For a metropolitan area known for its beaches, Miami and Dade County also have a large quantity of parklands, which are experiencing higher levels of use and demand for facilities as more families populate the many new downtown residential enclaves. Linking contiguous and nearly contiguous parklands to one another along the Biscayne Bayfront, and turning the vacant parcel behind the American Airlines arena into a signature destination and park attraction, were two of the goals that Miami Dade County and the City of Miami had in mind when they hired PPS to run a series of vision workshops and partnership building exercises. The workshops were essential in identifying the opportunities for these important public spaces as they transition from regional destinations to neighborhood park facilities.
To evaluate the Baywalk and American Airlines Arena Park, PPS held a community Placemaking workshop attended by local citizens, public officials, design professionals, members of civic and cultural institutions, business owners and other stakeholders. Participants worked together to create a vision for a Baywalk promenade which addressed not only its route but also the uses, activities, and amenities that could be programmed along it. Based on the result of the workshop and observations, PPS developed a series of recommendations and opportunities, in addition to potential partners and funders. A written report also detailed recommendations for management, both short- and long-term physical improvements, and potential activities and programs.
The City of Miami Beach was also wrestling with how to activate a series of contiguous ocean front park lands between 72nd street and 108th St., some of the last remaining wild and natural areas in the city. PPS’ vision plan, developed in cooperation with the community and the City of Miami Beach Department of Parks and Recreation, balanced the community’s conflicting desires for more active recreation areas with a need to preserve the natural habitat; identified a new location and configuration of the city’s beach maintenance facility; connected the city library to the park; made recommendations to activate the ground floor of a privately owned residential housing development; and called for repurposing a historic landmarked bandshell. It also addressed the large homeless population who have lived in the area for many years.
With locally-inspired activities that fly in the face of traditional park programs, from bread-baking to puppet shows, Toronto residents created a community place out of a park neglected by locals and city officials alike.