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The Zoning Calamity That Is The Related Group's 'Element'

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One Curbed Reader sounded off on the urban planning, zoning, and architectural horrors of the Related Group's proposed 'Element' project, pointing out that this is specifically the kind of thing the Miami 21 'New Urbanist' zoning code was designed to prevent. Check out this epic comment by Jake Keirn:

This project fails miserably on so many levels. Urbanistically 31st street should not be closed. Miami 21 specifically states that Blocks should prioritize connectivity and not exceed an average perimeter length of 1,320 feet (3.8.2b), likewise "Thoroughfares that provide View Corridors shall not be vacated"(3.4.3c). Compliance with these two rules would break down the scale of the project by breaking it into 2 separate podiums instead of one mega podium, preserve the view corridor as well as existing urban character. The two separate buildings could still be linked by a bridge over the road so that the two buildings could share amenities. As it stands though the current mega podium design completely alters/overwhelms the existing urban scale, weakens the neighborhood connectivity, and eliminates the view/access to the bay for residents and the public.

My second gripe with this project is that is mega garage podium is unscreened and unlined on all sides except the one facing the bay which has a few townhouses. Can you imagine what it will be like to walk down any of those streets along those 100'+ long garage façades? Tt will be dead, uninviting and not contribute to the social life of the street now matter how much lipstick put on it. Miami 21 requires that the ground floor along ALL frontages SHALL contain habitable spaces (5.6.2l) and that at the first story facades along a frontage line SHALL have frequent doors and windows at a max spacing of 75' (5.6.1f). So after breaking the mega podium into 2 separate podiums they should have lined all of the east-west streets with townhomes and the bay facing street with either townhomes or retail.These proposals would obviously reduce the amount of parking. However, if you look at the elevations the podium is only 3 stories tall. So in order to compensate they should add an additional one or two levels to the podium in exchange for breaking the project into two separate podiums that have all of their frontages completely lined with townhouses or retail. I thought the theory of super blocks and mega buildings from the 50s-80s which have devastated our cities had been relegated to the dust bin of urban planning theory. Now architecturally who in their right mind thought that balcony bubbles on what essentially is a single loaded slab tower was a good idea? Seriously I can see my 6 year old niece coming to me with this design, its just a box with round bubbles on it. All that's missing in this case is colored bubbles to complete the look!

Lastly with regard to the blank stucco walls that result from the single loaded corridors of the building they could have EASILY went for a backwards C shape for the tower. This would have reduced the length and impact of the single loaded corridor on the neighborhood and still given ALL units views to the water. Likewise, it would have allowed for views of the city to the south and the north which could easily command if not exceed the prices for the bay facing units. -Jake Keirn · Element coverage [Curbed Miami]