Vienna is a grand city, far more grandiose than most European Capitals due to its’ rich history with the Babenburg and then the Hapsburg family dynasties. Just walking around, the city exudes wealth, through its opulent architecture, gold-leafed trimming, and excessive sculpture. The Hapsburgs were rather generous with the citizens they presided over, as far as royalty goes, anyhow. Toward the end of their reign, they opened several parks for public use, constructed two massive museums, and dotted the city with various other cultural institutions. Seeing that Miami has recently concluded the construction of our opera house and is set to begin construction on two bayside museums, I believe we can and should look for the guidance of cities such as Vienna when establishing our new cultural havens. Noting that Miami completely lacks the history and wealth of the Austrian Capital, I think there are some interesting aspects which will broaden our horizons before we plan and design…

There isn’t much I can say about the Carnival Center, seeing that it is already built. I’ve walked through the area a couple of times and although the plaza and structure are pleasant, the surroundings are rather inhospitable; hopefully with some time the area might mature a little. The Vienna Opera House is situated at the end of the premier pedestrian thoroughfare in Vienna, which links it and the ring, with the center of Vienna and the Hofburg Imperial Palace. When walking by the Vienna State Opera House for the final time on our last night, I noticed an interesting element which caught my eye:

See it? I hope you do. Someone had the sense to retrofit the structure (built in the 1860’s) with parking. Genius. This brought about a small bout of laughter, as you would imagine, when I conjured images of the Carnival Center debacle I would be returning to the very next day. The interesting thing I later noted is that this was perhaps the only parking garage I saw anywhere near the city center. We seem to have done the opposite…

When approaching the Museums Quarter (Museumsquartier) I couldn’t help but think of endless possibilities for Bicentennial Park. Now, I know I am not an architecture critic, nor do I try to be, but the idea of a classical structure dotting our shoreline as either of the two Museum Park buildings bodes very well for me. I said it once to an art student, whose look should have silenced my architecture thoughts for eternity, but I actually think a modern Art structure juxtapositioned with a classical Museum of Science would add a great deal of depth to Miami’s architecture.

Back to my point. Standing between these hulking museums was impressive. I mean, here I was standing in awe of a couple of landlocked museums, just hoping that our new museums with the beautiful bay and beach backdrop could be just even one fifth as stimulating. Is it too much to ask for? We have the opportunity to showcase our architectural cultural talent to the world, quite literally, seeing that these museums will serve as the focal point of nearly every cruise passenger which departs from our harbor. And think, Miami, not Miami Beach, could perhaps for once be hailed for its beautiful waterfront architecture, luring boarding cruise passengers to extend their stay. We severely dropped the ball with the MCM, opting instead for a geometric display of retardation on Watson Island. Between the two museums stood a massive statue dedicated to Maria Theresia, it’s a rarity in Miami to find any recollection of our local history, let alone national history. Perhaps a statue of FDR would be fitting, considering he was nearly assassinated in nearby Bayfront Park…Just a thought…

Throughout all of my travels, I have always taken the time to compare the city I am visiting with my home town. I often think that Miami would be a much better city if we would just stop, think, and look around before coming up with decisions which will forever alter our urban landscape. We’ve had plenty of opportunities pass us by with failed or improperly managed projects: Metrorail, Miami Arena, Miami Marine Stadium, Miami Seaquarium, Orange Bowl, MIA, CCPA, etc. Plenty of chances to make our city just as marvelous to visit as say Paris, Chicago, or even ViennaWe’re number one right now in hotel occupancy and hotel rates nationally, but imagine how much more we can do to attract visitors to sites other than our shore…

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Related posts:

  1. Travels Through Europe, Part 1
  2. Travels Through Europe, Part 2
  3. Pig on Our Bay, Pt II
  4. There She Blows
  5. Museum Park Discussion
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4 Responses to Travels Through Europe, The Conclusion

  1. Steven says:

    The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is a world class facility. Part of the problem that the facility faces is just what was mentioned in the post about how the surrounding area is still immature for the type of facility that the Performing Arts Center is. Included in that is parking.

    A while back, there was talk about possibly burying the expressway (I 395) through the downtown area. Essentially the road would be buried somewhere around 3rd or 4th avenue in a covered trench and would allow construction on top of the roadway as well as reunifying the neighborhoods to the north with the neighborhoods to the south. This option would provide a great opportunity to build a mixed use parking structure that could serve the museums and the performing arts center as well as integrating with the metromover station that already exists.

    Basically what I propose would be a large parking structure at around 6 levels in height with smaller pedestrian friendly shops on the first level. By having the commercial development on the first level, it makes the garage as close to pedestrian friendly as a garage can be, while also giving people to stick their cars during events at the AAA as well as the CCPA and Museums. Having immediate close access to the metromover is an added benefit as well.

    This, of course, is only possible if I 395 were buried though.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can ANY road be buried in Miami? I though that there was too much water directly underground and that building underground roads and subways was too costly to achieve economically. Isn’t that why the metrorail was elevated in the first place?

    Anyway, speaking of cities in Europe, I found this cool site thats all for the development of car free cities and it reminds me more of the designs for cities in Europe and less of American cities.

  3. Steven says:

    Things can actually be burried in Miami. The idea for burrying the roadway was to create a trench and then cover that trench with construction and bridges.

  4. Michael Emilio + Miami Real Estate says:

    Well the Omni Center is getting a one billion dollar makeover, so the area looks to be improving.

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