Crespi Boulevard Apartments

Miami Beach, FL

Located in the Biscayne Point neighborhood in Miami Beach, the proposed 4 story apartment building is a response to the environmental and social changes impacting the northern end of the city. Rising sea levels, demographic changes, and historic preservation efforts have combined to necessitate a reassessment of the basic residential building blocks that define this community.

Made up of one and two story buildings the Biscayne Point multifamily residential district is zoned for buildings no higher than 50’ starting at a datum of 8’ above sea level. Since this is an area of Miami Beach which has eluded development for the past 30 years it has captured the attention of developers who see the value of the properties due to the amenities of an urban beachfront community that is minutes from downtown Miami.

Our task is to design a case study building that meets code, blends with the existing urban fabric, and provides onsite parking. Where the existing buildings provide only a 10’ setback from the street for landscape we propose 20’. Where most of the existing multifamily buildings are comprised of one bedroom and studio apartments we have designed larger 2 and 3 bedroom units for families, live/work space opportunities, and much needed diversity in the housing opportunities.

Parking is provided only at the ground level which allows the parking slab to move up as the adjoining street level responds to rising sea levels. The building is on stilts so to speak. Accordingly any future modification of the height of the surrounding grade level is flexible while still maximizing the allowable square footage of living area permitted per code. The result is a sustainable medium density multifamily residential building. Balconies are extra large and fitted with sliding louvered panels to provide adjustable shading on the dominant east and west exposures. All units have corner opportunities with open views afforded to all the units. The roof is designed for community use with such amenities as a roof garden and community pavilion.

The district has several significant historic buildings that reflect the era they were constructed such as art deco and mid-century modern. Many of the residential buildings have effective floor plans. Many do not. Most buildings do not provide onsite parking. The result is a disappointing pedestrian experience where cars dominate and landscape is occasional. Summer without shade trees can be so harsh that residents will drive short distances rather than walk or bike. Weighing in significantly is the peril of sea level rise and the inevitable need to raise buildings. The economic impact for those buildings that do meet current building code requirements is enormous. State funded flood insurance may in the near future not be available.