A healthy city calibrates and makes room for mobility changes on their streets over time to encourage low-tech safe and accessible options to move around. It needs to provide more balanced mobility options by reconsidering the amount of space for cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and transit - accommodating new technologies and trends.
Plusurbia's Andrew Georgiadis participated in a panel hosted by ADIT Brasil on Wednesday, May 28, called Live4 PandeBuilding as a series of PandeBuilding or 'Building Cities in or after the pandemic' conducted by Saulo Suassuna, President of Molegolar, a Brazilian Development Firm headquartered in Recife.The panelists were Mauricio Duarte Pereira of Jan Gehl, Copenhagen, Margarida Caldeira, Chair of the Americas Board and Broadway Malyan, from Lisbon (also discussed experiences from the Shanghai office), and Andrew Georgiadis, of PlusUrbia, Sarasota/Miami Florida.The topics included the immediate effects of lockdown and disruptions upon business, schools, purchases, and day to day life and how architecture and urban design was thwarting or helping efforts to adapt to the new constraints.  Then, the panelists discussed needed reforms to the built environment, including repurposing public spaces, rediscovery of vernacular building techniques, and how mixed-use and flexible building types will be increasingly relevant.Listen to the panel discussion below!
Magic City mobility leaders are questioning the city's response to active transportation during the pandemic.By Marcia Duprat | May 19, 2020[caption id="attachment_4010" align="alignnone" width="800"] Bike racks were made inaccessible in parks across Miami in an ill-advised response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Marcia Duprat[/caption]It started with the closing of bike shops.Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 shutdown deemed auto supply and repair shops essential — but forced the closure of bike shops. It set the stage for what has become an ongoing string of questionable policy decisions — decisions that, over time, have cemented an image of Miami as a place where car ownership affords you protection, while using greener, more socially responsible modes of transportation, like bicycles, puts you at a disadvantage.With traffic at an all-time low, we have been afforded a brief vision of a Miami without cars, forcing us to reconsider our relationship with our hostile streets. Miamians are embracing a new normal where walking and biking is safer than usual. Moreover, with public transportation undergoing service reductions and experiencing crowding, bikes are a far safer option for many of the 90,000 households in the county who do not own a car.Yet, the local government’s response to the crisis has unfortunately discouraged cycling as a solution.Parks recently reopened with an unusual caveat: while parking lots remain open, the use of bike racks is prohibited. Most U.S. cities are doing exactly the opposite, banning car parking as a measure to control crowding, thereby making parks available to neighboring residents within walking and biking distance. Miami Beach was forced to learn this the hard way when it had to close one of its most iconic parks, South Pointe, less than a week after reopening.Miami-Dade is also the only county nationwide to ban both shared bikes and shared scooters. Meanwhile, in cities from Tampa to Los Angeles, scooter- and bike-sharing companies have been offering free and low-cost trips to essential workers, taking steps to increase the frequency of sanitation, and adapting their service boundaries to be centered around the areas with the most urgent transportation needs, such as medical centers. Instead of deploying a variety of modes of transportation as a way to ease mobility during the crisis, our local government has continued the ban, putting those without a vehicle at a disadvantage.Our most vulnerable residents often face the severest effects of these policies. Until recently, food distribution occurred exclusively in drive-through settings. All current coronavirus testing sites except two still require a car. At a time when residents are facing grave economic consequences, policymakers continue to send a clear signal: keep your car payment.For decades Miami-Dade County has been overrun by policymaking that puts cars above every other mode of sustainable transportation. With traffic at an all-time low, now is the perfect opportunity to create safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists and a more sustainable future. Cities nationwide have been adapting their streets to accommodate social distancing, dedicate more space to outdoor restaurant seating, and expedite infrastructure projects such as wider sidewalks and new bike and bus lanes. But Miami is lagging behind or entirely absent from these trends, and car-focused road construction projects are being expedited. If this continues, the city is set to emerge from this crisis more car-dependent than before.The stakes are high – and human. Restaurant workers returning to their jobs on bicycles. Nurses relying on transit after 12-hour shifts. Communities where park space is already lacking, locked in by dangerous streets. Our actions as we recover from this crisis can shape the city we want to move towards. In ordinary times, we strive for mobility to be the great equalizer – granting access to opportunities that can change people’s lives for the better. Amidst this crisis, we have to ensure the opposite doesn’t happen – that communities that have been left behind are connected, literally, to our recovery efforts with new pedestrian, cycling, and transit efforts.Elected leaders and administrators need to take a hard look at how cities have adapted with policies that foster a present and a future where bicycling and safer, sustainable mobility is part of the solution – rather than the problem.This article is authored by. Marcia Duprat is the Campaign Manager at Transit Alliance, a non-profit advocating for walkable streets, bikeable neighborhoods, and better public transit in Miami-Dade County. It is co-signed by the following: The League of American Bicyclists, Bill NesperBike Coconut Grove, Hank ResnickBike SoMi, Maricé ChaelDover, Kohl & Partners, Victor DoverKittelson & Associates, Fabian De La EspriellaPlusurbia Design, Juan MulleratPlease click here to view the full article online.
Plusurbia's Puerto Rico Office, in collaboration with Santurce Nuestro Barrio, organized the second virtual Junte Multimodal on Wednesday, May 13th, led by the firm's Mobility Leader, David Soto.The panel discusses methods to use technology and adapt public community engagement to the current challenging times.Panel participants include:Javier de Jesús Martínez, NeeukoSalomé Ramírez Vargas, Nuestro BarrioDavid Soto, Plusurbia DesignRicky Angueira, Jarett Walker & Assoc.To see the discussion on Facebook, click on the following link: Junte Multimodal Virtual No. 2
BY PHILIP KUSHLAN AND VICTOR DOVERMAY 12, 2020 01:38 PM , UPDATED MAY 12, 2020 05:21 PM[caption id="attachment_3976" align="alignnone" width="933"] A southbound view of Southwest 157th Avenue running next to the Bird Basin Park, the proposed route of the 836 State Road extension in Miami-Dade County. PEDRO PORTAL PPORTAL@MIAMIHERALD.COM[/caption] The recent court ruling against the proposed State Road R836 Tollway extension into the Everglades should be the death knell for this ill-conceived waste of taxpayer and toll payer money. The judge ruled, based on evidence and testimony taken over an eight-day trial, that the project would do more harm than good.We believe that Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority should accept the ruling and move on.For years, MDX claimed that the tollway extension was the answer to traffic congestion in West Kendall. It insisted the extension would ease congestion while protecting environmental resources. But Suzanne Van Wyck, an administrative law judge for Florida, found both claims to be false. She ruled that the extension would provide only “meager” congestion relief. She found “no support” for the claim that the new tollway would improve “the commute time to downtown and other employment centers.” The judge also found that, worse, extending the tollway would exacerbate congestion on existing SR 836. She wrote, “Commuters will drive 13 miles, outside of the [urban development boundary], through active agricultural lands, through environmentally-sensitive lands, and through the West Wellfield, only to connect with the existing expressway operating at [a level of service] lower than it operates at today.”While County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and MDX have extolled express bus service to be included on the extension, Van Wyck found no evidence that such facilities would actually be used. She found the Tollway would not, as the county’s land-use plan requires, “shift the travel mode” in that part of the county “from single occupancy vehicle to mass transit.”She also found that, contrary to MDX’s claims, the agencies responsible for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration projects to which the Tollway poses an enormous threat, had not approved the Tollway. Each of those agencies — the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Department of the Interior — have actually raised major concerns about building a highway through sensitive Everglades wetlands. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has said that the Tollway would pose substantial and unacceptable adverse secondary impacts on the Greater Everglades. Van Wyck ruled the county’s decision to approve the Tollway without these agencies’ approval violated the law.She also found that the Tollway extension would destroy wetlands critical to threatened or endangered species and conflict with the county’s policy to protect and enhance areas that recharge the West Wellfield. She specifically held that the extension “creates a risk of contamination to the [county’s drinking water] wellfields.” Based on the judge’s rulings, it is impossible to see how the federal and state wetland and endangered species permits this project would require could ever be legally obtained.Trials have a way of sifting spin from fact. The county and MDX were granted every opportunity to put on their strongest case in support of the extension. The trial proved that the extension’s claimed benefits are illusory while its environmental harms are real and unavoidable.There is hope. During the hearing, evidence was presented by urban planner Juan Mullerat of PlusUrbia regarding the feasibility of mass-transit solutions using rights-of-way on Southwest 137 Avenue to connect segments of the county’s SMART plan. While no silver bullet exists, and the wisest approach is a zealous and fully funded implementation of the SMART Plan, smaller, less ambitious, but collectively meaningful transit and road and signalization improvements could, in the meantime, provide initial congestion relief.It is time for MDX, which already has squandered more than $7 million on consultants to plan this ill-advised attempt to meet modern transportation needs with another car-oriented highway, to pull the plug on the project. The Miami–Dade County Commission should do the same by repealing the comprehensive-plan changes that have now been found to violate the law. We call upon the County Commission and the MDX Governing Board to withdraw all applications seeking approval for the SR 836 Tollway Extension, to cease all planning for the expansion and to declare the proposal explored, rejected and withdrawn.Philip Kushlan is president of Friends of the Everglades. Victor Dover is a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Click here to read or listen to the full article online.
Part I: Coming HomePlease click on the viewer below to open the presentation and use the keyboard arrows to navigate:Since December 2019, under the direction of the Miami City Commissioner, the City Planning Department, Plusurbia, and the C-Street Collaborative have been working to implement the Wynwood North Community Vision Plan. The plan contemplates a variety of solutions to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents.While the Planning Department studies long-term strategies for community reinvestment, the Wynwood Community Enhancement Association (WCEA) has been simultaneously implementing immediate solutions in the neighborhood, like alleyway restoration, community beautification, and implementing the grant for home improvements.These efforts will ultimately work together to create a 'Coming Home' moment for all in the Wynwood Norte community.Below are some selected slides from the full presentation:    
Plusurbia's Puerto Rico Office, in collaboration with Muévete en Bici Puerto Rico, organized the first virtual Junte Multimodal on Thursday, April 23rd, led by the firm's Mobility Leader, David Soto-Padín.The panel discusses the impact of COVID-19 on sustainable transport in Puerto Rico and how cities around the world are responding to this emergency.Panel participants include:Ylenia González, Muévete en Bici PRDavid Soto Padín, Plusurbia DesignRicky Angueira, Jarett Walker & Assoc.To see the discussion on Facebook, click on the following link: Junte Multimodal Virtual No. 1 
ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS IN A TIME OF PANDEMICSAn accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on your property can serve as housing for front line staff and medical professionals who can't go home during this crisis. If you own an ADU, reach out and help!PEOPLE STREETSLimiting the circulation of cars enables the creation of “people streets” for essential workers and grocery shoppers to accomplish their daily needs while maintaining social distancing #OpenStreets  HAPPY EARTH DAYHappy Earth Day! Air pollution has already decreased due to less vehicle use during this crisis. Let's work together and redesign our cities to keep this going! #earthdayeverydayVideo possible with Google EarthURBANISM AND THE IMPACTS OF CORONAVIRUSBUILD PARKLETS. SAVE OUR RESTAURANTS.EXTENDING SIDEWALKS FOR OUTDOOR SEATING[video width="720" height="404" mp4="https://plusurbia.com/wp-content/uploadsold/2020/04/20200521-Extending-Sidewalks-Plusurbia-sm.mp4"][/video] WORLD BICYCLE DAYLet's continue to promote the use of bicycles to improve the environment and our physical and mental health. All places should build the necessary infrastructure to ensure people are safe when riding a bike. #TransformMobility #WorldBicycleDayADAPTING FOR COVID19: EMBRACING MIAMI'S VENTANITAS + PARKLETS!
