The Miller School plan
Dover, Kohl & Partners led a week-long charrette in mid-September aimed at bringing order, pedestrian comfort, and a degree of architectural grace to the jumbled section of Miami containing the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, the Miami-Dade justice center, and other institutions.
“In working sessions, faculty, staff, and local residents told the consultants they want the district to be a safe, navigable, inviting place,” the Miami Herald reported. “Near the top of the wish list: wider sidewalks, trees and shade, and decent, affordable housing and lodging within easy walking distance.”
The university and its medical school took the lead in sponsoring the charrette, which focuses on an area that has recently been christened the “Miami Health District” (see Oct. 2006 New Urban News). “We realized we couldn’t continue to put buildings up in isolation,” said Jose Szapocznik, the medical school’s associate dean for community development. “We have a great opportunity here.” University President Donna Shalala sees the creation of a thriving precinct for the medical school as a way of helping to elevate the med school’s ranking nationally.
Planner Victor Dover told participants that improvements would be slow, incremental, and expensive, as obsolete buildings, streets, and sidewalks are replaced. The firm is to deliver a final conceptual plan and architectural guidelines in several weeks. The guidelines are expected to promote walkability and ensure a unified look and feel to new buildings, the Herald reported. One idea is to design new life sciences buildings in a traditional Mediterranean style “to hark back to the university’s founding in Coral Gables and suggest continuity and permanence,” the paper said.