Friday, August 04, 2006

Miami Architects Go Green

One night last week the Miami Art Museum became ground zero for A-list Miami architects and their admirers.

For a few fleeting hours attendees were privy to the creative processes and output of Oscar Glottman, Chad Oppenheim ( in a white linen suit, no less), Allan T. Shulman, Max Strang(whose house, along with Oppenheim's was featured in Miami Vice), Jacqueline Gonzalez Touzet and Carlos Prio Touzet (the team behind the gigantour Setai Condo building) as they "reimagined" Biscayne Plaza, the eyesore of a strip mall on Biscayne and 79th that features not one, but two Payless Shoesource stores. (No offense to Payless, but how many faux-designer shoe outlets doth one need in a 50 meter radius?).

The panel discussion was engrossing even as the architects fumbled with the A/V equipment ( why oh why are Powerpoint slide presentations so difficult to coordinate?). The audience sat with rapt attention hanging on to every word of our city's designers, the fabricators of our modern metropolis. There was of course an open bar before and after the presentations, just in case people needed an extra reason to look at floor plans. The event was sponsored by Flamingo South Beach (my new favorite condo-conversion) and Home Miami magazine (worth reading).

From Oppenheim's cantilevered "volumes of space," and advocacy of underground parking ("There are guys in Europe that are doing unbelievable things with underground parking.") to Shulman's pedestrian-oriented site (the best design of all four, probably because Shulman lives in the area and understands the dynamics of the site) to Touzet Studio's "environment technology campus," the major theme was GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. This is what the world is moving towards, the architects kept saying, Miami take note! Solar energy, bury the parking, expand the green canpoy, living rooms on balconies, if this is where the city could go, the feeling in the room was - if only!

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