La Strada Novissima


The Continuous City, characterized by clearly delineated urban spaces of streets, squares, and boulevards, was a dominant concept of urban form up until the end of the 19th century. Within this model, every building is integrated into the street. The building façade becomes the sole mediator between interior and exterior. Architecture recedes into the background, and building type is subjugated to the larger urban form – with the exception of municipal and national centers which are excluded from this system.

The Discontinuous City, propagated by opening up the enclosed block at the beginning of the 20th century, is the diametric opposite of the Continuous City; in the Discontinuous City, buildings liberate themselves from the urban fabric. Within this model, every building is an autonomous object independently displayed – a privilege previously reserved for churches, town halls, and palaces. Buildings have greater freedom in type, and are insubordinate to the form constituted by urban space.


The studio will investigate the intersection of two urban models – the Continuous City and the Discontinuous City – through the design of a small to medium scale building situated on a new pedestrian street in the Design District of Miami. Rather than viewing the Continuous City and the Discontinuous City as mutually exclusive models, the studio will investigate a hybrid between the two as an opportunity to promote an alternative form of collectivity through the aggregation of singular and semi-detached buildings.

The pedestrian street will be utilized as the urban space for the hybrid between the Continuous City and the Discontinuous City. Instead of treating the pedestrian street as a top-down, urban archetype that provides a structural basis for architecture, here, the pedestrian street will be posed as a new urban type constituted by a collection of semi-autonomous buildings.

The site will be a new pedestrian promenade, the length of 4 street blocks mainly consisting of 2-3 story buildings, surrounded by 25 acres of hybrid development planned for the Miami Design District jointly developed by the DACRA group and the Real Estate division of LVMH.

Given the context of Miami as a repository of pedestrian-oriented streets of distinct characteristics, from Lincoln Road Mall and Ocean Drive in Miami Beach to Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables; the studio is tentatively planning a three-day trip to Miami from September 23-25 to study context as well as case studies for the new pedestrian promenade.

Irregular Schedule:
Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee Studio will be meeting Thursdays and Fridays on an irregular schedule. Optional meeting hours will be available outside of studio time and should be arranged directly with the instructors. The Studio meeting dates are below:
August 29, 30 (ML and SJ)
September 12, 13 (ML)
September 23-25 Field Trip to Miami
October 3, 4 (SJ)
October 24, 25 (ML)
November 7, 8 (ML and SJ)
November 21, 22 (SJ)
December 5, 6 (MJ) OPTIONAL