April 04 2013

Miami’s Missing Middle

Miami is a melting pot not only of cultures, ethnicities, and cuisine, but also of students, professionals, couples, families, retirees, and tourists. However, contemporary housing fails to represent this diverse population by developing only single-family homes and condos – leaving few options in-between. Miami is missing middle-density building types: townhouses, row houses, courtyard housing, live-work units, mansion apartments, cottage courts, plexes, and more. Why are these middle units important?

Benefits Community. Overdevelopment and crowded condos have made “density” a bad word among many communities. However, density encompasses a wide variety of housing, including middle housing. While still dense, these building types are small-scale and blend seamlessly in any community, which therefore make permit approval an easier process. They create a fine-grain mix of families, incomes, and ethnicities.

Coral Gables Quadplex

Benefits Budget. Attached housing is economical due to the utilization of the shared “party wall.” Costs are saved in the building process because of their simple forms and smaller size, resulting in less waste on unnecessary construction and allocating more resources for better quality. As the city matures, these units can also be easily adapted for other uses in the future.

Coral Gables Townhouses

Benefits City. While large development tends to occur in the hinterlands, mature neighborhoods offer vacant lots and opportunities for redevelopment within city limits. These infill properties are ideal for small, incremental growth. Building neighborhood-scaled attached housing enhances the community by developing vacant lots, creates density where transit is readily available, and increases the city’s tax-base.

Coral Gables Row House

Properly and tastefully built, middle housing advances many local groups. As the Miami housing market continues to heighten, it is crucial for architects and developers to consider these middle housing units. As a city, we have always been proud of our mixed communities and now is our chance to reflect our diversity in our built environment.

What other places could benefit from these often forgotten middle units?

Credits: Photographs by Jennifer Garcia. Data linked to sources.

Jennifer Garcia

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and principles of the New Urbanism as a Town Planner at Dover, Kohl & Partners. Based on careful research, she designs each project within the context of the local architectural language, distinct culture, and regional settlement patterns. She proudly holds a Master of Architecture from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Traveling has taught her to immerse herself into each place’s history, culture, traditions, and how they contribute to the range of urbanism and local vernacular. She also enjoys blogging as a local transit advocate for Transit Miami. Her daily bicycle commutes reinforce her belief in nurturing a living urbanism with livable streets.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2013 at 9:34 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Housing, Social/Demographics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


3 Responses to “Miami’s Missing Middle”

  1. Smart Growth News – April 8, 2013 | Smart Growth America Says:

    [...] Miami’s Missing Middle Global Site Plans – April 4, 2013 Miami’s housing stock can be characterized generally to encompass single family homes and condos. Between these two options, however, other choices are lacking. [...]

  2. Unlocking Value in Miami, Florida | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] could move to the garage-liners, making room for rowhouses behind, offering the often forgotten middle units, while respecting the neighborhood [...]

  3. “Miami is missing middle-density building types” and all their benefits, such as… | TownhouseCenter.org Says:

    [...] Full post here. [...]

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