Best Public Park - 2011
Readers' Choice: Tropical Park
There is something stirring, even transcendent, about good public parks. They are the flip side to our collective neuroses, the yin to the voyeuristic yang of Charlie Sheen and Real Housewives obsessions that we secretly share throughout the week. Rather than wallowing in one another's misery on reality TV, however, a well-designed civic space brings us together for a few fleeting hours to celebrate the fact that we humans are still capable of creating beautiful things from time to time. Case in point: Miami Beach's new SoundScape Park, best known as the strange mix of palm fronds and alien structures to the east of the New World Center. Of course, the park almost didn't happen. When architect Frank Gehry complained there were insufficient funds for the park, city hall refused to cough up more cash. Luckily, Dutch firm West 8 stepped in to create a park that is half high-tech auditorium, half leafy oasis. And although SoundScape feels a bit barren at the moment, it will fill out over time as the palm trees grow and blood-red bougainvilleas creep over the park's metallic pergolas. But the real beauty of the 2.5-acre installation is its Wallcasts: concerts (beamed live from inside the concert hall) and movies projected onto the 7,000-square-foot ExoStage outside the New World Center. During Wallcasts, you can find bums seated next to beach bunnies, and real estate moguls sharing food with teenage skateboarders. For a couple of hours, peace reigns. Then everyone goes back to being a dick. SoundScape Park is open sunrise to midnight.