Good Urban Design Losing in Miami Beach

Good Urban Design Losing in Miami Beach

OMA’s Proposal

For months separate developer/design teams led by internationally acclaimed architects Rem Koolhaas and Bjarke Ingels have been creating competing visions for the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center and the surrounding 52-acres in the heart of Miami Beach. The competition for the $1.1 billion project was scheduled to reach a climax later this month, when the city was expected to choose one of the two designs to pursue.

Instead, City Manager Jimmy Morales this week announced the city might ditch the entire process. Mr. Morales proposed a radical downsizing, removing residential units from the plan and decreasing the retail space, in favor of a stripped-down convention center and hotel project.

In other words, Miami Beach invited top developers and designers to town and now they’re going to show them a little small town urban planning, Florida style. They appreciate all that smart talk and fancy drawings, but they’ve decided, gosh darn, that’s not what they want, after all.

The developers and design teams were given a deadline to decide if they want to continue.

Why would they? Good urban planning requires bold ideas, clear directions and experienced hands. Miami Beach is illustrating none of the above by radically shifting the ground rules after months of planning and debate.