As reported online 9 months ago, West 8 opened their first U.S. landscape design in Miami Beach, Florida. The park plays counter part to Frank Gehry’s unclad and reposed Music School and complements both the architect, the city and the client brilliantly. The 2.5 acre (1 hectare) park serves as a gathering space for the city of Miami Beach and maintains an open and inviting entry to the New World Symphony and successfully parallels the tropical and contemporary art culture the city is renowned for.
Giant steel pergolas with bright pink bougainvilleas act as place markers that draw the user in on three sides.
In plan, the pathways immediately strike a cord as artistic, but made me skeptical of its walkability with the sporadic pathways. But upon visiting the site, the scheme and scale relaxed those concerns. A multitude of trails jet into the palm forest and allow both respite and convenience of travel. The jagged main pathways allow natural walking patterns without hesitation.
Miami Beach’s Art Deco style stucco concrete is evident in the curvature and abstract forms of Gehry’s architecture and West8’s seating profiles and segmented paths.
The seating walls are broken up by smooth egg shaped molds and come flush with an undulating lawn that is imperative to to add depth and intrigue to the flat South Florida landscape. The lawn terrain almost mirrors Frank Gehry’s famous draping facades.
Although the adolescent bougainvilleas have yet to fill out their horn shaped pergolas, this leaves the shadowy web to create patterns on the entry plaza concrete.
The Montgomery Palm, Vietchia montgomeryana. supplies dappled shade all over the park while not compromising visibility with their slender tall trunks. In other areas, sculptural oak tree groupings provide full shade and a more private lawn seating area.
Aside from being a foyer and plaza space for the New World Symphony, the park provides outdoor screening of musical and movie events with a state-of-the-art projector and acoustic ‘ballet bars’. The bars contain speakers and wiring and also, demarcate the main amphitheater lawn.
In sum, Soundscape’s use of program and circulation seamlessly connects the symphony and the vibrant culture of Miami Beach.
Further reading and analysis
May 2012 Edition of LAM
The Architect’ Newspaper A/N – New World Symphony by Frank Gehry