Three years ago a marketing executive named Meg Daly broke both of her arms, and that’s how Miami’s future Underline Linear Park was born.
As she explained to the editors at the Architizer,
…I had a bike accident and broke both of my arms. Since I couldn’t drive to physical therapy, I took our above-ground train to the closest stop and walked under the train tracks to get to therapy. It was when I slowed down, didn’t drive, and walked that I “saw” the potential of this 10-mile 100-foot-wide, county-owned land for what it could be: a 10-mile linear park and urban trail, just begging for transformation.
From there, Meg connected with representatives from the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County Parks Department and Transit Department, the University of Miami School of Architecture, local business leaders, and James Corner Field Operations who designed the High Line in New York to put together a comprehensive plan. This year, Friends of the Underline and their partners have engaged in a series of public meetings to unveil design proposals and to get community feedback.
I attended one of those meetings earlier this week at Vizcaya’s Garage near the Museum of Science. Lisa Tziona Switkin, Senior Principal, and Isabel Castilla, a senior associate, from James Corner Field Operations gave a presentation outlining the general concept and proposals for each section of the Underline, which will run beneath the MetroRail from Brickell to Dadeland.
A key vision for the Underline is that it act as a link between communities and as an alternative means of transportation. Based on previous community feedback, there will be three major themes: Ecology & Habitat; Art & Culture; and Ecology & Sustainable Initiatives. Isabel Castilla discussed design specifications of the bike and walking trails, as well as ideas for recreating native habitats along the trail. James Corner Field Operations worked with Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden to include hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands and wet prairies along the 10-mile length of the park.
One of my favorite parts of the design are the “character zones” – four distinctive destination zones that reflect the character and needs of nearby neighborhoods:
- Nature and Play: Brickell area
- Art and Craft Incubator: Coconut Grove area
- Green Technology: University of Miami area
- Active Recreation: Southern portion of the trail, South Miami to Dadeland South.
Within each “character zone” are proposed “punctuations”. For instance, the “Brickell Backyard” would include a climbing wall inspired by nearby oolitic limestone outcroppings and possibly a dog park; while the Douglas-Bird Road area would have a bike repair station and the zone near the University of Miami might have pop up retail relevant to students and staff.
Speakers and Panelists at the event included:
- Paul Schwiep – Coffey Burlington – moderator
- Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado
- Commissioner Xavier Suarez – County District 7
- Albert Hernandez. Assistant Director at Miami-Dade County – Transit
- Lisa Tziona Switkin, Senior Principal, James Corner Field Operations
- Isabel Castilla, Senior Associate, James Corner Field Operations
- Stewart Robertson, Project Manager, Kimley-Horn and Associates
- Meg Daly, Founder and President, Friends of the Underline
- Maria Nardi, Chief of Planning and Design Excellence, Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces
It is fascinating to hear the genesis of great ideas – and how often they are accidental happenstance. The idea for an Underline Linear Park is one of those amazing accidents… literally. I think the Underline will positively transform this stretch of Miami.