The city’s development boom has finally caught up to a lush haven of shade trees and cafes. Some worry the neighborhood growth is too fast.[caption id="attachment_3857" align="alignnone" width="864"] CocoWalk, an open-air mall in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, is scheduled to reopen this year after a makeover. Angel Valentin for The New York Times[/caption]By Jane MargoliesMarch 24, 2020, 9:00 a.m. ETWith its profusion of parks and shade trees, Coconut Grove is celebrated for being one of the greenest parts of sun-baked Miami.It has some of the best schools in the city, drawing students from all over the metropolitan area. And it has long been a magnet for artists, writers and musicians who have given the neighborhood a bohemian vibe.But lately, Coconut Grove has become known for yet another thing: a real estate boom.The area did not experience much of the pre-recession wave of development that swept other Miami neighborhoods. But now, luxury residential towers by renowned modernist architects have been rising in Coconut Grove along Biscayne Bay, a snazzy hotel recently opened, and a well-known shopping center is getting a makeover.And boutique office buildings are going up, attracting brand-name tenants in the tech, finance and creative industries.The office square footage is a small fraction of that of nearby Brickell or downtown Miami, but the development is occurring in an area under six square miles, much of it zoned for low- and midrise construction.The fast pace of growth and gentrification is pushing out longtime residents. And it is raising a question about the neighborhood’s identity: Can the Grove grow without losing its groove?Juan Mullerat, the founding principal of PlusUrbia Design, which worked with Perkins & Will, a global design firm, on a master plan for the business improvement district a few years ago, expressed concern about vacant storefronts.In some cases, short-term investors may be sitting on properties, waiting for their value to rise before flipping them. Some owners are offering only short-term leases, Mr. Mullerat said, “making it difficult for businesses to make investments in their stores.”Follow the link to read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/business/miami-coconut-grove-development.html
February 20, 2020by Travis DagenaisEach December, the art world descends on Miami Beach for Art Basel’s American installment, Design Miami. In late 2018, Cuban-American artist Xavier Cortada wanted to loop a social statement into the cresting euphoria.Cortada created blue and green yard signs; each listed a number, designating how many feet of sea level rise would submerge a given property in his Pinecrest Gardens neighborhood. He incorporated designs from “Ice Paintings,” an artwork he had completed in Antarctica that was composed of sediment from melting glaciers.[caption id="attachment_3798" align="alignleft" width="446"] Artist Xavier Cortada's studio in Pinecrest, with an “Underwater HOA” sign indicating how much sea rise will submerge the property[/caption]Cortada and his neighbors staked these signs in their front yards, and with that, his Underwater HOA project punctuated Design Miami with a reminder of looming danger. “By mapping the crisis to come, I make the invisible visible,” Cortada says. “Block by block, house by house, neighbor by neighbor, I want to make the future impact of sea level rise something no longer possible to ignore.”Among American cities, Miami emerges as a particular case study in how and where we will house people as climate pressures mount. Its famous beaches and waterfront condominiums will struggle with sea level rise in the next 50 years—and inland regions will feel pressure, too, as coastal residents search for dry ground. Already, salt water routinely floods Miami’s streets and bubbles up in family yards, permeating the porous limestone bedrock deep underground. While basements and garages flood, developers proceed headfirst into seaside condo projects.As temperatures, oceans, and anxieties rise, might designers help anticipate—and adapt to—what is now considered the inevitable? In Miami and Miami Beach, what will happen to neighborhoods, like Cortada’s, expected to be underwater within their residents’ lifetimes? Can new buildings, and new strategies, emerge from competing dialogues?Stoked by this dilemma, Harvard Graduate School of Design professors Eric Höweler, an architect, and Corey Zehngebot, an urban designer and architect, organized a GSD investigation into issues of housing, resilience, and adaptability, using Miami as an urban laboratory. Their investigation, the Fall 2019 option studio “Adapting Miami: Housing on the Transect,” engaged a cohort of 12 GSD students in months of research, site visits, and critical review.Students generated housing-focused proposals that offer a portrait of Miami’s risks and opportunities. They collaborated with and drew research insights from a concurrent seminar led by Jesse M. Keenan, recognized as a leading researcher on questions of climate and real estate; he has worked to shape a global discourse on the relationship between climate change, social equity, and applied economics.The geographical and conceptual heart of their study is a periscopic transect of the city created by two of Miami’s most iconic streets—Flagler Street to the north, and 8th Street, also known as Calle Ocho and the Tamiami Trail, to the south—which bracket a swath of Miami's fabric, cutting westward from the City of Miami’s high-density eastern coastline, through Little Havana, West Miami, and Tamiami, and into the Florida Everglades. This transect captures a range of natural ecosystems and urban conditions while representing the constraints of Miami’s built and natural environments: hard boundaries of high-density urban development at some edges (east, north, and south) and water everywhere else—the Everglades to the west, the Atlantic to the east.It is along and between these corridors where interesting opportunities for different housing typologies emerge, opportunities that are intertwined with mobility, streetscape design, density, infrastructure, ecology, resiliency, and adaptation, Zehngebot observes.[caption id="attachment_3799" align="alignnone" width="947"] For the studio's December 2019 final review, participants organized their projects along a model of the full Flagler/Calle Ocho transect[/caption]“We are invoking the transect in order to provoke a concept rooted in the New Urbanist ideology of Andreas Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zybek, whose firm is appropriately based in Miami,” Zehngebot says. “We are appropriating the transect from the New Urbanists just as they appropriated it from ecology and environmental planning because it is a useful framework for understanding the transition from urban to rural and how might housing typologies manifest themselves at different moments or zones along a streetscape continuum. This is further complicated in Miami, a city that feels the effects of water from all sides, and whose areas further from the coast are counterintuitively more vulnerable where the water is coming not from the sea, but from the ground.”With the constraints of space and time, and the limits of human and financial resources, where might there be opportunities to rethink how we plan the buildings, cities, and regions of the future?An American City’s Formative Years: The Legacy of the AutomobileAs American cities go, Miami is young. The City of Miami was officially incorporated in 1896 and named for the Miami River—derived, in turn, from Mayaimi, the historic name of Lake Okeechobee and the Native Americans who had lived in the region for centuries. So-called lot-and-block development took hold of the city’s early planning, with civic infrastructure like transit and public space an afterthought.Despite its youth, Miami is a city with an organic relationship to change—natural, political, and otherwise. The city’s tradition is to live on or with water, and with nature. As the seas ebb and flow, so does Miami’s urban rhythm.But today, Miami’s freedom to change is increasingly constrained. It is arguably one of the few cities in the United States with a truly limited supply of land. Its 1920s-era “garden cities,” like Coral Gables, began percolating along the eastern shore and spread westward, growing more densely packed as they approached the Everglades. Now, out of necessity, the city is looking to move eastward back toward the sea, infilling its limited land with higher-density housing.With a renewed interest in fitting as many people as possible on limited land, many Miamians are realizing that the city’s traditional housing forms may no longer be sufficient. The single-family, low-rise house that dominates Miami’s urban fabric—a herald of the “American Dream”—may fail to sustain successive waves of younger, more transient citizens and new, expanded forms of family. Meanwhile, the high-rise towers that stand along the shoreline will be exposed to rising seas and stronger, more frequent storms. The modernist, Art Deco styles that flavor the city with clean, simple geometries don’t lend themselves to climate-resilient architecture, either.Compounding these pressures is the city’s lack of cohesive, holistic city planning. Miami offers a mix of vibrant, diverse communities, but they have competing municipal priorities and policies.Then there’s the legacy of the car. As Miami matured into the 1900s and the so-called era of the automobile, the car shaped the city’s spatial dimensions: long, straight avenues and single-family houses with driveways. One result is that rather than an urban center with spokes and connective tissues, Miami’s urban design resembles a large city composed of multiple, smaller cities—a sort of architectural accident.“Miami didn’t have the chance to develop without the impact of the automobile,” says Juan Mullerat, founder and director of urban design firm PlusUrbia. Among the projects that Mullerat and PlusUrbia have developed are Miami’s Little Havana Revitalization Master Plan and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Guidelines for the City of Miami. The firm’s work on Miami’s Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District earned the American Planning Association’s 2015 America’s Great Places Award.Overlooking a lush Little Havana tree canopy from PlusUrbia’s offices, Mullerat explains to the GSD studio that, in his native Spain and throughout Europe, cars and parking are considered amenities, like a swimming pool, rather than standard elements. When you allot less space for cars, he continues, you get more space for people. “The neighborhood itself becomes the amenity,” he says.As Mullerat guides the studio through neighboring Little Havana, MArch candidate Aria Griffin pays attention to a series of hulking parking garages, standing like monuments to a car-centric history—unavoidable, but also largely unused. She’s wondering if residents might benefit from something other than parking.Griffin’s concurrent research on medical care had led her to the conclusion that, in essence, hospitals are the most expensive form of housing in the nation. She turned this equation into opportunity by proposing a mid-rise tower, containing both housing and a hospital, at the corner of 12th Avenue and Flagler Street in East Little Havana. Griffin proposes replacing the currently existing Walgreens with the tower, also modifying the current on-grade, covered parking lot surrounding the store in order to generate a friendlier streetscape.      Final model of Aria Griffin's proposed project Griffin’s project would work to combat issues of loneliness and disenfranchisement in addition to promoting healthier living for those most at-risk ahead of the climate disasters expected to loom in Miami’s future: the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless.“I knew I wanted to propose a project that would provide housing, integrated health services, as well as public space to East Little Havana,” Griffin says. “I believe that such institutions must be integrated in the city’s fabric to better serve its communities.”Griffin observed other considerations at play. Building inland helps defray flood risk—a theme observed throughout the studio’s investigation—while the character of East Little Havana, marked by a lively streetscape and vibrant community life, makes it appealing for residents. She also addressed questions of mobility and accessibility issues. Rather than densifying the entire Calle Ocho corridor with a transit line, she instead prioritized nodal transit connections that would improve circulation.[caption id="attachment_3803" align="alignnone" width="948"] Mullerat and Griffin chat during the studio's final review, December 2019[/caption]Westward down the transect, MArch candidate Don O’Keefe saw a similar opportunity locked within the Florida International University (FIU) campus. Three large parking decks greet visitors at FIU’s main entrance. By replacing these with low-rise but high-density housing, O’Keefe aims to transform FIU into a transit- and pedestrian-oriented community in which student housing, classrooms, and public space is intermingled.As Griffin seeks to integrate medical infrastructure with housing—literally and conceptually—O’Keefe sees a parallel opportunity with higher education, a staple of Miami’s economy. O’Keefe’s project also anticipates coming storms, with housing designed to be adaptable: classroom and public spaces allow for the expansion of FIU's existing so-called “Living Learning Community” scheme. Meanwhile, common areas within the dorms could be flexibly rearranged and partitioned for use as overflow housing for nearby residents in the case of disaster, expanding FIU's existing policy on neighborhood assistance during major storms.[caption id="attachment_3804" align="alignleft" width="300"] O'Keefe's master plan shows one stage in the campus development. New buildings shield the massive existing parking deck from surrounding neighborhood and establish a new pedestrian oriented street grid.[/caption]Removing parking, though, reignites long-standing questions over mobility and accessibility, especially for aging populations. The East Little Havana intersection of Calle Ocho and Flagler Street offers a snapshot: it throbs with commercial activity, but to get there, pedestrians need to cross the wide, constantly trafficked Seventh Avenue, a vestige of Miami’s car-centric urban design. Instead, Höweler asks the studio, could Flagler emerge as a transit corridor, facilitating urban nodal connections and opening Little Havana to greater mobility and connectivity?