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Epic 'Greenhouse' Design Wins for Wynwood Gateway Park

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A large greenhouse-like structure is coming to the corner of Wynwood, at 29th Street and NW 2nd Avenue, just behind the Ducati store, that will house an inventive and really beautiful new park, and privately owned public green space. The winning design for Wynwood Gateway Park in an international design competition held by Tony Cho of Metro 1 Realty to create a park on one of Metro 1's properties, is sort of a cross between the famous Wynwood Walls site a few blocks down and the belated Enea Bamboo Garden in the Design District, but without the mural art, and with a thin, white superstructure embedded with LEDs that will glow at night and be built around a giant old oak tree on the site. And yes, it looks subtly like Joseph Paxton's legendary crystal palace, in London, with the tree in the middle.

The winning team picked by the blind jury, which was coincidentally the only local team that submitted to the contest, was a collaboration between FIU's Nick Gelpi and Roberto Rovira as well as Miami artist Jim Drain. Cho will partially fund the cost of construction, and is confident he can raise the rest through donations and public funding.

From the Miami Herald:

Given Wynwood's arts bent, Gelpi and Rovira reached out to Drain, a Miami artist known for colorful sculptures and installations who both of them knew, to give their submission an extra dimension. And while the plan has no obvious or stand-alone artwork, Gelpi said, Drain was closely involved in sketching out and developing ideas, especially in devising ways the park could accommodate artistic events or installations and contributing his color sense to the selection of flowering plants. Drain also designed multi-colored bollards to protect the park's front from wayward motorists that are reminiscent of those he installed this year at PortMiami, Gelpi said.

The designers saw the 14,000-square-foot park project as a way to bring back a bit of nature to a neighborhood defined by concrete, while blending in urban elements like moveable seating and benches and a paved walkway that will run the length of the lot, creating a new connection between 28th and 29th streets.

The benches would be built into modular "green walls'' made of blocks of planters and a base of woodcrete, a building material made of ground-up, mineralized melaleuca trees, an invasive species. Two earthen mounds planted with native wildflowers would provide topographic definition.

The canopy would be made of thin aluminum members and have built-in LEDs that Rovira said would make the structure glow after dark. Because the lot once held two bungalows, the structure has two peaked points that recall their vanished rooflines. Rovira said.

Drain captured the park's essence in an offhand quip one day, Rovira said: "A place for butterflies, and for social butterflies, too."

UPDATE: Burle Yates is another local design team that submitted plans for the Wynwood Gateway Park competition, according to Benjamin Burle. There may have been others as well, thankyouverymuch people sending anonymous tips.

· Miami artist, architects win design competition for new Wynwood Park [Miami Herald]
· Greenhouse Park [wynwoodgreenhouse.org]
· Wynwood Gateway Park coverage [Curbed Miami]