Analysis of the 1111 Building
In Miami Beach, FL, the building at 1111 Lincoln Road is a piece of modern architecture design, in which aesthetic purpose is integral with functionality of the construction. Irrespective of its utility as a parking garage, the building embodies beauty of the sculpture and firmness of the massive construction. The Swiss firm Herzog & De Meuron embarked on an experimental and innovative, if not entirely practical, way to make a parking garage aesthetically pleasing. Using elements of city culture and other architectural practices, Herzog & De Meuron create a building, embodying a futuristic architecture with environmentalist emphasis. This analysis paper will examine the effect the building has on its surroundings, the materials, history, circulation, and location of the building, how these elements come together in this unique piece of architecture.
The first urbanization of the area started in the beginning of the last century and is connected with activity of Carl Fisher in 1912. Initial swamps and forests were transformed into a public centre. In the 1950s, Lincoln Road was a center of business and commerce, a thriving market that soon saw a decline. In 1960s, the road gained new looks due to the efforts of local architect Morris Lapidus who had environmentalist and aesthetic approach to the architecture and design. That is how new gardens, picturesque promenades, fountains and a new amphitheater were added to the area. Throughout the decades, it has undergone many transitions, from a promenade to business centre and finally to a retail marketplace. In 2005, Robert Wennet purchased the building at 1111 Lincoln Road, which was previously occupied by the SunTrust Bank. Wennet consulted Herzog & De Meuron in order to make an innovative new look and reconstruct the building. Thus, the current 1111 building was born as an extension of the SunTrust building (Broome). According to the local zoning norms, the construction was allowed within 50,000 square feet. On other hand, being short with parking space in Miami, parking area is not taken into count of the whole construction. Subsequently, by making a parking zone, Wennet increased the overall footage of the planned building. Building of the garage did not only gave an opportunity to extend the construction physically but also contributed to the special balance with the main construction. The main building looks like a hammer in its appearance – two first stories are narrower than other four on top. If the building were left on its own, it would stand out for its size and irregular structure. On the other hand, the garage transforms the neighborhood. The ornate architecture and limpidity of the space create a connection between the edgy and irregular form of the Bank building with the artistic, smoothly lined Lincoln Road Mall, across the street, and Lapidus Pavilion on the other side. Without this construction the harmony between the buildings of different architects would be impossible. Thus, the garage fills the gap between styles and epochs (Goldberger).
The building is located on the intersection of Lincoln Road with Alton Street, which is now a pedestrian row comprising of businesses, restaurants, art galleries and other landmarks. The Regal Cinema sits across from the 1111 building. The Art Center South Florida, the Colony and Lincoln Theatre are also there. The main benefit of the building’s location and reason for its particular design is that it is built on the entrance to the main pedestrian promenade of the city. From the perspective of retail and services, no place is more favorable than this one. On the other hand, in order to attract people and not create inconveniences the structure of the building was supposed to be appealing and compact in the same time. The main aim was not to harm the pedestrian promenade, crucial for profits and esthetics. In fact, the building extends the pedestrian area and contributes to the enlargement of public space. In this context, the structure of the garage is the most meaningful – the space is not only economized, but it is visually added. The lack of walls and smoothness of lines contribute to visual interpretation of the lightness and limpidity of the construction. It is not seen as a monolith but rather as a spider’s net – natural and comprehensible.
The mentioned above lightness and an ability to harmonize with the surrounding buildings and general panorama are created through the use of concrete and glass. Therefore, artificial light is minimal, lights placed on each of the exterior supporting beams to illuminate it at night, while natural light fills the space during the daytime. Thus, through a neutral adaptive to the daytime color, the harmonizing effect is reached. Class B concrete was used to create the slabs and triangular columns, full of imperfections and pockmarks that allude to the diversity of the buildings that surround it. The thin steel cable makes up the railings; this cable is so thin that it becomes nearly invisible when viewed from a distance. This allows it to seem much more open than it truly is, still achieving the effect of magnificence set out by Herzog & De Meuron. By making cables nearly invisible, the edges of the slabs become more vivid and concrete. On the background of the clear blue sky and no other building of the same size, the construction looks like the main attraction of the look. It is made to concentrate attention and admiration as a piece of art; edginess of slaps and limpidity of cables contribute to it (Broome).
