The renovation and improvement of the historic Lincoln Road pedestrian mall by landscape designers James Corner Field Operations has been shrouded in semi-secrecy by the City of Miami Beach through the entire process. This puts a big question mark around one of architect Morris Lapidus' greatest architectural achievements, which is paradoxically completely unprotected by historic preservation laws despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Lincoln's midcentury elements are not historically designated locally). Finally, a detailed look at the plan has been revealed.
The result, in a draft of the plan obtained by The Next Miami, is a design that eliminates literally all color from the structural and architectural elements of the road itself, while radically altering the midcentury lines of numerous planters, fountains, and other architectural elements. A few of the ideas included would be significant improvements, like the pedestrianization of Drexel Avenue, but the overall transformation of the road as described in the report is both rather underwhelming, extremely extensive, and significantly destructive of historic details. It's also bland.
The colorful paving which is now one of the most notable features of Lincoln Road would be completely ripped out and replaced with generic gray pavers with organic-looking striations. A few large new freestanding structures are added to Lincoln Road's collection of follies in key spots. A pervasive effort is made to introduce contemporary 'organic' aesthetic sensibilities into a midcentury setting that has always enthusiastically been anything but organic, and an obvious adoration of the neighboring and unhistorical 1111-adjacent block of Lincoln are all part of the plan. Perhaps the success of 1111 Lincoln Road was a motivating force for the improvement of the rest of the stretch, but instead of acknowledging and embracing the different styles of the two sections, here one is clearly watering down its own powerfully unique identity to mimic the other. Neither a landscaping design or plans for Lincoln Lanes North and South, (the alleys, which have loads of potential) beyond saying that they should be incorporated somehow, are included in the draft.
· James Corner Field Operations Lincoln Road Master Plan [TNM]
· Lincoln Road coverage [Curbed Miami]