[caption id="attachment_3805" align="alignnone" width="896"] Don O'Keefe discusses the research behind his FIU proposal during the studio's final review, December 2019[/caption]This question speaks to how space and typology interact: why start at the scale of the house and scale upward from there instead of planning larger, more connective institutions or infrastructures first and embedding housing within? How does the urban fabric respond when cities and regions invert the scale at which they design?In Miami, questions like these intersect where so much of the city finds inspiration: at the water.Living with, and on, WaterMiami’s tropical climate invites comparison to cities like Bangkok and Singapore, where high-density buildings sit beside broad, rainforest-like public spaces. Accordingly, throughout Miami’s urban growth, buildings have been spaced far enough apart to enable air circulation between plots.Extra space around buildings, though, means less collective space for public commons—and today Miami, like many American cities, is renewing its interest in public space. A trio of GSD students saw Miami’s city waterfront, where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay, as an opportunity to add public space at the water.With their proposal, “Loop Within,” Adam Jichao Sun, Pengcheng Sun, and Shunfan Zheng pursued the chance to connect Miami more with nature, and to symbolically and literally unify water with people. They also wanted to experiment with the concept of a “vertical city,” extending the concept of high-rise towers into a more urbane and public, rather than cloistered, experience.“Loop Within” presents three high-rise towers on top of an undulating podium, with a single, publicly accessible walkway connecting the towers at varying heights, forming a continuous physical loop within the building. The walkway would be accessed by an oblique elevator facing the Miami River waterfront, as well as an elevated railway station at the project’s podium platform. The platform itself, with its physical ebbs and flows, navigates people from the river walk upward toward cultural and other public programming within the towers.[caption id="attachment_3806" align="alignleft" width="217"] Section plan for “Loop Within”[/caption]The proposal’s connectivity works at the master-plan scale as well. Rather than an enclave-type development, “Loop Within” bridges what are currently segmented city blocks to generate a connected river-walk experience. Cultural programming is distributed at nodes along the waterfront in the interest of creating a destination out of the waterfront.“Articulated as a cultural loop, our proposal emphasizes physical accessibility and visual attraction to the urban context,” the team writes. “The juxtaposition of public and private development, as well as a broad spectrum of dwelling units, renders the super-block into a ‘city within one building’ concept.”The team also sensed the needs that building projects in Miami must resolve—namely, limited housing and rising seas. “Loop Within” fills the bulk of its towers’ interiors with housing, while the walkway’s physical infrastructure includes a seawall to mitigate flood risk.[caption id="attachment_3807" align="alignnone" width="963"] Juan Mullerat interrogates “Loop Within” during the studio's final review, December 2019[/caption]“Loop Within” stands as a bit of a metaphor for Miami today: incorporating both people and water, it synthesizes questions of economics, culture, and the risks of the future, pulling them together in new ways to make or suggest new forms of city-making. With a sense of temporality and adaptability baked into the design, the project both represents and responds to the city’s relationship with change. It also pivots away from the possessive, land-centric model of previous real estate development.[caption id="attachment_3808" align="alignleft" width="270"] “Loop Within” would offer a spectrum of housing-unit types[/caption]“The project’s dynamic relationship with water is largely achieved by articulating its podium as one undulating typography with programmatic flexibility under different water height conditions,” the team observes. “The undulating surface presents a welcome gesture to the potential sea-level rise and unveils different modes of flow: flow of water, and flow of people. Both the existing multi-ground-level condition and the potential sea-level rise spontaneously render the feasibility of a ‘vertical city’ that dynamically interacts with the water.”Colleague Yuebin Dong, an MAUD candidate, offered a complementary project that would extend this symbolism further: a school on the water. Currently existing KLA Kindergarten and Elementary School, near Brickell City Center, has been threatened with demolition; in maintaining its physical presence, Dong advocated for civic democracy, prioritizing education among the various features of Miami’s iconic waterfront while also building in spaces that could double as public amenities, like a library or a gymnasium.Water presents opportunity in Miami, but also threat—and inland regions will feel the pressure, too.MArch candidate Grace Chee followed the transect to its Everglades terminus, arguing that development into the Everglades is inevitable in the near future, as suggested by the proposed expansion of the Urban Development Boundary in Miami-Dade’s 2020/30 Land Use Plan. Her proposal, “Sub-Urbia,” proposes an environmentally responsible model of housing development that minimizes disruption to the natural ecology and explores the implications of living in a state of both suspension and floatation. She drew design inspiration from traditional housing in the Mekong floating villages of Vietnam, seeking to replicate the complex and ephemeral relationships between different housing types within the village, with varying degrees of permanence and attachment to land.“With its daily and seasonal tidal fluctuations, the marshland provides an opportunity to create a prototype for amphibious living in Miami in response to rising sea levels, one that also offers an alternative suburbia to that which lies on the other side of the UBD,” Chee writes.Fellow MArch candidate Kofi Akakpo brought a similarly critical eye to the relatively inefficient land usage of cemeteries, especially those located in urban cores where land is at an increasingly high premium. Thus, Akakpo’s studio proposal, “Can the Living Live with the Dead?,” reinvents the horizontal cemetery as vertical, a phenomenon already happening in countries like Brazil and India. With this reinvention, Akakpo asks another vital, if macabre, question: with cemeteries and other burial grounds, what happens to all of those bodies as water creeps inland?“Aside from the inefficient use of land that is ground burial in traditional cemeteries, as flood waters come and ground waters rise with the sea-level, we run the risk of a lot dead bodies, particularly from old caskets, siting within the water table, contaminating ground water sources,” Akakpo writes. “A lot of these bodies will have to be moved to protect our fresh water sources.” It's an observation that gets at some of the less-obvious but unquestionably threatening impacts of rising waters.[caption id="attachment_3809" align="alignnone" width="900"] A view across the retaining pond of Akakpo's proposal[/caption]Akakpo’s project would deliver a ring of housing, centered by publicly accessible green space and adjacent to a grid of vertical ossuaries into which bodies would be relocated from underground burial plots. A retaining pond at the middle of the ossuaries would provide both a slice of visual beauty, as well as a floodwater safety valve.Akakpo’s proposal highlights the reality that water may prove unstoppable, its march inland carries various layers of risk, and our waterfronts are hardly the only consideration at stake.Art as InstigatorIf Miami is shaped by water, it is fueled by art.Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood looks a lot more colorful, and welcomes many more visitors, than it did a decade ago. Abandoned lots and buildings have been transformed into a sort of ever-evolving outdoor museum, with masterfully designed graffiti art covering almost every available surface. Funky dining spots and retail shops have sprung up. Some would say Wynwood actually feels like a neighborhood. Its transformation started with little more than creativity and paint.[caption id="attachment_3810" align="alignleft" width="205"] Srebnick guides the studio around Wynwood Walls during the studio's September 2019 Miami visit[/caption]“Art is energizing, it creates a sense of place, and it brings people together,” says Jessica Goldman Srebnick as she guides the GSD studio through Wynwood Walls. Srebnick is founder and CEO of Goldman Global Arts, which operates Wynwood Walls; her father, Tony Goldman, collaborated with art curator Jeffrey Deitch to spark Wynwood Walls in 2009. In recent years, Srebnick started inviting graffiti artists from around the world—many of them never before exhibited—to color Wynwood, literally and otherwise.As Srebnick worked to make Wynwood a new Miami destination, businesses started paying attention. She turned down Starbucks and 7-Eleven and, instead, kept looking for talent from around the world who might want to bring their slice of creativity to Miami. Today, Srebnick and Goldman Global Arts welcome millions of visitors to Wynwood Walls each year, free of charge.[caption id="attachment_3811" align="alignnone" width="971"] Wynwood Walls. [Photo by BonzoESCFollow_. Available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)][/caption]The result is a neighborhood where, Srebnick says, you can feel a sense of place, not unlike New York’s SoHo or Los Angeles’s Arts District. “You see a lot of people wandering around Wynwood now,” Srebnick observes. “Art has made the neighborhood itself an amenity.” She adds that not a single Miami resident has been displaced in the process.Historically, Miami has lacked a single, unified cultural district, though the city’s cultural and artistic production is globally renowned. Streams of intense creative production and spirit thread through the city, and individuals like Srebnick have established their own sorts of pocket districts, which in turn attract business and cultural attention. It’s a pattern that jibes with the city’s generally laissez-faire, homegrown attitude toward city development.A few blocks north of Wynwood Walls, the Bakehouse Art Complex hums with a quiet focus. Bakehouse was founded by and for artists in 1986 and, with support from the City of Miami and Miami Dade County, transformed an industrial, Art Deco–era bakery in a then-blighted neighborhood into a home for talented artists, helping address the difficulty of finding space for creating and developing a practice.Now, more than 30 years later, Bakehouse is trying to maximize use of its 2.3-acre campus in the heart of Miami’s urban core to address the city’s affordability crisis, says acting director Cathy Leff. As a result of the organization’s access to and engagement with its community of artists, city officials, and surrounding neighborhood—as well as with Harvard GSD’s ongoing “Future of the American City” initiative—the organization is on a path to rezone its site to be able to add residential uses, specifically affordable housing for artists, Leff says.“If successful, Bakehouse can become a true cultural anchor in a multigenerational and multicultural community, embedded in and embraced by the community to become a more robust and public commons for critical discourse, community dialogue, and exchange,” Leff observes.MArch candidate Brian Lee saw such opportunity with the famed Miami–Dade County Auditorium, at the corner of West Flagler Street and 27th Avenue. Opened in 1951, the auditorium’s architecture shouts Art Deco revival, while the surrounding neighborhood bears vestiges of an automobile era: a relentlessly square grid that serves cars but complicates connectivity among the area’s art and cultural destinations and transit options. Lee saw an opportunity for greater neighborhood connectivity as well as higher-density housing.[caption id="attachment_3812" align="alignnone" width="980"] Presentation model of Brian Lee's proposal[/caption]Lee proposed a new theater to replace the auditorium after its lifespan, with a cap on parking spaces and a diagonal-cutting route that connects much of the area’s neighborhood development with local rapid-transit nodes. Housing would be integrated with Lee’s new auditorium, creating a courtyard that would double as an outdoor lobby.“More often than not, such multi-use developments are broken into their component parts, each of which is stacked or separated into large podium-tower configurations or segregated buildings,” Lee observes. “My project tries to challenge these types, by attempting to integrate the programs more closely so that residents can participate in this larger performance.”[caption id="attachment_3813" align="alignleft" width="260"] Brian Lee presents his reimagined Miami-Dade County Auditorium during the studio's final review, December 2019[/caption]In today’s Miami, art can offer a foundation, a catalyst, and a sustaining force for housing and sense of place. But art has also played the role of activist: the Bakehouse rose from the need to offer sustainable living for artists and their practices, while cultural institutions like Miami’s Knight Foundation have worked for decades to convene dialogue and programming that stirs debate and tackles urgent social and political issues. (Knight was founded by newspapermen seeking new ways to communicate and thus to stoke public awareness; as Knight’s Victoria Rogers observed during a panel discussion at Bakehouse, “engaged communities have always been critical to democracy.”)In parallel, themes of climate change and rising seas have permeated the Miami art world—as the activism of Cortada’s Underwater HOA exemplifies. Artists and designers like Cortada have emerged as powerful communicators to herald the urgency and possible solutions around Miami’s issues. With so many of the city’s famed institutions perched on the water, art, climate, and dialogue work together in a circular feedback loop, each informing and driving the others.The Immigrant Experience and the “New American Dream”In considering Miami’s waterfront as a democratic space, studio members emphasized a stitching together of segmented blocks. Indeed, throughout much of Miami’s urban fabric, segmentation and separation appear as rules—perhaps another vestige of the tropical-climate planning that favored spacing and subsequent air circulation, or more broadly of the city’s lack of holistic urban planning.Regardless of cause, one effect of physical segmentation is social and community isolation. Single-family homes and high-rise towers alike are generally private experiences with private or individual entrances, and lack of public spaces compounds this effect.For waves of immigrants and other newcomers, this urban fabric is hardly welcoming. Hua Tian and Jungeun Goo, both candidates for the MArch in Urban Design, and Haey Ma, an MLA candidate, saw this as a stimulus for a typology refresh.Tian’s “A Piece of Life: Collective Housing for New Immigrants” takes up the intersection of 8th Street and 12th Avenue. Marked by lively street life, authentic human interaction, and nearby public transit, it is also comprised of segmented, incoherent housing. She took inspiration from the architectural language of Havana, Cuba, to design a housing project incorporating repeated, arched facades and centered around a communal courtyard.[caption id="attachment_3814" align="alignleft" width="250"]
