Multiple Miamis

This interdisciplinary studio will take on questions of how design can address issues of inequity, race, affordability, and resilience in the context of the contemporary American city.  Funded through the Knight Foundation, and using Miami as an urban laboratory, the studio will address contemporary urban challenges facing many American cities, including accessibility and mobility, housing and affordability, race and cultural identity, climate change and adaptation, and struggles for a more inclusive and diverse public realm.

This studio will focus on the Overtown neighborhood near downtown, home to a predominantly African-American population partly rooted in historic waves of migration. A source of skilled labor and cultural vitality through Miami’s rapid growth, Overtown has also been a target of racial discrimination, violence, and dispossession. Following decades of redlining and segregation, its vibrant commercial / entertainment district and residential neighborhoods were decimated by two interstate highway projects in the 1960s. As Miami transitioned into a major global hub for capital, innovation, and tourism in subsequent decades, Overtown experienced overwhelming public and private disinvestment. Today, the effects of real estate speculation and boom, together with climate change and sea level rise, compound pressures on the neighborhood. That parts of Overtown are served by the Miami MetroRail, near to the city’s premier cultural and medical institutions, and sit on high/dry ground poses both acute tensions and transformative opportunities.

Students will develop multi-disciplinary spatial strategies and design proposals for re-imagining a Miami that reckon with its multiple, conflicted pasts; recognize its full and diverse citizenry; and suggest new possibilities for living in the contemporary American city. Projects may focus on questions of housing and public space; on infrastructure and productive landscapes; and on access and mobility in relationship to just and equitable development strategies.

Work from the studio will be published in a GSD-produced Studio Report and will be presented in Miami. We will organize topical seminars on key issues with special guests from across the design disciplines, both at GSD and in Miami.  The studio will run alongside and be integrated with a project-based seminar course for MUP and MDes students taught by Lily Song.