The Client and the City of Miami Beach challenged the design team to develop a project that was community oriented, lowered the density and intensity of a pre-existing approved project on the same site and contributed to the community; the result is a public park that completes the continuous boardwalk circumference of South Beach.
The design of the project coincided with the completion of the ULI and Harvard research reports relating to the issue of sea level rise. Miami Beach sits at the epicenter of the discussion regarding sea level rise. This project is intended to show how resilient a community Miami Beach can be. The park itself becomes that example, with Landscape Architecture as a green resiliency solution.
The design for the park includes a flood protection basin, a native planting palette, berms, green roofs and a system of elevated pathways which will be very important for Miami Beach in the future. This park will be the most resilient project ever built in a coastal community anywhere up and down the eastern or western seaboards.
The Park on Fifth: Landscape as a solution
Where once there were empty and degraded lots, a new development of glass and steel with nearly 2-acres of private park and roof gardens and 3-acres of public park for people and wildlife will become part of the new Miami Beach skyline. It will improve the city’s air, clean and slow storm water, cool the urban heat island, reduce energy, and water use, and provide critical habitat support for wildlife in the fragmented ecosystem.
In a seamless blending of landscape with architecture, intimate with grand, relaxation with excitement, and refined detailing with contemporary wilderness, this multi-level exterior environment will set a new standard for urban lifestyle landscapes. The public landscape areas improve health and emotional well-being through physical and visual access by residents, employees and visitors. Visually accessible planted roofs offer soothing views for occupants of the complex and surrounding developments.
Even on roof decks, large plant beds with diverse, naturalistic plant groupings foster strong horizontal root growth that can develop into complete living plant and soil communities. The park includes an exceptional collection of regional plant communities representing the indigenous ecosystems of the Coastal Dune Maritime Forrest, saltwater marsh, and mangrove forest. Broad palettes for each plant community include keystone canopy, shrub, and groundcover species. Mixed ages, sizes and arrangements of these species mimic natural vegetative clusters. Rather than broad swaths of a single plant species, the park’s wide range of species maximizes diversity and resiliency and provides opportunities to test the viability of species that are rarely highlighted in urban landscapes. Restoring or recreating native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity, and this project provides a high-profile opportunity for people to visit with ecosystems they might not otherwise encounter. Landscapes like this are part of the city’s rich mosaic and can become part of ongoing education and research activities.
The functional, connected city
In the dense urban center, all parts of a development must be fashioned to be part of the solution, and landscape architects have a critical role to play. Safe and elegant streetscapes, diverse, accessible retail and entertainment, residential and hotel amenity decks, elevated open-air restaurants, and bridges that span the blocks – all combine to form a new kind of “central park” to anchor the city. Facilitating human patterns and connections in ways that are pleasant and efficient is critically important. The Park on Fifth creates connections at the level of the street for pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles; via the elevated pathways where pedestrians can flow freely without risk from vehicular circulation.