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Students unveil their designs for “GreenLink” - a park under Miami’s Metrorail

April 7th, 2014UM News

An art gallery, a sculpture garden, an elevated park, a soccer field, landscapes and bike paths are some of the improvements proposed by Architecture students for a 10-mile stretch of land underneath Miami’s Metrorail. The students’ designs, presented to an audience of about 100 community leaders, government officials, and professors on campus recently, could transform Metrorail’s M-Path corridor, which runs from Dadeland South to the Brickell station, into an ideal area for pedestrians and bicyclists. “GreenLink” park could also create better connectivity between municipalities such as Miami, South Miami, and Coral Gables.

“We taught this studio in a very unusual way,” said Rocco Ceo, Director of Undergraduate Studies, who led the design studio with architect and visiting critic Raymond Fort. “We had a lot of people involved from day one, giving input constantly.”

Those people, many of whom were at the review, were members of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, Miami-Dade Transit, Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason, South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard, and Meg Daly, who came up with the idea of turning M-Path into GreenLink and now heads a nonprofit aimed at promoting the plan. During the presentation, Alina Hudak, deputy mayor of Miami-Dade County, recognized the School of Architecture, Ceo, and Interim Dean Denis Hector for participating in a project that could transform the entire community.

“The students were tasked with envisioning and laying out the project, and each student was assigned a mile of the 10-mile [stretch of land],” Ceo said. “It was a challenge, but they came up with great ideas.”

Students displayed their renderings on the School of Architecture’s Korach Gallery walls and took turns explaining their own plans to the audience. Each of their mile-long parcels displayed creativity. For James Harris, a second-year graduate student who designed the 3,000-foot stretch between Vizcaya Station and Simpson Park, the major challenge was how to build around Metrorail, whose tracks actually descend to ground level in that area. He proposed constructing a pathway above the train, with elevated ramps that would take pedestrians to a children’s park, a soccer field, and enclosed plazas.

Stephanie Graziano, a fourth-year undergraduate student, tackled the challenging space near the Miami River where the Metrorail starts at 17 feet of height and goes up to 56 feet. She decided to design a sunken garden of ferns and vines where bicyclists and pedestrians could relax, a limestone grotto that could double as a bus stop, and a building with an overhanging open-air room that overlooks the Miami River and could be a seafood or sushi restaurant.

“The biggest challenge was the size of the project,” said Graziano. “So we had to concentrate on what would have the biggest impact for the pedestrians and the community.”

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Renderings by James T. Harris

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