"The once predominantly Cuban enclave is changing fast, with Cubans moving out and high-rise developers trying to move in."Alan Gomez, USA TODAYUpdated 6:52 a.m. EST Jan. 31, 2020The USA TODAY Network series Hecho en USA, or made in America, focuses on the nation's growing Latino community. Roughly 80% of all Latinos living in the U.S. are American citizens, but media coverage of Hispanics tends to focus on immigration and crime, instead of how Latino families live, work and learn in their hometowns. Hecho en USA tells the stories of the nation’s 59.9 million Latinos – a growing economic and cultural force, many of whom are born in the U.S.MIAMI – Just past the row of Cuban restaurants, past the park where Cubans spend their days playing dominoes, past the crowing roosters and the Bay of Pigs Memorial, there's a cigar shop in the heart of Little Havana.Inside Casa del Tabaco, native Cubans spend their days rolling the cigars that have become as synonymous with the Cuban experience as rum, baseball and salsa dancing.But the tobacco leaves used to roll those iconic stogies hold a secret: The seeds are from Cuba, but the plants are grown in Nicaragua, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The store itself has another surprise: Its owner, René Diaz, isn't Cuban either. He's from Chile.That same dichotomy plays out on a larger scale throughout Little Havana. The once predominantly Cuban enclave has changed dramatically in recent years, and development threatens to plow over the historic neighborhood as the population has morphed into a hodgepodge of people from Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.[caption id="attachment_3763" align="alignleft" width="396"] Aleida Francisco and Rodolfo Amaro Beltrán, both native Cubans, create handmade cigars at Casa del Tabaco in Little Havana. The staff are all Cuban, but the owner, René Diaz, is from Chile and wants to keep the Cuban culture of Little Havana alive. "This is the closest they'll get to the Cuban culture without going to Havana," Diaz said.SANDY HOPPER, USA TODAY[/caption]            Little Havana isn't even majority-Cuban anymore. Officials estimate that the neighborhood of 60,000 is only about a third Cuban.Diaz said he met a lot of resistance from Cubans when he entered the cigar industry, more so when he opened his store in the middle of Little Havana last year. He made clear that he wants to preserve the Cuban rhythm of the neighborhood to honor its history – and to make sure tourists keep coming."This is the closest they'll get to the Cuban culture without going to Havana," he said.[caption id="attachment_3767" align="alignright" width="634"] SOURCE maps4news.com/©HERE[/caption]Little Havana, which is set to receive a fresh wave of tourists as Miami hosts Super Bowl LIV, is a microcosm of the shifts in immigration felt throughout the country and the race to revitalize – or gentrify – urban cores.Cubans once made up the majority of immigrants in Miami, but the area has been flooded in recent years by immigrants from Central and South America. In the same way, Mexicans make up the majority of Latin American immigrants to the nation as a whole, but Central and South American migration has increased rapidly. In 1980, there were approximately 354,000 Central Americans living in the U.S. By 2017, that number had exploded to more than 3.5 million, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, changing the makeup of cities big and small across the country.That trend can be seen clearly in a three-block stretch of the historic Calle Ocho that cuts through the middle of Little Havana. There's a Honduran restaurant, a Salvadoran one, a Mexican one, even a Colombian-Nicaraguan restaurant that serves food from both countries.Marcia Romero, 58, moved into the area 18 years ago from her native Nicaragua because she knew it was a friendly place for immigrants. Back then, it was all Cuban. Now?South Florida’s immigrant Hispanic population shifts during three decades[caption id="attachment_3769" align="alignnone" width="532"] SOURCE Pew Research Center[/caption]"This one is Honduran, this one is Honduran; across the street, there is a Salvadoran family," Romero said outside the small house she rents with her son and grandson. "Oh, wait, that house is still Cuban."When the owners of Mi Rinconcito Mexicano opened in Little Havana 13 years ago, critics questioned whether it could survive in the Cuban community. The restaurant thrived, employing workers from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Cuba."That's the beauty of Miami," said Jocelyn Mendoza, the manager at Mi Rinconcito who is originally from Mexico. "People come here and adopt each other's traditions." "That's the beauty of Miami. People come here and adopt each other's traditions."                           -Jocelyn Mendoza, manager at Mi Rinconcito MexicanoSady Guerra, 29, a construction worker from Honduras who arrived in the U.S. last year with his wife and daughter to request asylum, said he thought he would land in an area dominated by Cubans. After getting to know his new neighborhood, he realized how much had changed."Maybe it's time to change the name," he joked. "Little Havana worked back then, but now, it's so mixed, that doesn't really apply anymore."The fact that Little Havana's demographics are changing represents the latest evolution in the neighborhood's history.Little Havana, the heart of the Cuban-American community in Miami, is no longer majority Cuban. Locals are fighting development to save their history.SANDY HOOPER, USA TODAYLittle Havana not as Cuban as it used to be, but clinging to cultureThe area was first populated by Southern Americans willing to take a risk and move to swampy South Florida shortly after it was founded in 1896. The neighborhood transitioned into a working-class Jewish enclave, filled with transplants from New York and other northern cities.As those Jewish residents moved up the economic ladder, they moved out to newer suburbs developed on the western edges of Miami-Dade County. That exodus happened as Fidel Castro took over Cuba in 1959, which prompted hundreds of thousands of Cubans to flee his communist regime. So many of them landed in the homes vacated by the Jewish residents that it didn't take long before the neighborhood was dubbed Little Havana.[caption id="attachment_3777" align="alignnone" width="864"] Little Havana locals play dominoes in historic Domino Park, "a great gathering place for older Cubans," a Miami historian says. SANDY HOOPER, USA TODAY[/caption]"The table was set for them," said Paul George, the resident historian at HistoryMiami Museum.Most of those Cubans came empty-handed, their possessions confiscated by the Castro regime. That meant the neighborhood maintained its blue-collar feel, only with more Spanish spoken and plantains for sale.Cuban businesses and restaurants opened, people moved into the two- and three-story apartment buildings that fill the area, and in 1963, they started playing dominoes in a park that is still in operation."That's a great gathering place for older Cubans," George said. "Obviously, within this ethnic group, there's tremendous camaraderie, probably much more so than say the typical American who is sort of suburban-oriented."Just as the Jewish residents of Little Havana moved up and out, so did the Cubans.  As the years went on and they established themselves economically and politically, many moved to tonier neighborhoods west and south of the area.That left a gap that the immigrants from Central and South America quickly filled."Communities are organic things," said Carlos Fausto Miranda, a Cuban American real estate developer who is heavily invested in Little Havana. "They change and they evolve over time. Little Havana wasn't always Cuban, and it's less Cuban now, but that doesn't mean it's any less Cuban. These are not mutually exclusive ideas."That helps explain why Julio Cabrera picked Little Havana last year when he wanted to open a Cuban restaurant designed to capture the spirit of the legendary bars of pre-Castro Cuba. The renowned cantinero, or bartender, looked at all the hip, popular areas of South Florida and decided to open "La Trova" in Little Havana because he said the neighborhood is still the best embodiment of Miami's Cuban roots."The Cubans moved out, but the essence, the soul of Cuba remains here. That never left."-Julio Cabrera, a Cuba native who opened La Trova last year"The Cubans moved out, but the essence, the soul of Cuba remains here," said Cabrera, a Cuban native who emigrated to the U.S. 15 years ago.  "That never left."What that means for the future of Little Havana remains unclear as neighborhood leaders grapple between nostalgia and profit.For decades, the area has been neglected by city leaders, falling into a state of disrepair throughout the 1990s and 2000s. It experienced a resurgence in the past decade as more bars and restaurants opened, and double-decker tour buses made the neighborhood a regular stop on their tours of Miami.[caption id="attachment_3778" align="alignnone" width="874"] Construction lines Calle Ocho, a historical strip of Little Havana. SANDY HOOPER, USA TODAY[/caption]That drew the interest of real estate developers. Miami's biggest business, aside from tourism, has always been real estate.A couple of miles east of Little Havana along Calle Ocho sits the Brickell neighborhood, a towering collection of glass-covered, high-rise condominiums and office buildings. One by one, those gleaming towers supplanted the older buildings that made up Brickell's waterfront skyline, which looks nothing like it did when it featured prominently in the opening credits of "Miami Vice."Many worry that Little Havana will become "Brickell West" as developers pounce on the new financial opportunities."We don't want displacement. We don't want to move the people out of there," said Juan Mullerat, whose Plusurbia urban design firm created a master plan for the neighborhood last year. "You need to try and protect it as much as you can.""We don't want displacement. We don't want to move the people out of there. You need to try and protect it as much as you can."-Juan Mullerat, whose Plusurbia urban design firm created a master plan for the neighborhood last yearHolding off eager developers is difficult for a neighborhood that's received little attention from the city. According to Mullerat, the Miami government has conducted 23 planning studies since 1997 of the nearby Coconut Grove neighborhood, which features wealthier residents, high-rise condominiums and restaurants that cater to high-priced tourists.Over that same time, the city has conducted only one such plan for Little Havana: the master plan his firm published last year, which hasn't been adopted by the city.Part of the problem is that Little Havana remains a working-class neighborhood, where 80% of residences are occupied by renters and more than 87% of rental properties are priced at less than $1,000 a month, according to Mullerat's study. That's good news for Miami residents desperate for affordable housing, but it makes it difficult for residents to band together to pressure city leaders to ensure that remains the case.In 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Washington-based nonprofit group that works to preserve historic sites, listed Little Havana as one of its 11 most endangered historic places. The organization argued that the neighborhood faced "development pressure, demolition of historic buildings, displacement of existing residents, and zoning changes that could impact its affordability, cultural richness, and character."Locals say that threat remains. That's why Miranda and other real estate developers have tried to preserve Little Havana's identity on their own."You don’t need to come in here and bulldoze city blocks to build brand new sparkling businesses with ground-floor Chipotles and Starbucks," he said. "We’re showing, and we’re proving, that people thirst for authenticity and thirst for vibrant, urban environments."[caption id="attachment_3779" align="alignnone" width="857"] Historic Calle Ocho in Little Havana was once a predominantly Cuban neighborhood, but that's changed because of development and demographics. Cubans make up only a third of the population in Little Havana. SANDY HOOPER, USA TODAY[/caption]Bill Fuller, another developer, helped ignite the revitalization of Little Havana, reopening the Ball & Chain nightclub that was a fixture in the neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century but was closed for decades. He keeps his office a block away and owns and operates many of the commercial properties in the neighborhood.Though he calls himself an avowed free-market capitalist, he said other developers in the region know to keep their skyscrapers out of Little Havana."I know some of the developers that have built some of the stuff around us … and I've told them, 'Listen, you can build where you want, and I'm not going to put up the public battle, but if you come into these three blocks, you're going to hear from me,' " he said. To view the article online please follow the link below:https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/nation/2020/01/31/miamis-little-havana-no-longer-majority-cuban-but-roots-remain/4587792002/
 Plusurbia's Andrew Georgiadis was featured recently in an episode of Preferred Shore Real Estate podcast. The podcast features conversations about real estate. The owner of the podcast, Robert Milligan, interviews productive relators, lenders, attorneys and other service providers in order to offer tips to help people succeed in their careers. This episode is an interview with Andrew Georgiadis, who is trained as an architect and has devoted his life's work to urban design.Listen to the episode here! 
Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat was invited to participate as a juror for the final project review for a class taught by Eric Howeler and Corey Zehngebot at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The final projects focused on architecture and urbanism in Miami and addressed a broad range of topics that generated important conversations and solutions to the pressing issues the city is currently facing. The topics included housing, mobility, typology, community development, ecosystems, the public realm, climate adaptive architecture, immigration and assimilation, health care, and tourism.Below are pictures of the review by Justin Knight (@jakphotojustin):
November 18, 2019   More:We're Saving Places   By:Julia Rocchi  Thanks to supporters and advocates like you, we at the National Trust are celebrating a year with wide-ranging victories, from hands-on work that enlivened old buildings, to legal successes that strengthened protection, to creative thinking that re-interpreted, re-imagined, and re-invigorated places telling America’s full history.To mark the occasion, we’re spotlighting 12 of our proudest preservation moments that epitomize our movement’s dedication and determination—and they’re all made possible by your support.8. Little HavanaMiami, FloridaAn international symbol of the role of immigrants in the American story, Little Havana—named a National Treasure in 2017—is Miami’s most iconic neighborhood. Yet poverty, displacement, and other issues threaten this vibrant community, prompting the National Trust to create a road map for improving life for Little Havana’s residents while protecting this one-of-a-kind place.In partnership with local organizations led by PlusUrbia Design, and developed with input from more than 2,700 residents, stakeholders, and public health advocates, the award-winning revitalization plan focuses on building a healthy, equitable, and resilient neighborhood that retains its unique character. Drawing on best practices from a variety of fields, the plan increases incentives, lowers barriers, and respects the existing heritage of Little Havana. With this innovative tool in hand, Little Havana now has a path forward that will help future generations continue to thrive.
The first Camp about transportation and mobility in Puerto Rico was held at the University of Puerto Rico on Tuesday, November 5th. Several sessions were held in which attendees could propose topics for the conference and listen to the invited keynote speakers from abroad. It was a great opportunity to contribute to the improvement of mobility in Puerto Rico! 
The American Planning Association Gold Coast Chapter honored Plusurbia Design with three awards for our recent work. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with outstanding partners on the Little Havana Me Importa Plan, Coconut Grove Village Revitalization Plan and the Miami Tri-Rail Coastal Link TOD Plans. Congratulations to all that have worked so hard to make this happen. We are humbled and honored for this recognition and we pledge ourselves to continue designing better places, safer communities, and healthier cities. National Trust for Historic Preservation, City of Miami, Dade Heritage Trust, Urban Health Partnerships, @Live Healthy little Havana, Health Foundation of South Florida, Perkins and Will, Cesar Garcia-Pons, W Thomas/Tom Lavash, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, Dana P. Little, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority / Tri-Rail, William Moose, Robert Lloyd, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Francis X. Suarez, Peter Wood, Eileen Higgins, Christine Rupp, Maggie Fernandez, LEED Green Associate, Francisco García Iglesias
 Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat was honored at the first annual Calle Ocho News Community Champion Award Cocktail Party for Hispanic Heritage. The festive event honored many others who have worked tirelessly for the Hispanic community in Miami in the past few years, including Community Champion of the year, Miami-Dade County District 5 Commissioner Eileen Higgins. Mullerat's recognition comes after the unveiling of the Little Havana Revitalization Master Plan, a two-year effort to retain character, density, scale and affordability in Little Havana. The 2019 Community Champion awardees. Juan Mullerat with Commissioner Eileen Higgins. An image of the plaque awarded to Mullerat.
Plusurbia is excited to be a part of the team that worked on the community-led Master Planning effort for Wynwood Norte, the results of which were presented at a well-attended community meeting at Roberto Clemente Park on Thursday, September 19. Residents and community members gathered to see the outcome after months of working together to create a vision for the future of the neighborhood.To learn more about this project, please follow the link below:Wynwood Norte Community Vision Plan        Members of the Wynwood Community Enhancement Association (WynwoodCEA) with Steven Wernick and members of the Plusurbia team. Commissioner Keon Hardemon speaks at the community meeting for the Wynwood Norte Community Vision Plan.Images of Roberto Clemente Park, one of the special places within the Wynwood Norte neighborhood.
BY ANDRES VIGLUCCISEPTEMBER 19, 2019 06:30 PM, UPDATED SEPTEMBER 19, 2019 06:43 PMSandwiched in between bustling Midtown Miami, the ultra-upscale Design District and the sizzling-hot Wynwood arts district, residents of the other Wynwood — its overlooked working-class residential enclave — figure it won’t be long before the redevelopment wave smacks them full bore.So they’re already gearing up for it.Rather than wait for the forces of gentrification to strike, residents and property owners in the Wynwood barrio section have organized in anticipation of its arrival. They formed a broad-based association, hired a prominent planner to draw up a map to guide revitalization, and will lobby public officials for zoning and other reforms to make sure they benefit and don’t get overrun.To distinguish themselves from the hipsters’ Wynwood to the south, and to reaffirm their neighborhood’s Hispanic immigrant and Puerto Rican roots, they’ve also given it a new name:Wynwood Norte.The new name made its formal debut Thursday evening, when the year-old Wynwood Community Enhancement Association unveiled a comprehensive vision plan for the neighborhood. It runs between Northwest 29th and 36th Streets from Interstate 95 to Miami Avenue, in the heart of Miami’s historic urban core.The roughly 35-block area includes three public schools and the Bakehouse Art Complex, which is planning a major expansion, as well as hundreds of single-family homes, duplexes and small apartment buildings. It was home for decades to Puerto Rican and later Cuban and Central American workers who labored in the garment district in the warehouses and factory buildings south of Twenty-ninth Street — what everyone today knows as Wynwood — before the industry went into sharp decline in the 1980s.Organizers of the unusual effort say they hope it will allow the low-income community of about 4,200 residents, one of Miami’s poorest, to retain not just its low scale and neighborly feel, but its people, too, even as it draws desperately needed new investment, homes and families to a neighborhood that’s been wanting for years.“I’ve seen all the changes, the ups and downs,” said association member Will Vasquez, an Army veteran who grew up in Wynwood. He owns several rental properties there and spends most weekends at his 90-year-old father’s home in the neighborhood. “Things have taken a big turn for the good. New people, investors are coming in. I am very excited.”But, Vasquez added, longtime stakeholders like himself don’t want dramatic changes, and that’s why they’ve banded together now.I would like to see the neighborhood kept more residential,” he said. “I don’t want to see Midtown or high rises. We have enough of that. I would like to see Wynwood Norte have its own identity. We want to make Wynwood Norte a place where people can come visit, eat at a restaurant. Very friendly, very walkable. And we hope to encourage people to fix their homes.”RESIDENTS LEAD CHARGEThe initiative in Wynwood Norte was prompted in part as residents watched other nearby neighborhoods attempt to fight wholesale changes only after rents and displacement shot up or major projects were already announced. By getting ahead of the game, they hope to set a template for developers and avoid divisive battles like that over the massive and controversial Magic City Innovation District plan in Little Haiti.Wynwood Norte residents and property owners huddle with planning consultants during a public workshop in May at Jose de Diego Middle School. COURTESY PLUSURBIA DESIGN They were also inspired by property owners in the Wynwood arts district who organized a business improvement district and got the city to approve special new zoning rules that encourage development of apartments and shops and foster improvements in the public realm, but restrict the scale and mass of new construction to ensure compatibility with the existing aesthetic.Wynwood Norte residents and property owners enlisted the support of the one large developer that’s announced plans for a significant project in the neighborhood. In 2017, Texas-based Westdale Real Estate Investment Management bought a block of mostly rundown residential properties and obtained city zoning approvals for a plan to raze them and build a low-scale housing and retail complex aimed at a range of incomes, including so-called workforce housing.A Westdale partner is a Wynwood Norte association director. The firm paid for the neighborhood vision plan by Plusurbia Design, the Miami planning firm that also developed the award-winning Wynwood arts district zoning plan, as well as a community-driven master redevelopment plan for Little Havana.Steve Wernick, an attorney who has represented Westdale and has been involved in the Wynwood Norte effort as a consultant and volunteer, said the developer’s interests mesh with those of the neighborhood: to ensure compatible development that will enhance the value of its project and its chances of success.But he stressed the impetus and direction are coming from the community, including leaders of nonprofits and service agencies in the neighborhood, such as Bakehouse interim director Cathy Leff, who is an association leader.Separately but in coordination with the association’s initiative, the Bakehouse has worked with Wernick on a strategic plan to renovate its historic building, an Art Deco former industrial bakery that houses some 60 artists’ studios, and add affordable housing for artists.“There is no other neighborhood that is planning the way this community is, “ Wernick said. “The community is saying, ‘Things are going to change, so let’s plan for that change. How can we grow in an appropriate way that allows the community to stay?’“It’s an invitation to the city and the county and the school board to take a look at neighborhood, to work with the association to implement the community vision. It’s definitely a balanced approach.”The Bakehouse Art Complex, housed in a former industrial bakery, in the Wynwood Norte neighborhood. BAKEHOUSE ART COMPLEX NOT ITS HEYDAYWynwood Norte has seen better days.Many Puerto Rican garment and factory workers owned homes in the neighborhood’s heyday, earning it the nickname of Little San Juan. But most Puerto Ricans are long gone, replaced by Cubans and later Central Americans, though the borincano flavor remains, mostly in names of places and institutions taken from the island.The city park, which includes a baseball diamond, is named Roberto Clemente Park, after the Puerto Rican major-league hall of famer. The local Catholic church, Mission San Juan Bautista, takes its name from Puerto Rico’s patron saint and its architecture from the island’s Spanish Colonial period. El Jibarito food market, named after the island name for its peasants, is still a draw on the neighborhood’s main street, Northwest Second Avenue. José de Diego Middle School honors a leader of Puerto Rico’s movement for independence from Spain. The San Juan Bautista Catholic mission church in Wynwood sits just north of the block that a Texas developer wants to redevelop. GALERIA DEL BARRIO But the Puerto Rican community that gave rise to the historic names is mostly a thing of the past. As the garment industry declined and disappeared, so did the garment workers who lived in the neighborhood. As it declined, Wynwood was plagued by crime, gangs and drug trafficking. In 1988, days of rioting ensued after undercover police bludgeoned a neighborhood drug dealer to death.Today, much of the population is a transient one, planners say. Over 80 percent of Wynwood Norte residents are renters, the association’s study says, though the population is trending younger. The neighborhood is dotted by vacant lots where houses were demolished; about 10 percent of Wynwood Norte is vacant land. Much of the remaining housing stock is deteriorated, though a few homes have been renovated in recent years by new owners moving into the area.Wynwood Norte residents today are among the city’s