The Elevated Park That Never Got Off The Ground - By Garrick Jones
As the economy peaked several years ago I flew up to Portland Maine to meet with great local designer Mitchell Rasor (MRLD), and City Planning officials. We joined other international developers, and a fleet of consultants and advisors for design presentations and a blistering barrage of heated and hightly publicized Community Review and City Council meetings. Myself, Della Valle Bernheimer, and MRLD had designed one of two proposals before the City for development of the Maine State Pier, a dilapidated deep sea berth pier which protrudes far out into the Portland harbor from a crossroads between a gorgeous and vibrant little downtown and a now quieter but recently rezoned manufacturing district known as the Eastern Waterfront.
Our strategy was an opportunistic mash-up of old and new, small and monumental scales of programs and structure. We proposed developing the pier twice; once at grade for commerce and once again, on top, for the public. Our proposal was to refurbish the existing pier and structures as an intermodal transportation and commercial hub, over which is added a new occupiable roofscape which would be draped atop and span across the existing warehouses running continuosly along the entire length of the pier. This new elevated landscape slopes down where pier meets land to seamlessly become an at-grade park. This new second pier would be a combination of public green space, institutional pop-ups such as performance spaces, and enough photovoltaic panel area to allow the pier below to be net-zero.
However, our team was portrayed as outsiders, as I was from New York, and our developer a behemoth. The competing team’s developer was local, and the design team was a large consortium of local designers. The review and approval process was highly contentious, and big local news. City Council members were forced to recuse themselves, voted out of office, many with vested interests one way or another. Eventually the local team won city council approval by a single vote.
But, sadly the political wrestling didn’t end there; financing never materialized and the Pier project never happened. Then the economy changed the world. The new urban typology we were seeking five years ago exists now in cities such as New York, and projects such as The High Line. In a future economic cycle, with a new outlook on sustainable development and engineering, and connectivity, perhaps Portland will recycle its Pier.
Walk The Line, an exceptional way to experience New York City. An elevated green park with a sense of rear window curiosity. High Line Park is open from 7 am to 10 pm year 'round, featuring unique characteristics throughout the four seasons with the natural changing landscape and events. Surrounded by the wildflowers and green foliage, the pathway meanders alongside the buildings, intimate park benches and inviting seating steps providing plenty of resting spots. The cityscape unfolding among the brilliant design structures, integrated seamlessly with the urban setting. A hideaway above the street traffic with amazing views from dusk to dawn, it is equally magical for tourists and residents alike.
By Lloyd Jackson
Number 10 - Freedom Tower
600 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami
Built in 1925 to house the offices and printing plant of the Miami Daily News, formerly the Miami Metropolis, the city’s first newspaper founded in 1896 with the help of Henry Flagler. Designed by New York-based architectural firm Schultze and Weaver, which also created the Roney Plaza in Miami Beach, the Biltmore in Coral Gables, and the Breakers in Palm Beach.
Tri-partite scheme features a three-story base embellished by decorative elements made of pinkdyed cast stone and striated with artificial veining. Above a twelve-story tower sits an elaborate two-story cupola. The design, like that of its local brethren, takes inspiration from the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain.
The newspaper, now defunct, remained in the building until 1957. Five years later, the General Services Administration utilized the structure as the Cuban Refugee Center through 1974; hence the nickname “Freedom Tower.” Developers the Terra Group acquired the building and proposed attaching it to an immense condominium, to the chagrin of many preservationists. In December of 2005, the company donated the Tower to Miami Dade College but still plans to build a 62-story building behind it.
Number 9 - The Barnacle
3485 Main Highway, Coconut Grove
Designed and constructed in 1891 by yacht designer/boat builder Ralph Middleton Munroe (a.k.a. the Commodore) who moved to South Florida from New York. The oldest home in Miami-Dade County still on its original site, it is now part of the state-park system.
