Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida
When was the last time you looked upon a parking garage and said to yourself, what a beautiful piece of architecture? If the answer to that is a soft chuckle and the word, "never," then you've not been to Miami Beach recently, or else you weren't expecting a beautiful piece of architecture in a high-rise city the natives call SoBe (short for South Beach). Until he died about a year and a half ago my brother was a SoBe resident. I recall we decided to go have a look at the city's Lincoln Road (pedestrian) Mall. The attractive tourist shopping thoroughfare was very much worth the effort (this was about 2010). And that was about the time the architectural showpiece by the Swiss architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron opened to the public a most unusual parking garage at the west end of the mall. It was known then and now simply as Eleven-Eleven Lincoln Road.
An attractive, even beautiful, parking garage?
The glassed-in central space contains a restaurant.
A car park is a public facility, not unlike a train station or an airport, where people change from one mode of transportation to another. Lincoln Road Mall is a very alive, urban experience, a pedestrian shopping street where small-scale restaurants and bars serve their customers day and night, all year round, under lush trees and stars. Eleven-Eleven is a new place for people to leave their cars so they can hang out on Lincoln Road Mall, go see a movie, or have a swim in the ocean. To create another standard parking structure on a retail base, with a façade that hides the ugliness of what is being stored inside, and with a recessed penthouse on top, would not have answered the urban requirements of this place. Seeing the potential of the project, Miami Beach authorities courageously approved more height on this corner, but not far more. The additional height granted is used for higher ceilings, more air, panoramic views and a better looking structure.
What is Eleven-Eleven and how do you get there?
The nature of Lincoln Road was one source of inspiration for the architecture of the car park. Another was its connection to the massive, (now closed) Suntrust office building. The garage is a fully open concrete structure. Ceiling heights vary between standard parking height and double or even triple height (up to thirty-five feet), in order to accommodate other programs, permanently as well as temporarily. A retail unit and a private residence are located on the upper levels. The open space can also be used for parties, photo or film shoots, fashion shows, concerts or other social and commercial activities. The building offers amazing views as the backdrop for the stage. An unenclosed, sculptural stair in the center of the building makes pedestrian circulation in the garage a panoramic, ceremonial experience, as much as moving through the building in a car. The private residence that is nested on a mezzanine of the top floor of the car park. It spills out onto terraces. Though folded into the structure it is screened by intense landscaping. The terraces also bridge across to the roof of the existing (SunTrust) building. The structure has room for three-huindred cars and cost $65-million to build.

A cross-section drawing reveals the building's use and access ways.
The structural elements are the architecture. The car park is an organized structure made up of a family of concrete slabs, deployed as floor plates, columns and ramps. The location and form of these elements result from a series of forces acting upon each other, a complex overlapping of site, and building code requirements, combined with program choices and the aspirations of both to integrate with Lincoln Road Mall where it celebrates road's beginning at Alton Road.

Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
The Eleven-Eleven project included the transformation of the massive Suntrust Bank building from the 1970s into a publicly accessible place. The lowest floor plate of the car park cuts away a large part of the ground floor of this building, creating a fully glazed, kinked storefront all along Lincoln Road. The new structure opens up the heavy concrete building for 16 tenants who bring new brands to Lincoln Road Mall, such as Y3, Osklen, Taschen, and Nespresso--clothes, books, coffee, et-cetera. A new entry and an open, well-lit staircase in one of the existing corner towers of the Suntrust building indicates the new rooftop restaurant, which offers exquisite views over the Art Deco District and the Miami Beach skyline.

A parking garage with many faces and facets.
The new Suntrust Bank is a kind of “architecture with no architects.” it tries not to make an architectural statement towards Alton Road, next to the rather expressive car park. It is a two-story stucco building with the bank on the ground floor and four identical, introverted houses on the upper floor. As the site has no views to offer, the scenery for the apartments is created by two carefully landscaped courtyards. The façade expresses nothing more than the stairs behind a white ornamental lattice. And finally, Lincoln Road Mall itself has been redesigned between 1111 and the cinema across the street. Before the transformation, this last block was still open for automobile traffic. The full width of the street is now paved in black and white stripes of natural stone, from façade to façade, creating a generous common plaza with groups of trees of substantial age and size. Restaurants are limited in number so as to keep a large area of “commerce free” public space--instead of chairs and tables there are benches and water features inviting visitors to sit down and relax. A glass pavilion by Dan Graham raises the status of the plaza to yet another level.

A view of the Lincoln Road pedestrian plaza next to Eleven-Eleven.
A little less than ten years ago, the 1100 block of Lincoln Road was just another city block in Florida, with all the trappings one would expect: heavy traffic, wide medians, and lots of palm trees. Developer Robert Wennett saw that it had potential, especially considering its history as the one-time commercial center of Miami Beach. (Its revitalization had occurred in the 1990s) and was linked to the city’s most well-known architect, Morris Lapidus. The site is at the western end of Lincoln Road’s eight-block promenade, which runs perpendicular to the waterfront.

The lighting inside does not compete
with the architecture but enhances
and "flavors" it.
Lincoln Road was once known as the “Fifth Avenue of the South.” The economy of Miami Beach has suffered many ups and downs throughout the 20th-Century, but from 1920 through the mid-1950s, came a building boom that peak-ed in the 1930s. Miami Beach was in its prime as a resort town. Varying, and sometimes compet-ing, architectural styles character-ized this time period. The fact that Wennett didn’t want to demolish any of the existing buildings along the block meant that, in some instances, the designers had to make their references to the road’s architectural history quite literal. In particular, a massive Brutalist bank, with its 1960s-era defensive stance, provided a challenge. It fell to Herzog & de Meuron to rework the bank building and integrate it into the pedestrian-friendly surroundings. They left the white volume largely unchanged, except for opening the first two stories to install a more approachable, glazed retail floor.

The penthouse, located toward the left side and rear of the building features not only the ubiquitous Florida swimming pool but also a sloping rooftop garden.
Besides a luxury penthouse and a unique, sloping, rooftop garden (above), there is now also a restaurant atop the building. The banking institution itself was moved to the more modest two-story structure facing Alton Road, which the architects designed specifically for the SunTrust relocation. Herzog & de Meuron designed a parking garage that would extend the old SunTrust and replace an existing surface parking lot. Because of the ambitious nature of the overall development, they designed a building that is much more than a typical garage. They leveraged the strengths of the building type--its monumentality and visibility--while avoiding its typical weaknesses. The parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road is not over-scale, under-articulated, or repetitive. In fact, it has become the defining symbol of the development.

Ground level shopping.

High-rise privacy.


No comments:

Post a Comment