Technicolor Tower of Lights Will Crown a New Silicon Beach

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Developer Michael Simkins’ recently-announced Miami Innovation Tower—which local media has been sloppily characterizing as a ‘giant LED billboard’ planting a stake in the desolate, long-neglected Overtown/Park West neighborhood—will be the centerpiece of a seven million square foot megaproject. The new urban city center will rival the biggest construction undertakings Miami has ever seen, and the project’s designers at SHoP Architects say technology is the driving idea, who are well practiced in NYC megaproject building. (See SHoP’s Atlantic Yards and the Domino refinery redevelopments.)

If Simkins and SHoP see their vision realized, the Miami Innovation District will be a 4-square-block, high-density Miami version of California’s Silicon Valley.

“It’s about the idea of investigation, research, knowledge transfer,” says Bill Sharples, the principal-in-charge of the project at SHoP. The designers of the Innovation District are “thinking about the commercial growth of Miami,” as an almost entirely residential building boom of condo towers accelerates all around them. More affluent residents now means more demand in the tightening office market next.

“True innovation today requires the very thing that cities, at their best, have always provided: creative proximity” says the press release. Ensconced in between Miami Worldcenter, All Aboard Florida’s MiamiCentral, I-395, and the NAP of the Americas—that bunker-like building that handles the significant majority of internet traffic to and from Latin America—the master plan is sort of a cross between Brickell City Centre’s skybridges and Worldcenter’s mega amenity deck, with the organically-shaped overhead infrastructure of SHoP’s Barclay’s Center stadium in Brooklyn.

An array of towers will be linked together by this swiss-cheese-like aerial ‘green roof’/amenity deck platform. The centerpiece, of course, is the ‘Innovation Tower,’ which is not an LED Vegas-style ‘Celine at the Coliseum’ rectangle in the sky. According to how Sharpies describes the end result, it will be more akin to the Eiffel Tower on a very chill Bastille Day, or maybe a cross between the InterContinental Hotel’s LEDs and the Miami Tower’s, about 15 blocks south. The ‘observation deck’ that Curbed skewered is actually an elevated winter garden, and the lighting system is still being designed, but no, it likely won’t just be plain old LEDs.

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