poorest. The median household income in the neighborhood is $19,800, and the median rent is $672, according to city of Miami planners. Fully a quarter of dwellings are officially designated affordable housing, including some public housing units, though some of it is not in good condition, the Plusurbia study says.Neighborhood businesses are faltering or disappearing. Dracula Video, for instance, long a mainstay on Northwest Second Avenue, moved out last year after the building that housed it was purchased, Vasquez said. Even the public schools are undersubscribed. Hartner Elementary and the Young Men’s Preparatory Academy are only at 50 percent capacity, planners say.Though there is plenty of low-cost housing, it’s in such bad shape that the neighborhood is attracting few families, Wernick said. That means it can’t capitalize on its status as one of Miami’s last largely residential zones in the urban core, he said.”It has remained very sleepy, but not in a way people are happy about,” he said. “There are lots of absentee landlords. Families that want to live in the neighborhood, they don’t have a lot of options. Professionals who want to live and work in the urban core don’t have a lot of options.” CAPPED HEIGHTThe Plusurbia plan would seek to foster compatible redevelopment through zoning tweaks to encourage incremental infill rather than large-scale projects, the typical Miami model. It calls for increasing allowable density while capping heights at four to five stories, and allowing developers extra square footage in exchange for payments into an affordable housing fund for the neighborhood.The plan also urges creation of a program of small grants to homeowners to underwrite repairs and renovations, and loosening of zoning rules to permit the addition of detached “in-law” quarters in single family home lots that allow for multi-generational living, or can be rented to boost family income and provide more affordable housing options.On the public side, the plan says the city and Miami-Dade must replace the neighborhood’s cracking sidewalks, improve street lighting and add to its thin tree canopy.The recommendations are the result of community consensus hammered out in public workshops, one-on-one meetings with local leaders, an online survey and walking tours of the neighborhood during which planners interviewed people on the street, said Plusurbia principal Juan Mullerat.“Everyone understood it needs to densify. Everyone was fearful additional density would displace them,” Mullerat said. “But overall we found there is room to grow within the neighborhood without displacing residents.“The whole idea here is that almost every recommendation is about mitigating displacement, increasing the affordable housing stock and supporting the existing residents.”One large problem that the plan would address, Mullerat said, is the suburban zoning assigned to Wynwood Norte by the city’s Miami 21 code, which does not allow sufficient density. The reason there is so much vacant land and little new housing in the area, he said, is that the rules make it unfeasible to develop there — a common problem in similar neighborhoods across the city, such as Little Havana.Those rules, Mullerat and other critics say, require too much parking onsite and too little building, making it almost impossible to physically fit it all in on a typical lot. That’s one reason why the typical Miami model of redevelopment is for an owner to amass multiple lots and build on a large scale, which displaces residents and helps drive up the cost of new housing.But that’s what’s likely in store for Wynwood Norte if the rules are not amended, Mullerat and Wernick argue.“If current conditions remain, doing nothing will lead to displacement, in my mind,” Wernick said.Yet Wynwood Norte already has the basics for success, stakeholders say. It is centrally located, dense, compact and eminently walkable, even if the sidewalks are cracking and the tree canopy thin. Social services, including a senior center, and Clemente Park are located on the business district main street. It’s a short stroll to Midtown Miami’s shops and restaurants and to Wynwood nightlife, both sources of jobs as well as diversion for residents.“It is because the location,” Vasquez said. “Wynwood is like a small little island, but there’s something always happening around it. Anybody that lives in Wynwood, you have everything at your fingertips. You don’t even need a car. You can take an Uber everywhere you need to go.”ARTISTS’ COLONYThe Bakehouse, meanwhile, has an ambitious plan that aims to turn it into a true community anchor.The center opened in 1986, after it was purchased by the city for an artists’ nonprofit to address a need for affordable working studios. At the time, artists were being pushed out of Coconut Grove by rising rents and redevelopment. Today, they’re being pushed out of the Wynwood arts district and downtown Miami.As Miami’s art scene grows, but affordable neighborhoods become increasingly rare, the need for housing for artists is a bigger need than ever, Leff said. The center is seeking zoning changes for its property to allow construction of up to 250 units of housing.Under a covenant signed when the city turned over the property, the bakery building must be preserved for artists’ use. So the development plan envisions a new residential building on the site, much of which is a parking lot or underused property, Leff said. The center expects to recruit investors or a developer to take on the housing portion, she said.The residential building would tie the Bakehouse more closely to the neighborhood, which would also benefit from the addition of hundreds of new residents to patronize businesses, Leff said.“We don’t want to overdevelop. Everybody recognizes the unique character of the neighborhood. We want to make sure whatever we do is in sync with the neighborhood,” Leff said.If the Wynwood Norte plan succeeds, Mullerat hopes it will become a new model for redevelopment in Miami — saving and enhancing what’s already there, instead of tearing it all down and building on a massive scale.“It’s been really a ground-up project. The neighbors have been very involved. It’s not developer-centric,” Mullerat said.“You are not going to do it tomorrow. We must create funding mechanisms that can fund all these lofty goals. It’s going to take time. But we need to start appreciating what we have.”    
Plusurbia has won two awards at the Florida APA Conference for its work on the projects Little Havana Revitalization Master Plan and Coconut Grove Master Implementation Plan.We share this with our partners without whom this would not have been possible: National Trust for Historic Preservation, Perkins and Will, Cesar Garcia-Pons, W Thomas/ Tom Lavash, Health Foundation of South Florida, Dade Heritage Trust, Urban Health Partnerships, Live Healthy Little Havana, Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, Francis X. Suarez, Eileen Higgins, Ken Russell, Urban Impact Lab, City of Miami
Coming up on September 4th, Plusurbia's Puerto Rico office will hold a series of events called "Junte Multimodal," or "Multimodal Get Together," to open up the conversation about urbanism and mobility in Puerto Rico.Plusurbia joins a number of other distinct community organizations and businesses and invites you to join us for this first series of small conferences and networking events, which are open to the public. Let us know your thoughts on mobility in Puerto Rico by taking the online survey!Launch me (function() { var qs,js,q,s,d=document, gi=d.getElementById, ce=d.createElement, gt=d.getElementsByTagName, id="typef_orm_share", b="https://embed.typeform.com/"; if(!gi.call(d,id)){ js=ce.call(d,"script"); js.id=id; js.src=b+"embed.js"; q=gt.call(d,"script")[0]; q.parentNode.insertBefore(js,q) } })()
PlusUrbia's Megan McLaughlin contributed to the 2019 edition of Dade Heritage Trust Preservation Today Magazine.Her article is about the Vera Building, located in the OMNI Arts and Entertainment District of Miami. Read more about it below: Dade Heritage Trust was a key partner in the effort to create the Little Havana Me Importa Revitalization Plan. PlusUrbia is proud to collaborate with Dade Heritage Trust, helping to make Miami better, one step at a time.
PlusUrbia's Megan McLaughlin is presenting at the Florida Main Street Annual Conference, held in Orlando, Florida on July 24-26.Megan's presentation, "New Buildings With Old Character," focuses on promoting urban infill on Main Street that is compatible with beautiful historic buildings. As a historic preservation expert, Megan will share effective tools for protecting historic districts from out of scale redevelopment.  Megan's previous work at the City of Coral Gables in the North Ponce Neighborhood Conservation District and current work at PlusUrbia on the Little Havana Me Importa Revitalization Plan allows her to share a unique perspective, expertise, and new ideas, such as creating a strategic partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation how to adapt incentives to promote preservation in a key neighborhood.Megan McLaughlin is a certified planner, urban designer and preservationist who has over 15 years of experience. She is the preservation planning leader for PlusUrbia Design and has served as City of Miami Preservation Officer and as City of Coral Gables City Planner.  McLaughlin has extensive experience in policy, code and guiding appropriate urban infill development for historic downtown/main street districts. 
Plusurbia Design was featured in the French magazine Urbanisme April, May, and June of 2019 issue. The article, written by Eric Firley, a Professor at the School of Architecture of The University of Miami, talkes about the City of Miami and its urban growth in spite of its battle with climate change. Plusurbia, along with other great firms in the City dedicated to urbanism, is mentioned for its groundbreaking work on the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District, Little Havana Me Importa: Revitalization Master Plan, as well as the study of three Transit Oriented Development areas in Miami. 
PlusUrbia's Juan Mullerat was honored to have received the 2019 Honor Award from the Livable Cities Conference on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and PlusUrbia Design Team for the Little Havana Me Importa Revitalization Plan with the City of Miami and The Health Foundation of South Florida.
PlusUrbia's Director, Juan Mullerat, presented at the 56th International Making Cities Livable Conference on "A Healthy City for All" in Portland, Oregon.His presentation focused on the recently published "Little Havana Me Importa Revitalization Master Plan". More information about the presentation below:Healthy living must be the outcome of every urban design process. What began as a project to protect Little Havana’s unique character -- while improving this neglected, affordable, historic neighborhood -- became a flagship master plan based on healthy solutions for re-investment in the community.Little Havana is one of Miami’s oldest inner-city neighborhoods. By virtually every measure, the community has a significantly higher index of chronic diseases and report more issues with daily health concerns, than the average for the city or nation.Little Havana is a dense, low- to mid-rise community with very low rates owner-occupied housing and median household incomes far below city- and countywide average. Rampant development pressures threaten the livability of the culturally-rich community.Contextual design, that respected history, heritage and cultural identity, focused on producing healthy outcomes via:• Enhancing walkability, parks and public transportation -- to promote exercise and fresh air while reducing expensive car dependency.• Encouraging preservation/restoration of 1920s and 1930s residential and commercial buildings – to maintain affordable housing and access to jobs in a high cost of living city.• Creating green, play streets that take cars off the road to create safe neighborhood open space.• Reconnecting to the Miami River, a working river lacking public access for the community.• Crafting complete streets with multimodal mobility to support safe movement through the human-scaled neighborhood.• Writing design guidelines that encourage high density with low- to mid-rise buildings that promote access to community live, improving living conditions with both physical and mental benefits. JUAN MULLERAT, Assoc. AIA, APA, is the Founder of Plusurbia Design – a firm that specializes in land planning and city building. As a designer with over 25 years of experience, Mullerat has received numerous awards for his projects around the world, including the APA’s 2017 National Economic Planning Award for the Wynwood Master Plan and the 2015 Kinpan Design Award for Songhua Lake Design. In 2013 he was honored as the Urban Designer of the Year by the AIA in Miami. Mullerat has designed buildings, neighborhoods and cities in five continents and is currently dedicated to solving transportation, revitalization and housing issues through his firm and by lecturing at the University of Miami on health in the cities, urban revitalization and place making.
