May 16 2013

The Magic City’s Three-Year Transformation

Miami has found its magic again. With the approval of Miami 21 in 2009, it accomplished an unprecedented feat and became the first major city to adopt a form-based code. With the motto, Your city, Your plan, Miami’s experiment is a solitary example of the importance of public support through outreach and marketing. Thanks to Miami 21, the city is emerging from a crippling recession in a stronger position than before. May 20th marks three years since its implementation. Miami 21 has improved several aspects of our quickly-growing city.

New Miami21 on formerly vacant surface parking lot

Urban Infill. The former land-use code, a conventional ‘Euclidean’ model, forced inappropriate separation between live, learn, work, and play. This horizontal form of development pushed city-wide car dependency – leaving gaps and vacancies in countless communities. The Miami 21 initiative opened doors to mixed-use development, achieved by basing zoning less on land use and more on the physical form. Infilling these once underused properties has increased the value of these communities.

Density. The last two decades swarmed Miami with towering development in many communities – resulting in an over-built downtown and large high-rise condominiums across a neighborhood street from a humble one-story single family home. Miami 21 provided the necessary density transition, while molding the recent development boom into the correct areas: transportation corridors, MetroRail stations, neighborhood centers, and urban cores.

Pedestrian Experience. The previous code left scars of hostile environments for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles, as it catered to the car-dependent culture. Both residents and tourists (a core industry in Miami) are thankful that the basis of Miami 21 is human-scaled development. Recent construction across the city hugs the sidewalk, conceals parking, and fosters livability for each neighborhood by providing everyday conveniences within easier reach.

Activating public space in Wynwood

Though unfortunate compromises were made, such as high parking requirements, a shortage of medium density areas, and the possible neglect of important public space/buildings – these issues will be tackled in the coming years. Receiving numerous awards, Miami 21 is quickly improving for the vitality and livability of our city.

What other major cities are working towards rewriting their zoning code into sustainable environments?

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, May 16th, 2013 at 9:04 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Jennifer Garcia, Land Use, 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.

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One Response to “The Magic City’s Three-Year Transformation”

  1. Transforming Miami: One Ride at a Time | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] are enhancing some of the country’s most dangerous areas for riders and walkers. While these physical upgrades are important, the unity and adjustment of road mentality may be what makes Miami a safer city. One event gaining [...]

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