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FIU reimagines Miami's port, Havana's seawall

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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:08 pm   
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The School of Architecture....

FIU reimagines Miami's port, Havana's seawall
Florida International University students let their creativity run wild imagining dazzling reconstruction of Miami's seaport and Havana's famous waterfront.
Posted on Mon, Jun. 09, 2008reprint print email
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This rendering of a concept for the Port of Miami by students at Florida International University's architecture school offers 'an opportunity to help strengthen the idea of Miami for visitors.'
» More Photos Imagine designing the gritty Port of Miami with structures in the likeness of a drop of food coloring spreading like a cloud in a tank of water or a woman undulating in a seductive dance.

Those are some of the inspirations for a group of students at Florida International University who spent the past year designing overhauls of the Port of Miami and Havana's famous waterfront strip, El Malecón.

The designs are purely conceptual and many would require billions of dollars to execute, but the possibilities they present to one of Miami's most barren and industrial waterfront spots are enough to trigger dreams of revival.

''This was a great opportunity to display iconic work,'' said Eric Goldemberg, the FIU assistant professor who led the project and the school's digital design coordinator. ``The Port of Miami could one day become a destination, an attraction.''

The idea to pursue the project came from the private sector. A Miami-based company with deep FIU roots called Spine 3d, which specializes in three-dimensional graphics for architectural renderings, expressed interest in sponsoring a project to let students imagine the most outlandish possibilities.

The result is a set of proposals that stretches the perceptions of the industrial facility with buildings and urban planning that draw inspiration from cigar leaves to mangrove trees.

For their design proposal at the Port of Miami, architecture graduate students Christian Vidal and Alessandro Gugliotta studied the shape of the human form while dancing to conceive their cruise terminal.

Anthony Jimenez studied the vascular pattern of a cigar leaf to map his urban design of an addition to Havana's Malecón stretching out into the Florida Straits.

''The cigar leaf is so Cuban,'' Jimenez said. ``A cigar, like a city, has layers, all with their own character.''


Most of the Malecón designs honor the colonial character of the existing strip but propose adding massive peninsulas that can be incorporated into the city's historic character. The idea to add to the Malecón rather than just replace it came from the Palm Island project in Dubai, where a man-made island shaped like a palm tree adds 520 kilometers of Persian Gulf beaches and urban infrastructure to the country's coastline.

The idea to get FIU students to suggest alternative looks for the port and Malecón started with Eddie Leon, president and CEO of Spine 3d, which specializes in architectural renderings. Leon, who once worked at FIU's architecture school, went to Cannes, France, a couple of years ago and developed an appreciation for how the city harnessed its waterfront to the fullest.

Spine 3d had drafted for other clients an in-depth rendering of downtown Miami, but the port was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. The company donated $10,000 to FIU's architecture school to help underwrite the project.

''Miami needs to compete on a much grander scale to be considered a world-class city,'' Leon said, singling out emerging cities like Seoul, South Korea, and Dubai. ``These are huge, wonderful destinations.''

He said the Port of Miami is an ''eyesore'' that has always fascinated him because of its man-made history and vast potential. Leon, who is Cuban American, said he felt FIU should include Havana's Malecón, because it carries so much potential. He said it represents a cornerstone of the city's history and could be a catalyst for that city's eventual renovation.

This project is not related to the Havana master plan unveiled last year by FIU architecture professor Nicolas Quintana, who suggested a massive reconstruction of the Malecón, Leon said.


Goldemberg, who runs the digital design studio at the architecture school, said he hoped the presentation provoked debate and dialogue.

There's no question the proposed redesigns of the Port of Miami are provocative.

The students were working off the assumption that the port's main function, importing and exporting, would be ceded to another location such as Port Everglades. The industrial facilities would be replaced by hotels, casinos, marine stadiums and landscaping.

''It's really just a kind of envisioning exercise,'' Goldemberg said. ``It's an opportunity to help strengthen the idea of Miami for visitors.''

FIU...A Sleeping Giant Awakens

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