National Trust for Historic Preservation, PlusUrbia Design and local partners issue report with input from over 2,700 Little Havana residents and stakeholders.Miami (June 11, 2019) – With the goal of promoting the revitalization of the Little Havana neighborhood for current and future residents, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and PlusUrbia Design today released a master plan focused on building a healthy, equitable and resilient neighborhood community in Little Havana. The plan, put together over the course of more than two years and with the input of over 2,700 neighborhood residents and stakeholders and several local partners, brings together best practices and the latest thinking from a range of fields—from public health to urban planning to architectural design and historic preservation. It is the first plan of its kind to focus specifically on revitalizing and improving the quality of life for people in Miami’s most iconic neighborhood.The revitalization plan includes input from a collection of civic and non-profit organizations currently working in Little Havana, including: The Health Foundation of South Florida, Live Healthy Little Havana, Urban Health Partnerships and Dade Heritage Trust.From the time the National Trust named Little Havana a National Treasure in January of 2017, the Trust and its local partners led by Plusurbia Design, a local planning firm, have been focused on ways to retain the things that make this place one of America’s most beloved neighborhoods. While it is an iconic historic place, Little Havana is also a dynamic urban neighborhood whose residents face a range of challenges and threats, including poverty, sub-standard housing, displacement, poor transportation options and insufficient open space. This plan is an attempt to comprehensively address these challenges by bringing together an integrated set of national best practices from a diverse array of professional perspectives. Rather than a regulatory approach, the plan relies on increasing incentives, lowering barriers and respecting the existing heritage of Little Havana.“Little Havana is the heart and soul of Miami. It is also a longstanding symbol of the immigrant experience and one of the most essential places in America,” said Robert Nieweg, NTHP. “But there is no denying that this important place is also facing a range of threats, and its residents confront significant challenges on a daily basis, from sub-standard housing to poor transportation options to a lack of green space. In developing this plan, we listened to the concerns of thousands of local residents and stakeholders, and took advantage of the latest thinking in fields from public health to urban planning to architectural design and historic preservation to find solutions to these concerns. This is the first report of its kind, and webelieve it can be a road map for making life better for current and future Little Havanaresidents”"La Pequeña Habana is one of the best-known Latin-American barrios in the United States,"said Juan Mullerat, principal at PlusUrbia Design. "Though the neighborhood is one of Miami’spremier tourist destinations, those who spend time there know that its real value lies in itspeople and the legacies they have built over many generations in the neighborhood. This plan isinspired by the culture of Little Havana, and it seeks to ensure that this unique place and thepeople who created it will always have a home here." ABOUT THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATIONThe National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.SavingPlaces.orgABOUT PLUSURBIA DESIGNPlusurbia Design is a Miami-based planning firm that designs contextual cities, towns and neighborhoodscollaboratively to create lasting value. www.plusurbia.comMEDIA CONTACTS: VIRGIL MCDILL, NATIONAL TRUST, 202.294.9187, VIRGILMCDILL@GMAIL.COMJUAN MULLERAT, PLUSURBIA DESIGN, 305.444.4850, JUAN@PLUSURBIA.COMRelated articles:WLRNhttps://www.wlrn.org/post/little-havana-revitalization-plan-released-will-now-go-actionThe Real Dealhttps://therealdeal.com/miami/2019/06/11/little-havana-could-be-redeveloped-like-wynwood/El Nuevo Heraldhttps://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/finanzas/acceso-miami/comunidades/article231432093.htmlWJCThttps://news.wjct.org/post/little-havana-revitalization-plan-released-will-now-go-actionCBS Miamihttps://miami.cbslocal.com/video/4102931-city-of-miami-unveils-plan-for-revitalization-of-little-havana/NBC Miamihttps://www.nbcmiami.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Mayor-Unveils-Plan-to-Revitalize-Little-Havana_Miami-511153152.htmlArchinecthttps://archinect.com/news/article/150141827/revitalization-plan-for-miami-s-little-havana-to-focus-on-more-affordable-housing-and-healthy-urban-livingCalle Ocho Newshttps://calleochonews.com/new-revitalization-plan-little-havana-me-importa/
PlusUrbia's Juan Mullerat is thrilled to be able to participate as part of the jury in the Elevate - Bringing urban spaces to life competition.Learn more below from the competition's website: PREMISE Technology has miraculously enabled people to stay connected, informed, and entertained, from every street and corner. It is usual for someone to stare at their screens despite being surrounded by people in public spaces that are designed to offer respite from the  constant hubbub of urban life and engage people in interactions.Social interaction is a way to communicate ideas, meet new people and share conversations in a social setting. However, this definition is changing with the introduction of new companions in the form of devices that accompany people. This raises the question of whether we have surrendered ourselves to devices that in turn isolate us from those around?Or conversely, is the real world not interesting enough? CHALLENGE The hyper-productivity mindset with passing time has eventually made humans more dissatisfied and caught up with things in the name of efficiency. And our feelings for the role of public spaces, in general, are no different from this fundamental idea. It's this similar mindset that propels the civic planners to squeeze in an extra office block, or a housing unit, or a road for quick mobility - instead of creating actual quality public space for plenty reasons - but mostly in the name of ‘efficient’ and ’cost effective’ city planning.Does this mean our devices are getting better but our public spaces are not?What can we do for these outdated poorly performing public spaces/streets suffering from this quality crisis and outdated design? If we can’t break this connectivity continuum, how can we break the screen time for a short while to disconnect and reconnect, even for a few seconds? If not possible to break the screen time then how can we use these devices in our hands to make our public spaces relevant again?
The Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge is back this year and it is all about the way Miami moves!From the Public Space Challenge website:The Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge is back! This year, we’re investing $250,000 in your ideas to create, activate or improve how we move around our community. Think bus stops, bike lanes, water ways, streets, sidewalks, crosswalks or wayfinding signs and how you can make them more safe, fun and easier to use. The way you do that is totally up to you!PlusUrbia has proposed two ideas to improve mobility in the City and make it a more civil place.1. Be Kind - Park on the Line MY IDEA TO IMPROVE THIS PLACE...Misplacement of scooters has become a nuisance, a danger to pedestrians, as well as an obstruction to private property. As a result of the increased use of scooters, sidewalks have become less safe as people park them without any order, oftentimes blocking pedestrian mobility. The idea is to designate spaces for scooter parking by painting lines or areas on sidewalks so that people can leave the scooters within those boundaries -- providing a safer pedestrian environment.SO THAT PEOPLE COULD...The intent is to provide safer sidewalks for pedestrians. Scooter users will be able to enjoy the scooters and have designated places to park them.2. Cuban Memorial Blvd - Pedestrian Enhancement MY IDEA TO IMPROVE THIS PLACE...Is to provide continuity to the existing paths within the medians located in SW 13th Avenue. The idea is to define these connections with paint or textured surfaces to provide safer crossings to pedestrians and bicycles to one of the longest and narrowest open spaces in Miami. Currently, these medians contain paths that are intended for pedestrian use, however, due to the lack of visual connection between them and the substantial crossing distance, pedestrians feel insecure, and cars invade the crossing frequently. Therefore, a variety of floor murals for the 16 intersections are proposed as a creative solution to the current problem.SO THAT PEOPLE COULD...Enjoy a safer pedestrian path and an improved sense of direction, whilealso allowing car users to become more aware and cautious when driving over the pedestrian path. This initiative will also add aesthetically pleasing murals on the ground that will enhance the pedestrian and bicycle experience.
BY ROB WILE AND JOEY FLECHASAPRIL 18, 2019 06:30 AMTri-Rail has yet to arrive at MiamiCentral Station, where Virgin/Brightline has long promised a downtown home for the stalwart commuter rail.But Tri-Rail continues to look ahead to stops that could serve rising populations along the way. A new study commissioned by the public rail company recommends potential local train stops in two Miami neighborhoods: Midtown and Little River.Coral Gables-based Plusurbia Design authored the report, which evaluates two spots in the Midtown corridor as suitable locations for a train platform in the near future, with some caveats. The planners wrote that any train stops must come with broader upgrades along surrounding streets, including redone sidewalks, better lighting and safer crosswalks, to encourage people to walk to the platforms.“You can put a station anywhere,” said Plusurbia principal Juan Mullerat. “But if you make it unpleasant to get there, then it will fail.” The study proposes a new train hub in Little River further in the future, with redeveloped residential and commercial buildings surrounding a station, all carefully planned with significant public input and sensitivity to residents who wish to stay in a gentrifying neighborhood.The report offers a vision of what transit-hungry citizens clamor for: connections that allow people to ditch cars and easily move between downtown and some of Miami’s most well-known neighborhoods.The business side of the idea is the tricky part. Plans for these train stops are contingent upon Tri-Rail’s access to tracks owned by Brightline, a private transit company. Planning from the two entities have moved at a pace Miamians have come to expect from big-picture mass transit projects: The date for Tri-Rail’s debut at MiamiCentral station, once expected in 2017, has been pushed back several times.A representative for Tri-Rail said there is now no projected date for when its first train will pull into downtown Miami. But in response to questions from the Miami Herald, a Brightline spokesman said it is working to install required safety controls for Tri-Rail to use its tracks, and is aiming to finish the work before the end of 2020.Still, politicians and local businesspeople endorse Tri-Rail’s idea. Last year, the Transportation Planning Organization — a countywide government agency that approves federally required plans and transportation policies — agreed to pay half the cost of smaller-scale pilot projects across Miami-Dade that would demonstrate people’s appetite for mass transit along corridors outlined by the countywide transportation blueprint known as the SMART Plan. Cities with the projects would pay the other 50 percent. Among those projects: A temporary train platform somewhere in the area of Midtown or the Design District.Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said that regardless of the operator, there’s an urgent need for traffic relief along the increasingly congested Biscayne corridor.“From a public policy perspective, from a quality of life perspective, it’s really important that this get resolved,” he said. “We cannot let this asset go underutilized.”Plusurbia’s report highlights two potential Midtown locations that could work for a train platform, if some significant changes were made — on the north end, bordering the Design District under the I-195 overpass, or further south, between Northeast 29th and 27th streets. Planners believe both would have a built-in ridership from the growing number of residential and commercial developments in Midtown, Wynwood, Edgewater and the Design District — along with the people from downtown and further north who wish to visit the area. The plan suggests there are fewer obstacles for a permanent platform south of 29th Street than under the I-195 overpass. The overpass site is north of Northeast 36th Street near a five-point intersection with Federal Highway and Northeast Second Avenue — the site of daily rush hour traffic snarls. The space on either side of the tracks between 27th and 29th streets would require the government to either acquire land or work with property owners to develop a station.One of those owners is interested. Bill Rammos, who’s invested in the Miller Machinery & Supply warehouse at 127 NE 27th St., told the Miami Herald he would be open to adapting the “old, underdeveloped warehouse” into a train station with commercial space.“I think that would help the whole neighborhood,” he said.Rammos considers the report a confirmation of what he sees every day: a growing community with new and obvious needs for those who live there, as well as people visiting the area — and cars are not the long-term solution.“More parking lots and garages for more cars ... we’ve been doing that for years,” he said. “And it’s not working.”For the temporary platform being pursued by the city of Miami, municipal planners still prefer the site north of 36th Street because the city’s parking authority already has land leased from the Florida Department of Transportation.“The report concludes that based on potential ridership, number of residents, and concentration of jobs, a location between Northeast 27th and 29th could better support a train station and would be better served by a train station than a location near 36th Street,” said city spokeswoman Stephanie Severino. “However, the specific station location near 29th would require land acquisition and there is not currently parking on-site.”