America’s Boutique City

With the rise of new economies and the influx of Millennials and Empty Nesters, it seems there is a new urban biotope. Some American cities are undergoing a renaissance, and suddenly, a new cityscape has emerged, which is complex, layered, and multi-functional. In new and old cities—New Orleans, Santa Monica, the Portlands and Toronto to name a few—the boundaries between residential, industrial, and cultural districts do not exist anymore. Is this evolution happening incrementally? Was there ever an overarching theory for this movement? Is this the birth of the new American Boutique City?

This studio will develop a complex, multi-layered urbanism promoting overlap and exchange. Public space will be equally distributed between bicycles, pedestrians, public transit and vehicles. The ground level will be an incredible interface where people meet and find new subcultures. Architecture, public space, and form all work together.

Although this Boutique City seems inevitable, the great American legacy of engineering seems far behind. The sad truth is, every light rail or bus lane is delivered as a high-speed rail corridor. Is it true that American ingenuity is incapable of delivering integrated, smart, urban infrastructure for trams, bicycles, skaters, pedestrians and drivers?

The Cultural Leadership of Miami Beach has offered us their city as laboratory. We will ask:
What kind of strategies can promote multi-functionality?
What kind of designs can be imagined for identity, architecture, public landscapes and ecology?

Besides the definition and exploration of this new Miami Beach, we must design these places to be resilient in the face of future storm surges and sea level rise. Students will analyze Miami Beach, where these catalytic points might be, and what kind of transit can be integrated. Each student will then elaborate on one of these sites, designing his or her specific program. Finally, students will design the Boutique City along a 3-4 block area to a refined, three-dimensional level.

Irregular Schedule:
The studio will consistently meet on Wednesday and Thursday from 2 – 6pm with Claire Agre and Rachel Laszlo Tate. Adriaan Geuze will be in residence the following dates: January 22 and 23, February 5, March 25 and 26, April 15 and 16, and for the final review. He will also join the site visit to Miami Beach during February 22-25 (dates may change.) This studio is open to all disciplines.