Young architects design dog park, video game room and more for the Underline

Architects gathered June 3 to show six months of ideas for land underneath the Miami Metrorail. Drawn on poster board and molded out of clay, ideas included a butterfly park, dog parks and a video game room.

But these ideas didn’t come from experienced architects. These exhibits were from the minds of kindergartners at KLA Schools of Brickell.

The display marked the second time the school has opened its doors to showcase the graduating kindergarten class’s semester-long project. This year, 15 students decided to focus on developing ideas for the land underneath the Miami Metrorail, which is known as the Underline.

“They came up with the same idea as the city, which I think is really cool,” said Lucia Thoss, a parent at the school.

Thoss said she had seen glimpses of the project from updates sent by her daughter’s teacher, but had yet to see the designs in person. While rain kept the exhibit from being displayed outside under the Metrorail, Thoss and other parents were still impressed by the models and drawings their children had created.

“I think it’s a great project,” said Maarten Boute, whose 6-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, designed a dog restaurant for the space. “I think they became aware of their environment. I’m very proud.”

Kara Kersting, one of the teachers, said the idea for the exhibit came after the teachers suggested the class visit the Underline, which can be seen from their classroom.

“For me, it’s been very eye-opening in terms of what knowledge they have,” she said. “I never would’ve thought this could happen because I underestimated what the children can do — the ideas, it’s limitless for them.”

Two representatives from the Underline Project came to the exhibit to see the final versions of the children’s work.

“I was blown away,” said Gita Shamdasani, the Underline director of development.

“They really approached it like architecture students.”

Roberto Rovira, who chairs the design advisory committee for the project, knelt on the floor as Gabrielle explained to him where a chef would cook chicken and meat in her restaurant.

“It’s pretty ambitious,” he said. “To see these kids imagining and documenting, it’s really amazing.”

For Gabrielle, the best part was being able to construct her design out of Legos. “It helps explain, and tell what it is,” she said.

The biggest concern, she said, would be making sure it was dogs only — no cats.

“Then you’ll have some problems,” she said.

Plans are still underway for the Underline project, but both Shamdasani and Rovira hope construction will begin before next fall. And while a dog restaurant may not make it to the master plan, they’re taking note of the kindergarten ideas .

“The more we can understand the users and everyone, the better,” Rovira said. “This gives us great insight.”