After Miami Beach commissioned the landscape architecture firm behind New York’s High Line to reimagine the look of the Lincoln Road mall, the first images from an early draft of a much-anticipated master plan emerged Thursday.
Officials from Miami Beach and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations are set to formally unveil the draft of new vision for Lincoln Road at a public forum June 24 at the Miami Beach Golf Club. The city gave Field Operations a $500,000 contract to dream up a look and feel for the retail pedestrian mall last fall.
Real-estate blog The Next Miami posted the leaked images Thursday, a week before Field Operations was ready. The presentation, obtained by the Miami Herald through a public records request to the city of Miami Beach, shows grayer, more uniform sidewalks, changes to planters and fountains, and an outdoor art gallery. The idea is to create a more open, welcoming space that makes it easier for visitors to navigate and interact with its features.
The plan proposes closing Drexel Avenue to traffic, keeping the intersection solely for pedestrians and building a large new folly at the eastern end of the mall at Washington Avenue. The proposal also delineates clear zones for sidewalk cafe tables on the inner spine of the mall, leaving open sidewalks for pedestrians in front of businesses, and suggests using some of the more open areas as exhibition or performance spaces.
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Isabel Castilla, a senior associate at James Corner Field Operations, said in an interview Thursday the presentation is still being refined in the days leading up to the public unveiling. The current images represent a work in progress.
The draft that people will see Wednesday will still be a work in progress because the city and Field Operations want to get public input on the initial concepts before developing a final plan by late August. Castilla said a final document is expected to be considered by the city commission in early September.
“The idea of the meeting Wednesday is that we’re able to have a conversation with the public, with the city and with the Historic Preservation Board and get their feedback,” she said. “For us, it’s important that it resonates with the public.”
Corner is famous for designing the High Line in New York City, a popular linear park built on a section of unused railroad in Lower Manhattan.
Castilla said the early ideas reflect an attempt to recapture the feel of the original Morris Lapidus master plan. Lapidus, a mid-century architect whose style became synonymous with Miami Beach after he designed resort hotels including the Fountainebleau and the Eden Roc, designed the Lincoln Road mall in the late 1950s.
“What we’re concentrating on is the big vision,” she said. “A unique retail and dining destination, but also a civic spine for the community.”
Field Operations plans to use the feedback from the community to build on the early ideas and expand out into the broader Lincoln Road district, which includes side streets and both Lincoln Lanes.
The forum will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, in the club house of the Miami Beach Golf Club, 2301 Alton Road.