Miami Beach Rejects Zaha Hadid's Parking Garage Design

A rendering of Hadid's plans for a parking garage in Miami Beach.
A rendering of Hadid's plans for a parking garage in Miami Beach.
Image via Zaha Hadid Architects

Well, this is unfortunate timing. Only weeks after famed architect Zaha Hadid died in a Miami Beach hospital, the City of Miami Beach has decided against building a Hadid-designed public parking garage in the Collins Park neighborhood. 

The city commissioned Hadid, a part-time Beach resident, to design a garage to replace two surface parking lots behind the Miami City Ballet facilities. Though stunning, the original plans would have cost about $50 million to build. The city had allocated only $27 million. 

"When she came back with the item that was almost $50 million, it was awe-inspiring," Commissioner Michael Grieco said. "I couldn't imagine you could make a garage that was that amazing." 

Hadid's firm agreed to pare down the design to a budget version, and the final plans were delivered to the city March 31, the day Hadid died. 

However, the budget option came with significant changes. Ground-floor parking was visible from the street, roughly 60 parking spots were removed, a pedestrian-friendly plaza was shrunk, and ground-floor retail square footage was cut in half. The total estimated cost for the refined project was just $25 million. The firm had also previously submitted a compromise version that would have cost $29 million while retaining more of the original features.

Differences between the three versions of the Hadid garage.
Differences between the three versions of the Hadid garage.

"I'm of the belief that this is such an incredible, iconic piece of her last work that she did," Mayor Philip Levine said. "I think we should seriously consider having this completed in Miami Beach." 

Gustavo Berenblum, principal of the local architecture firm that had partnered with Hadid on the project, also spoke in favor of completing one of her last designs. 

"You might remember that Zaha used to come to Miami Beach not only to Art Basel but to other events. She used to spend a substantial amount of time here in Miami Beach. She had an apartment on 23rd and Collins, and she really loved this place," he said. "Unfortunately, we lost her a few weeks ago, but I can truly say this was one of her last projects — a project that she loved — and her hands were on the design until the last moment." 

However, commissioners weren't impressed with the new budget design. 

"The scaled-down version pales in comparison to the original design," Grieco noted.

Even Berenblum agreed: "There's a point at which you start cutting that you start losing the essence."

Commissioner Ricky Arriola said he had recently talked with leaders at Art Center/South Florida (which recently sold its Lincoln Road digs and is looking for space elsewhere) about becoming the ground-floor tenant of a new garage project. Commissioners were receptive to the idea. 

"There is something to be said about an iconic 'starchitect' and to have something iconic, right?" Commissioner Micky Rosenberg said. "There's something special about that, but there's something that makes sense about what Ricky is saying as well. It's a very interesting conundrum that we're in." 

The commission ultimately decided to begin the whole process over and put out a new call for plan submissions that could incorporate space for ArtCenter as well as workforce housing. 

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