.Plusurbia’s recommendations could guide the selection of a site for both a temporary and permanent platform, Severino said.Farther north and further into the future, the urban planning firm deemed a strip of land along Little River just north of Northeast 79th Street a viable home for a train stop accessible to residents of Little Haiti, Palm Grove, the Upper Eastside and Shorecrest. Planners see the potential for a transit hub, which could include a redevelopment of the Midpoint shopping center with new commercial and residential space, that balances gentrification already in motion with keeping current Little Haiti residents and the fabric of their neighborhood intact.The report emphasizes that maintaining the area’s cultural character and scale is crucial in a part of Miami already under pressure from developers, a point underscored by a current controversy about a large planned development about 17 blocks south of 79th Street. Plans for the massive Magic City Innovation District have fueled an intense debate among Little Haiti activists who agree the roughly 18-acre project would forever transform Little Haiti but not whether that change would be for better or for worse. Another 22-acre redevelopment proposal on Northeast 54th Street stalled last summer when activists objected.The need for reliable public transportation would likely have broad community support, though, as long as it does not come with real estate projects that would displace longstanding residents, the activists said. Meaningful community input would be key.“Any effort to relieve traffic that will not intrude on people’s way of life would be welcome,” said Marleine Bastien, a longtime area activist and director of the Family Action Network Movement.Last year, Northeast 76th Street resident Alisa Cepeda told the Herald she thought administrators ought to consider a train stop within walking distance of her neighborhood. With a station at 79th Street, she’d be able to make the seven-mile commute to work on just one train and a half-mile walk from MiamiCentral to her job on West Flagler Street. She’d have a much simpler commute than her current public transportation option of transferring from a trolley to a Metrobus to the Metromover to get to Government Center.A Metrorail passenger train rolls by the Brightline terminal in downtown Miami in March. Jose A. IglesiasJIGLESIAS@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM“I think it’s an absolutely wonderful idea,” she said Tuesday.It’s not a new idea, but the process to build a train platform is complicated by the ownership of the tracks, which forces public agencies to negotiate access to private infrastructure.Florida East Coast Industries (the parent company of Brightline, which is being renamed Virgin Trains USA) owns the tracks that Tri-Rail, operated by a public tri-county transit authority, wants to use. Tri-Rail was supposed to have arrived at MiamiCentral by 2017, according to one of the earliest presentations Tri-Rail published showing both Brightline (then All Aboard Florida) and Coastal Link projects.Today, Tri-Rail executive director Steven Abrams says Tri-Rail and Brightline have a “cooperative, complementary relationship.”“We really serve different residents in South Florida,” he said. “Our service is very much for the daily commuter. We stop every two miles along our route in various cities, we have a lower price point on our ticket. Whereas Brightline, it’s three stops, it’s more geared toward the tourist or businessperson in the area.”While there is some overlap, one that would increase as Tri-Rail serves as a conduit for Brightline passengers, “coexisting is fine.”“They made it possible for us to go into MiamiCentral Station by reserving a platform and working cooperatively with us,” he said. “They think the same of us. If you asked, they have a cooperative relationship with Tri-Rail.”Yet the opportunity is huge.“We would grow tremendously if we were able to extend our existing service through downtowns of major coastal cities,” he said.Aileen Boucle, executive director of Miami-Dade’s Transportation Planning Organization, said the goal has remained for Tri-Rail riders to have another stop before downtown on the day the train first pulls into MiamiCentral, even if it’s a temporary location while a permanent station is planned.“Having that service would allow residents and commuters to benefit from that project immediately,” she said.For Suarez, one of several Miami-Dade municipal politicians who sit on the planning organization’s board, at least a stop in the Midtown/Wynwood/Design District is necessary today — so much so that he thinks a temporary platform should be built wherever most feasible in the short term to demonstrate the potential ridership.“I’d rather have something to start proving the concept now than wait for something permanent,” he said.A Tri-Rail train heads north from the Northwest 79th Street station in Miami-Dade. C.M. GUERREROEL NUEVO HERALDRead more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article229002739.html#storylink=cpy
Miami's Shenandoah: a neighborhood ahead of its timePlusUrbia is excited to be working to survey the Shenandoah neighborhood along with Dade Heritage Trust.POSTED ON MARCH 21, 2019 AT 1:18 PM.WRITTEN BY THE NEW TROPIC CREATIVE STUDIOA look at the 1800 block of SW 11th Terrace between 1920-1930 in the Shenandoah neighborhood of Miami. (Photo by Gleason Romer)WHAT IT IS: Shenandoah, a neighborhood just southwest of downtown Miami, is one largest collections of 1920s and 1930s architecture that the city or state hasn’t studied or documented.Megan McLaughlin moved to the neighborhood 10 years ago because she exhausted of her 90 minute commute to downtown. With two toddlers, she felt like she was missing out on so much time with them. So she and her husband moved to Shenandoah, where they can walk everywhere and catch a bus to downtown.McLaughlin and Chris Rupp from the Dade Heritage Trust have partnered to survey the neighborhood and put together a report with the data they collect. With a grant from the state, they’ll create a file for each of the 650 properties in Shenandoah that will include the history of the house, previous owners and residents, and the prominent architectural features.MOST SURPRISING FACT: According to McLaughlin, Shenandoah is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Miami, a city that’s already very inclusive of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. McLaughlin said that city directories show that the neighborhood was at some point home to Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Russian families. Cuban and other refugee families also settled there in the 1960s.WHY IT IS IMPORTANT: Shenandoah was one of the first suburban developments outside of downtown and has always been ahead of its time, McLaughlin said.“It was different from Coral Gables and Miami Shores and some of these other maybe more known suburbs because it was diverse from the beginning,” she said. “You had already a mix of duplexes, houses, little apartment buildings, corner stores, all of these things that I think the new urbanism and other planning folk talk about that now as the gold standard of a ‘good urban neighborhood’ but Shenandoah had it 100 years ago.”HOW TO GET INVOLVED: If you’re interested in volunteering to help conduct the survey or organize the collected data – or organize a similar survey for your own neighborhood – McLaughlin said you can contact the Dade Heritage Trust.Find out more information by reading the article written by THE NEW TROPIC CREATIVE STUDIO through the link below:https://thenewtropic.com/neighborhood-spotlight-working-to-document-shenandoahs-historic-architecture/
Plusurbia's Juan Mullerat and Cristina Parrilla presented a preview of the Little Havana Revitalization Master Plan at Commissioner Higgins’ Kick off Reception for the East Little Havana Alliance. This event is will be followed up with this Saturday's Clean Up Flagler! event. Follow the link to the article from Community Newspapers below for more information:http://communitynewspapers.com/biscayne-bay/commissioner-higgins-launches-east-little-havana-alliance Images from the kickoff event:
PlusUrbia's Principal, Juan Mullerat, is looking forward to participate in the roundtable discussion "Future of the American City: Miami." The event will take place at the Conrad Miami, 1395 Brickell Avenue, 2nd Floor, Vila Real from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6th.From the Harvard University Graduate School of Design:Dean Mohsen Mostafavi of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) convened a roundtable discussion to update attendees on the Future of the American City: Miami initiative and present findings of and elicit discussion on the “Mobility Oriented Design: The Case of Miami Metrorail,” funded by the Lennar Foundation. The work done on three Transit Oriented Developments in the City of Miami for the past year makes Juan a knowledgeable participant who can provide valuable input for for a discussion of this topic. 
PlusUrbia's Principal, Juan Mullerat, is excited to be speaking at the East Little Havana Partners Kick-Off Reception, hosted by Commissioner Eileen Higgins, Mayor Francis Suarez, and CAMACOL. It is a welcome opportunity to help celebrate the reactivation of Flagler Street and to share what has been learned from our ongoing planning efforts in Little Havana.
PlusUrbia's Principal, Juan Mullerat, will participate on a panel called "What do you mean disruption?" organized by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce as a part of their leadership Miami program. See below for more info:Date: Saturday, March 2nd, 2019Time: 10:15AM -11:15AMLocation: Camillus HouseSpeaking Topic: What do we mean by disruption?  How are you shifting your respective industries?Audience: Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Leadership Miami Program - 80 program participants who are typically emerging and mid-career professionals representing a variety of sectors and industries (literally everything from banking to healthcare to real estate to marketing and more), coming together to learn about community issues and leadership skills.The goal of the Disruption & Community Development Session is to introduce program participants to the various ways our community is growing and changing. We would like them to interrogate what their role is in shaping Miami's community and economy, as well as can help develop individual leadership skills.
PlusUrbia's Principal, Juan Mullerat, was invited to participate at the staff retreat for District 5 with Commissioner Eileen Higgins, held at the Perez Art Museum (PAMM) Library. Juan was asked specifically to talk about what makes an ideal community and the vision moving forward for Miami-Dade County. He is grateful and excited to have been able to share his ideas on an ideal Miami based on his experience on urban revitalization, place making, healthy design, transportation, and providing quality of life for all residents.
Juan Mullerat was invited to participate in the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Density and Smart Growth City Commission Workshop with the City of Tamarac. Having recently updated its land development code, future land use element and map of its comprehensive plan, and zoning map, the City faces the challenge of encouraging redevelopment while also protecting its traditional neighborhoods and encouraging smart growth with a responsible increase in density.The purpose for the workshop was to serve as a tool to educate all stakeholders on the concept of density and how it compliments existing zoning, to eliminate the notion that increased density might be a potential threat to quality of life, and to show examples of urban villages that have maintained their small town feel while creating a vibrant, walkable, livable environment for growth. Juan's presentation focused specifically on design, planning, and density.
PlusUrbia’s Little Havana Me Importa: Holistic Guidelines for Social Equity, a Livable Community and Healthy Outcomes in Miami’s Most Historic Neighborhoods project has been selected as a finalist for the 56th IMCL Design Awards competition.Design Awards winners will be announced June 19 during the International Making Cities Livable Conference in Portland. PlusUrbia founding principal Juan Mullerat will also be a featured speaker at the conference.The Little Havana Me Importa plan creates guidelines for healthy, resilient and more affordable solutions for Little Havana. The plan respects Little Havana’s small-scale, culturally rich and dense community. It creates a more livable city while protecting residents, neighborhood character and historic buildings. More than 3,000 residents and stakeholders provided input and drove the vision and objectives for Miami’s most diverse and historically significant neighborhood.The implementation plan, created in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will:Reinforce and enhance cultural identity.Establish a multimodal transportation system.Increase and enhance natural assets.Incentivize community building with guidelines that retain the essence of Little Havana, including requiring new construction to match the neighborhood’s character and scale.Support affordable housing while introducing a mix of incomes and increasing home ownership within low-rise buildings. PlusUrbia is a planning a design office that often works with national and local partners to strengthen and improve its work. "Little Havana Me Importa Plan" is a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Plusurbia Design with the collaboration of the Health Foundation, Dade Heritage Trust and Urban Health Partnerships. Their involvement was key to deliver a project that is relevant and provides solutions catered specifically to the needs of Little Havana, its culture and its people.Visit https://www.livablecities.org/ for more information about International Making Cities Livable Council.
PlusUrbia’s best work is born of a healthy, intense collaboration with the public and private sector. Our work with the Wynwood Business Improvement District was a perfect combination of collaboration with private and public sector visionaries on the BID, with the City of Miami and from the Akerman law firm’s land use practice.The resulting Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District (NRD) envisioned a vibrant and eclectic person-first district that is walkable, innovative and filled with mixed-use development, 24-hour activity and a healthy balance of land uses.We were proud when our innovative approach to shared parking, micro units, transfer of development rights and preservation of legacy buildings and businesses was honored with the American Planning Association’s Gold Economic Development Award. The national APA award is the highest honor in the urban design profession.But we are even more gratified of our winning collaboration on the NRD, thanks to the BID’s recently-released Market Report. The report, created by Integra Realty Resource, basically proves that our work has resulted in virtually unmatched economic activity – in a district that was a mix of warehouses and light industry not that long ago.The best news in the report is that our goal -- to create a live/work/play neighborhood to balance the artistic, restaurant and retail uses – has come true in just a few years. The report shares dozens of facts that demonstrate that Wynwood already is one of the most valuable neighborhoods in Miami. And the district has a healthy mix of chip projects, all properly-scaled within the BID boundaries thanks to our regulations, in the pipeline for years to come. To read the BID’s overview, and the full report, click https://wynwoodmiami.com/wynwood-market-report-confirms-districts-transformation-into-true-live-work-play-neighborhood/
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