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Architecture students work on waterfront plans

Scenic promenade and walkway in Miami part of project

By: Chelsea Kate Isaacs // News Editor

Issue date: 7/8/08 Section: News
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More than 300 students in the University of Miami's School of Architecture participated in an assignment that would benefit their education and be an asset to the community of Miami as a whole.

The Miami Waterfront Project, which took place during the entire fall semester of 2007, gave students and all of the school's design studios the opportunity to help design a walkway along the city of Miami's 5 mile-long public waterfront, from Alice Wainwright Park north of Vizcaya to Magnolia Park at Northeast 39th street, including the downtown Miami River waterfront.

The project was intended to be an academic exercise for students to gain real world architectural experience. Students were able to speculate about strategies to transform a section of Miami into an area for the public to enjoy thereby improving surrounding communities.

"Think of it as a very long linear park or a street like Ocean Drive," said Thomas Spain, a professor in the School of Architecture, whose students worked on designing sites adjacent to the waterfront. "Students could design a marina or a place to just sit and watch the sunset. The idea is to have elements that bring people to the water and make the waterfront continuously accessible and usable in a variety of different ways."

Students incorporated architectural knowledge and creativity to conjure up ideas that could transform the waterfront property into a beautiful and functional Miami destination. Mariela Davalos, a junior architecture major, said she'd like to renovate an existing parking garage located near Miami's Four Seasons Hotel with sidewalk cafes and shops, while third-year architecture student Katherine Bauder came up with the idea of converting a rarely used street near the Four Seasons into a promenade with park benches and gazebos.

"Not since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 has the school as a whole tackled a single issue like the Waterfront study," said Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of the School of Architecture, in a press release. "Our hope is to show our students the many ways the natural and built elements of a waterfront can improve the livability and beauty of a city."

The participating students celebrated the launch of the project last September, exhibiting research photos, drawings and drafts of their waterfront designs in the Architecture Center's gallery. The university invited guest speakers, experienced and renowned in waterfront design, to offer advice to the students. Guests included Alex Cooper of Cooper & Robertson Architects, who designed Miami's Museum Park and the Battery Park promenade in New York City, and designer Angel Morua of Madrid.

This fall, an exhibition is being planned to feature all drawings and models of the waterfront, including the designs of all studios. Victor Santana and Jacob Brillhart, both School of Architecture lecturers, will curate and mount the exhibit with the aid of student teaching assistants. A book is also being written to commemorate the study and to record and present the results.

This fall, the culmination of the Waterfront Project will take place at a symposium, exhibition opening and reception at Miami's Freedom Tower on Friday, Sept. 26. Over 200 drawings and models will be on display from the exhibition opening through its conclusion on Nov. 7.

To learn more about the Miami Waterfront Project, visit www.arc.miami.edu/waterfront.html.

Chelsea Kate Isaacs may be contacted at chelsea@miami.edu.
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