Posts by: James Wilkins

With several of our readers expressing doubts (some outright disdain) about the recently revealed design for the new Miami Art Museum, I recommend attending the exhibition at the present day MAM for any of those interested in finding out more.

Although still a work in progress (and the title of the exhibit) there is much to be gleaned from the show, including insights into the process of the architects. One element I was excited to see was the detailed, artful execution for the roof. All of the residents along the Biscayne corridor should be happy to see this, in light how little consideration is usually given to the roof of any building. The American Airlines Arena was good enough to employ a plane graphic making the roof acceptable and advertisement. The new MAM however will read more as a modernist composition from high above. Significant even for planes flying in to MIAMI International Airport. The path of this growing institution gets more and more interesting.

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A collective sigh of relief can be heard as the unveiling of this intriguing new building for the home of the Miami Art Museum is commenced. Recent memory cannot recall a time when so much anticipation over a new civic structure has captured the imagination and concern of so many. I for one am completely ecstatic. As is much reported with Herzog and DeMeuron, one never knows quite what to expect, but can usually rest assured that something of great beauty will transpire, and they do not disappoint.
The initial model and renderings for the building depict an elegant, entirely contemporary building, that manages to embrace and incorporate many of Miami’s architectural histories, and issues. With the first and third floors sheathed in glass the 2nd floor galleries appear the levitate. The generous canopied roof provides a huge amount of shaded exterior public space that will be punctuated by sculptural indigenous plants, some climbing the columns, others hanging down through a beautiful abstraction of skylights that perforate the roof. These features will go a long way to ensure the capture of bay breezes for natural cooling.

The sheltered plaza should be all that is necessary to alleviate the concerns of massive buildings overrunning the park. The visual lightness of the structure as well will serve to maintain that the natural elements of the bay and the park are heralded.

The building could well be described as quiet. Herzog and DeMeuron are known for creating architecture that is subtle restrained and delicate and yet absolutely brilliant, even scintillating, at the same time. It brings to mind other recent important museums that, while also great architecture, could be seen as boisterous and some would go as far as to say gauche, by comparison, and yet no more aesthetically satisfying.

This is an exciting time for architecture and design in Miami and we could now well have a crown jewel.

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Art Deco, taking many cues from fascist architecture and graphic design, who in turn was referencing early Roman design.

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Having been a citizen of Miami for nearly three weeks now, it has become increasingly clear to me how vital the work at transitmiami.com truly is. As with all things Miami, it seems that many of the elements that make Miami so wonderful are in constant battle with the elements that hamper its greatness. The realities of traffic, congestion, infrastructure, public transportation and the reliance and love affair with the automobile are a major burden. The fallout of this reality is not limited to, but includes-after just a few week- significant limits the potential for productivity, impacts on the environment, and an unfortunate blanket of struggle over daily life. I for one, as I believe for certain many concerned Miamians do as well, have been trying to find alternative solutions, however, there is little help in place, with woefully inadequate public transport options. It will require nothing less than getting very creative. Aquatic mass transport, in this oasis of waterways is perhaps, a logical good step. More will need to be done than to leave it to the one man solution illustrated here, however, zero impact on the environment is a good thing.


The Hollywood- Young Circle Arts Park has been impressively executed. The centrally located new park is a strong indicator of Hollywood’s very serious commitment to creating a livable exciting environment for its residents.


Many of the right notes were hit in this redesign of a delinquent public space. Water features as well as beautiful planters (beautifully planted) and progressively designed lampposts, benches and playground rides abound.


The arts center building is boldly envisioned and yet aesthetically accessible to the masses. An adjacent outdoor performance space holds great promise for building a strong community. Perhaps the one significant criticism is the lack of shade trees. Although they are not non-existant, my September visit to the park was, notably, a sweltering experience. The inclusion of mature Ceiba trees as a gateway to the park is nothing less than regal. Hopefully the shade trees that have been planted will fill in nicely over the coming months and years. The park is a major achievement, both civic and aesthetic, and should be looked at as model to be emulated throughout South Florida.

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The little engine that hopes it can. It remains to be seen if the Metromover will prove to be, at least the first link in a more effective chain of public transport for the new residences in downtown. The glacial pace of transit progress for Miami seems impossible to influence. But at least we have the little blue train.

While some may find a lamppost to be a mundane element in the urban landscape, it is yet another of the thousands of elements that create the complete aesthetic experience of our environment. This beautiful new lamppost design in Midtown Miami is another piece in the puzzle of the cool design mecca that is blossoming in Miami. Every single improvement reveals its significance in the final vision. Whether it is a newly planted tree or 70 story skyscraper.

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Miami takes on a remarkable resemblance to the painter Magritte’s vision of the world.

New eco-friendly transportation for Miami? No, but a fun time with which to get the proverbial birds eye view of the new emerging downtown. The attraction will be open to the public within 2 weeks time and will bring another level of art to the downtown experience. A beautiful compliment to Museum park, its nearby neighbor.

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Can anyone name the artist and title of this classic modernist sculpture in Chicago? The title certainly lends to the possibility that it would be ideal in Miami. The middle of the 20th century saw great and numerous public art erected, a repeat performance that could be pivotal in the transformation of DWNTWN Miami.

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The winds of change are blowing. Here is yet another interesting proposal to harness the energy expended by the burning of fossil fuels. Wind turbines incorporated into highway dividers will reclaim the energy of cars racing by, which will then be used to power public rail transportation.

While it remains to be seen where and how quickly such technologies will be exploited, it gives some sense of comfort to the mind knowing that this kind of thinking, and planning for the future, is in play. Of course it can happen none to soon. It also addresses the concerns of those who find wind farms unsightly. Personally however, I think a wind farm as a border between development and the everglades could be a beautiful and poetic commentary on the transition between man and nature.

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What urban museum is illustrated here? Showing the qualities that many of our readers find to be the most important for a museum in an urban park. Lots of green space. Structure not imposing of the natural elements, but vice versa. Design ingenuity. Walkability. To name just a few.

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Transit and transportation are almost never issues that come stress free. Public art is one remedy to alleviate that stress. Check out this somewhat representational and yet somewhat abstract large scale outdoor sculpture to be erected at the intersection of two main highway arteries in Missouri. The selection is based on a visibility issue as well as any therapeutic value, however, art, anywhere, is always a good thing. We shouldn’t forget the visually soothing phenomenon of water, so abundant in Miami. How could it be further capitalized upon?

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This intriguing new structure by Thom Mayne/Morphosis can help to clear up any misgivings about great architecture and limited budgets. The San Francisco Federal building is an 18 story building and was brought in under budget at 144 million dollars, about $249 / square foot. This very reasonable price for such a major structure shows that with careful planning and innovative conscious designers anything is possible.

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Here is an interesting proposal?! As commuters expend energy through fuel consumption the energy released by the automobiles will then be harnessed by turbines. The poetics of no energy ever being created, but simply transferred, is satisfyingly embraced in this concept. Not to mention the benefit of a constant visual mantra of the global warming crisis being ever present while driving.

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