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Landscape architect’s “out of the box” idea worth a look, residents say

BHA directors and residents heard from Miami Landscape Architect Douglas Thompson about a concept he came up with to create park space in Brickell on the water. His vision for “Brickell Bay Park” piqued the interest of BHA directors and residents hearing about the idea for the first time on August 30th.ElevationexistingFinal_opt

Mr. Thompson explained that he conceived of Brickell Bay Park as an answer to the shortage of quality public space in the Brickell neighborhood. His concept coverts Brickell Bay Drive around the Point View bend into a waterfront park featuring open recreational spaces and playgrounds, and perhaps a small observational pier. The park could also capture its own stormwater and filter it in native vegetation wetland gardens before returning it to Biscayne Bay, he said.

Mr. Thompson’s design seeks to take advantage of the potential of this public area overlooking Biscayne Bay. Currently the prime waterfront gives over its panoramic views of the Bay to vehicular traffic and parking, which, along with narrow sidewalks, presents a harsh environment for people. His plan would provide green space as well as take advantage of the spectacular bay vista with a wide promenade for strolling.Elevation1_opt

Closing this portion of Brickell Bay Drive to traffic or making it calm, one-way traffic only is possible, Mr. Thompson said, because the apartments and condos facing Brickell Bay Drive also provide access to their properties behind their buildings via SE 14th Lane/SE 14th Terrace.

Thinking really big

He has an even grander alternative plan that makes the area for the park and promenade even wider by extending the land further into Biscayne Bay. This would be wide enough to also accommodate a road—a low-speed, narrow, curving road, not a major thoroughfare. The seawall protection along this area, as Commissioner Francis Suarez points out on page 10, needs updating anyway, so why not make it a little bigger at the same time?Elevation2bfinal_opt

Looking back at Point View’s roots

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Point View in the 1920s, described by Casey Picket of miami-history.com, as Miami’s Gold Coast, where self-made millionaires who were products of the Gilded Age chose to live their winter months and retirement years.

While at first blush this second plan might seem the antithesis of environmental stewardship, it harkens back to the birth of Point View in 1912, originally a mangrove swamp created from fill dredged from Biscayne Bay. Known as Miami’s Gold Coast and one of the most desirable places to live, Point View was the first such land created to expand waterfront property by dredging. It didn’t take long for the idea to catch on in Miami, however. Miami Beach and the islands leading to it were created with fill, as was Brickell Key and Fisher Island.

A Brickell resident who has been in Miami for about 10 years, Mr. Thompson explained he has no agenda other than a commitment to providing public service for parks and the environment. He is dedicated to environmental sustainability and respect for native ecologies.

Mr. Thompson is currently working on other major public projects in Miami including The Underline, Ludlam Trail and South Miami Park. He is a registered landscape architect and a co-principal of the design office, LandscapeDE, a Miami-based landscape architecture and urban design firm established in 2011. It is dedicated to creating designs that are resilient, connective and high quality.

Mr. Thompson shared his renderings here with BHA to share with residents. He wants to hear what you think. Send him email at douglas@landscapede.com or call him at 305-215-9683.

From BHA News, Fall 2017

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The above concept expands the land area for the park into Biscayne Bay.