By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Mojgan Hariri: At first we were a little nervous that the environment would become a little claustrophobic. But now that I'm here and can see it in person, I see a nice harmony of tall buildings and shorter buildings living together happily.
What's the idea behind your design?
Albaisa: Contrast and complexity in a tropical climate.
Musumano: The idea is to provide light and ventilation in deep spaces as well as a meeting place that is simultaneously outside and inside. There's a movement through the house that you don't see in a regular townhouse.
What's the main theme?
Albaisa: Miami's tropical climate. We were interested in light and shadow. I think our houses seek a sculptural quality and a consistency with the color palette.
Musumano: We use color to produce contrast rather than the form itself.
These continuing views through the alleys are fantastic.
It's a wonderful experience! This project has so many hands in it that you can easily say, "This is pretty good." It may look easy, but it was a lot of work for a lot of people.
Density-wise, moving east to west, one gets this feeling of being on a wave.
AQUA is intended to slope down, from the tall [on the east side] to the low buildings [on the west]. There's a New Urbanism concept called "the transect," which is about the detailing in a city for those places that are more urban or more rural. The transect suggests the dimension and the detailing of the streets and how you get those transitions right.
What's the purpose of it?
To create an environment where all of the elements work together to produce something that is greater than the sum of the parts. I think AQUA is an example of the kind of transition that Miami doesn't have.
Is this a new step for New Urbanism?
What's new here is the mix of the low and high and of course the image of the architecture. It's contemporary. Some of these refer to the young history of Modernism. There's a bit of Vienna and Miami Beach.
Can AQUA be emulated in Miami?
I hope so.
Downtown Miami. If we're going to have the explosion of population that people are predicting, we're going have to come up with better ideas. Gentrifying in a rational way in support of public transit, using trains and buses. Miami's commercial corridors are beginning to sprawl. Take Biscayne Boulevard: The residents are right to be perturbed that next to a two-story house all of a sudden you have a forty-story building.
Talk about Beth Dunlop's comment comparing AQUA to a symphony, namely if Urbanism is the written score, the architecture becomes the music itself.
The architecture of these buildings is outstanding. In fact this is not only about the Urbanism. You can sort of imagine when people start living in them. There's a visual movement, a complexity given by the architecture that is pretty exciting. So many buildings today miss that. It's not only about location, location, but also design, design!