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18 November 2019

Curtis + Rogers Design Studio to Redesign Miami’s José Martí Park

City of Miami and Van Alen Institute Announce that Curtis + Rogers Design Studio Will Lead Climate-Adaptive Redesign of Miami’s José Martí Park

City to Implement Park Construction as Part of the Miami Forever Bond

(Miami, FL and New York, NY—November 18, 2019)—The City of Miami and Van Alen Institute today announced that award-winning landscape architecture firm Curtis + Rogers Design Studio will lead the creation of a climate-adaptive redesign for José Martí Park, a popular but flood-prone 13-acre public facility on the Miami River in the City’s Little Havana neighborhood. The City has committed $940,000 for the early phases of the park redesign and will manage implementation and construction, which is anticipated to begin in 2022. The project is part of the Miami Forever Bond, the $400M, voter-approved program that aims to make Miami more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The selection of a team to redesign José Martí Park is part of Keeping Current: A Sea Level Rise Challenge for Greater Miami, a series of projects developed by Van Alen Institute seeking innovative solutions to protect South Florida’s six million residents from the potentially catastrophic consequences of sea level rise. In addition to providing consulting services to develop the project and support community engagement, Van Alen has contributed $60,000 to the City for the design team’s fees.

“Building a more resilient city is a top priority of my administration, so we’re excited to partner with Curtis + Rogers Design Studio on the adaptive redesign of José Martí Park,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “Hopefully, their work will become a model for future resilience projects along our expansive waterfront.”

“José Martí Park serves as ground-zero for how sea level rise impacts us citywide, especially along our waterfront,” said District 3 Commissioner Joe Carollo. “This adaptive redesign is expected to set the standard for how the city confronts the flooding issues brought about by sea level rise.”

“At Van Alen, we understand that neighbors knowing neighbors is as important to climate adaptation as structural flood mitigation,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute. “We’re confident that Curtis + Rogers Design Studio will create a community-centered design and we commend the City of Miami for their embrace of this forward-looking pilot project.”

“It’s time we make fundamental changes to how we design and build in South Florida,” said Aida M. Curtis, Founding Principal, Curtis + Rogers Design Studio. “Through science-based design and action, we must weave the natural systems back into the urban environment.”

Situated on the Miami River in Little Havana and near Downtown Miami, José Martí Park is a beloved space and part of everyday life in the surrounding community, a primarily low income neighborhood with an Area Median Income (AMI) of approximately $15,000. It experiences significant flooding during seasonal high tides, heavy rainstorms, and storm surge events, a challenge faced by many other similar sites throughout South Florida. With the selection of Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, a minority-owned firm with extensive experience in the City of Miami, the José Martí Park redesign will prioritize the needs of the Little Havana community. The design can also be replicated at sites with similar environmental conditions across the region and nationwide.

About Curtis + Rogers Design Studio

Founded in 1991, Curtis + Rogers Design Studio has extensive local experience with public urban design projects for the City of Miami, Miami Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation. The design team for José Martí Park will be led by Aida M. Curtis, ASLA, a registered landscape architect with more than 35 years of experience in Miami-Dade County. A dynamic and powerful leader in design, Aida M. Curtis has overseen waterfront improvements at Alice Wainwright Park (Miami, FL) and the redesigns of Bayfront Park (Miami, FL) and Garden of the Arts (Hialeah, FL), among many other projects in the Greater Miami area.

As part of the design team, Curtis has assembled an expert group of architects, engineers, planners, and scientists with local and global experience in resilience planning and implementation. This team includes representatives from Arcadis (Miami, FL), The CLEO Institute (Miami, FL), Cummins & Cederberg (South Miami, FL), E Sciences Incorporated (Orlando, FL), FIU – Sea Level Solutions Center (Miami, FL), Local Office Landscape and Urban Design (Brooklyn, NY), and Touzet Studio (Miami, FL).

Community Engagement

Participatory design is central to the José Martí Park project. In Spring 2018, Van Alen convened residents and business owners to help create community engagement events and act as ambassadors for the program. The members of this Project Outreach Team are: Carlos Dulzaides, Corporate Trainer, Hertz; Avra Jain, Owner, Miami River Inn; Madelyn R. Llanes, Director, Centro Mater; Barby Rodriguez, Public Outreach Specialist, EV Services, Inc.; and Ian Zink, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Miami.

With support from Van Alen, this team surveyed more than 200 community members to inform the scope of services asked of the architect team, held a large festival on the site to announce the solicitation to the community, and hosted a meet-and-greet with Curtis + Rogers Design Studio in José Martí Park on November 16.

About Van Alen Institute

At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than 125 years of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.

Keeping Current: A Sea Level Rise Challenge for Greater Miami is a project of Van Alen Institute that encompasses a series of initiatives seeking innovative solutions to protect South Florida’s six million residents from the potentially catastrophic consequences of sea level rise. To fund the initiative, Van Alen raised $850,000 from The Rockefeller Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Miami Foundation, Target, and Terra. Van Alen employs its expertise and network to help South Florida residents gain a better understanding of sea level rise and new ways to respond to their changing environment. This initiative builds upon Van Alen’s leadership in organizing projects that generate innovative solutions to complex climate change problems. After Hurricane Sandy, we worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop nearly $1 billion worth of infrastructural improvements in the Northeast region. We also recently worked in Lower Mississippi River Delta, where we collaborated with dozens of stakeholders to make the New Orleans region more sustainable over the next 100 years.

Media Contacts

Alisha Kim Levin, Director of Communications: press@vanalen.org