedestrian and boring. Remember this, my children, art should never be left in the hands of a committee.
I find very little appealing about 5th & Alton aside from the Publix and the Best Buy that will be going there for you mortals. In my opinion, aesthetically it could have been much, much more-- especially for such a landmark site. For example, what's with all that curved concrete facing one of the best views of downtown Miami and cruise ships leaving the Port of Miami? Where's the glass? Bar and restaurant space could have been put there. Can't you imagine the sunset views? Thanks to all of that parabolic concrete, I'm sure the intense concentrated sunlight bouncing off the wall will melt metal and blind drivers on the Alton Road flyover, adding new meaning to the term "flyover." In the end, Miami Beach becomes just another atrocity on the American landscape.