The concept of the free plan by Le Corbusier is one of the primary elements of this building – the load-bearing columns are separated from the walls; in fact, there are no walls, the entire structure being held up by the columns that connect the cast-in-place concrete slabs comprising the floor plates. The main reason why vertical supports do not align vertically is in a visual effect they create. If supports were aligned vertically, they would make the whole construction square, and it would lose its current slimness and delicacy of forms. It would not stand out for its visual height and artistic appearance; it would look like a box.
Another characteristic feature of the building is it’s siting in the context of city culture and socio-economic message it carries. The building is constructed not only for the esthetic and cultural benefits but also for the cognitive and educative purposes. It depicts a transformation of the city. From the previous reserved building of the bank, the premises had transformed into a transparent and accessible place for the visitors. The heaviness of materiality was substituted by the lightness of art and esthetic beauty. From the perspective of the city itself, the building gives an opportunity to view a magnificent panorama from all floors and the roof. In this context, the main purpose of the building is in cultural content. According to Merret, the building was not designed for mere shopping but also for the cultural and artistic benefits (Broome). This also emphasizes the return of the modern society from consumerism and materialism to esthetics and art.
The mentioned above accessibility is even more astonishing since the circulation is extremely complicated consisting of two spiral ways: one for pedestrians, entering from the Lincoln Road, and another one for cars, from the Alton Road. Alternatively, unenclosed, sculptural stairs run through the center of the building, permitting panoramas of the entire building as one walks up or down it. There are destinations at both ends (the restaurant at the top, the retail stores at the bottom) giving sufficient reason to run the length of the building. There is another shopping center at the fifth floor, creating further pedestrian traffic and circulation; there are multiple places throughout the building that one can go (Arcspace).
The effect that 1111 Lincoln Road has on its surroundings is small, but noticeable. Because it is open, it does not obstruct the skyline, allowing pedestrians and drivers to see the rest of the city while still noticing the collection of concrete slabs that comprises the 1111 building. This makes it look a lot more flimsy and thin than the rest of the buildings around it. The most noticeable difference between this building and the rest is that the others are much more conventional, closed-faced and concrete buildings, making the 111 building seem slight in comparison (Goldberger).
At the same time, the 1111 building, like the others, is made of concrete and glass; the use of class B concrete connects it viscerally with its neighbors, but it uses these materials in a more interesting way. By opening up the entirety of the structure, with the exception of the ground floor shopping center, people outside can look in at the contents and people within the car park, which is unique to a structure that is meant to hide the cars from theft and cluttering of the landscape. With the 1111 building, however, cars are meant to be part of architecture, each new vehicle becoming a vital component of the aesthetic that the designers intended (Goldberger). This contributes to the comprehension of the uniqueness of the building’s appearance. Although he structure remains the same, the constant flow of the various cars contributes to the changeability of the building itself. Just as cars would changes with time, depicting the tendencies of their time, the image of the building would change with them.
In conclusion, the 1111 building provides a unique and innovative change in the surroundings of Lincoln Road and the city while still maintaining a basic aesthetic connection in its materials. Turning the old SunTrust building into a thing of architectural beauty, the architects varied the height of each level and created uniquely angled walkways and columns that come together to form a single piece that is flimsy in appearance but dynamic in design. The transformation the old building had endured and its current appearance symbolize the socio-cultural meaning of the location and tell the story of this area and the city in general. All in all, the open space provided by the 1111 building is just the most prominent of many elements that make it stand out on this stretch of Miami road.
Arcspace. "Herzog & de Meuron - 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida." Arcspace. N.p., 20 Sept. 2010. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.
Broome, Beth. "1111 Lincoln Road | Herzog & de Meuron." Architecture Design for Architects. N.p., 1 June 2010. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.
Goldberger, Paul. "Herzog and de Meuronâ€™s 1111 Lincoln Road, in Miami." The New Yorker. N.p., 9 Aug. 2010. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.