A three-sided veranda wraps a square-plan structure, which features rooms oriented around an octagonal dining area. In 1908, the entire one-story, wood-frame house was raised to provide more living space via a new ground floor made of rusticated concrete blocks. Taking inspiration from the marine life form that is its namesake, the house has a center vent in its flared hip roof, which creates a chimney-like effect expelling hot air. The front entrance faces a long, rolling lawn that stretches east toward Biscayne Bay. At the edge of the property, near the water, is a small boathouse where Munroe lived while constructing his home remarkably suited to South Florida’s tropical climate.
Number 8 - Vizcaya
3251 South Miami Avenue, Coconut Grove
Completed in 1916 as a winter home for International Harvester farm equipment heir James Deering. The site originally consisted of 180 acres that included a working farm on the west side of South Bayshore Drive. Over the course of 10 years, more than 1,000 workers built the compound and 70-room Italian Renaissance villa designed by F. Burrall Hoffman, with landscape work (formal gardens) by Diego Suarez and interiors by Paul Chalfin.
The house has a central courtyard surrounded by loggias connecting four towers. The design encourages cross-ventilation, a necessary concession to the local climate. The garden behind the southern end of the house features a grand raised casino to block glare from a lake there. On the east bay-facing side, a large stone barge embellished with classical statuary floats in the bay and functions as a breakwater against storms. The complex is now a public museum owned by Miami-Dade County.
“Why use a 4x4 to hold something up when I could use a V8 engine instead? Especially if that engine is coming out of a landfill somewhere.” Artist Tom Teitge (rhymes with Tai Chi) built his house in Kauai from salvage. There was a garage here once, until Tom stood a forty foot pole up through the roof, then hung his unique beam structure off that central pole.
The ground floor is studio space, the second floor the living quarters, and the third floor is an open air loft. The roof is suspended by cables. “I love metalwork” says Tom, “I love everything about it, the heat, the sparks…”. His welded sculptures adorn the footings, staircases and other parts of the structure. “I just want them to look beautiful.”
This is stream-of-conscious architecture which can’t be described in typical terms, but makes perfect sense. It is a physical manifestation of the way the artist’s mind works. How many people do you know that have an airplane engine sticking out of their bathroom?
Shortly after completing the Kauai house, Teitge moved to Idaho to begin work on another, his sixth, salvage house. This time his muse was a burned log cabin in the town of Hailey. Adjacent to the house he is realizing a long term ambition called the Model of the Universe Gazebo.
“This is an astronomical device that I have been working on for a couple of years, that is finally reaching the home stretch. The central table, representing the plane of our solar system is nearly completed. Jason Georgedeis has done all the machining, including the gearing which keeps the earth sphere oriented such that the axis of the planet always points towards Polaris as it is moved to its different positions on the table. The elevation sketch gives an idea of the overall completed look. The dome on the utility trailer will be precision drilled with up to 500 different sized holes which will represent the northern star field. The center spire also points to Polaris.”
In other words there are a bunch of holes drilled in the canopy that form a representation of star fields as seen from earth. In the center of the structure is a steel table with moving rings that support the planets of our solar system as they move around the sun, which sits in the center of the 800 lb. table.
The table has a separate circular track for each planet’s orbit, and is engraved with dates and degrees such that all the planets can be positioned just as they are in the solar plane on any given day. When sitting next to the model earth when it is properly positioned on the table, a visitor to the Gazebo, can look upward to the roof and see the sunlight shining through the holes that represent the exact stars that will be visible that night in the sky.
The spire also serves as the gnomon of a sundial casting its shadow in the surrounding plaza of the Gazebo, which will feature a bronze analemma set in stonework, and readable throughout the year.
See more of Tom Teitge's work on his website www.tomteitge.com
By Barbara Bowers
|Pavilion and sculpture next to the 75-foot lap pool.|
The curtained pavilion that stretches across the back property line at 727 Poorhouse Lane is Hal Bromm’s and Don Meris’ favorite “at home” spot. Overstuffed sofas, white tablecloths and cushy pillows, a creative hodge-podge of chairs and stools form an instant comfort zone in a mature garden of mostly indigenous plants. But in a gentle breeze, not-so-indigenous papaya and banana leaves flutter, accenting the Zen quality of calm and natural light.