Lauderdale-by-the-sea, the tiny sliver of a city sandwiched between Ft Lauderdale and the Atlantic, is nearing completion of perhaps its largest urban project in recent years: the redesign and beautification of its main street, Commercial Boulevard. Known more for its kitschy mid-century architecture and popularity among snowbirds than any great feats of urbanism, the city of 6,000 has made some major modifications to its busiest street, including less traffic lanes, widened sidewalks, and, gasp!, public plazas that have real live people in them! Despite some minor changes to the original design, the result shows the value of true public space, which can seem rather unusual in South Florida. (Yep, we're looking at you, Brickell!)
In 2010, a charrette with the University of Miami prompted city officials to seriously consider a more pedestrian-friendly downtown, comprised of exactly six city blocks. Four years later, four of the six blocks have been completed, of which the easternmost two include a series of small plazas terminating, literally, on Lauderdale Beach.
Designed by UM faculty members Jaime Correa and Steven Fett, the plazas are tree-lined, hardscape abstractions of the city's most recognizable landscapes: water, beach, and dunes. Distinct paving patterns are integral to differentiating between each plaza, and range from large, earth-toned concrete pavers in the smaller "dune" plaza, to shell aggregate with river rock strips in the slightly larger "beach" plaza, and a colorful, Burle Marx-inspired wave pattern in the "water" plaza.—Margina Demmer
· Lauderdale-By-The-Sea coverage [Curbed Miami]