WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA (USA)
Client: West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and Van Alen Institute
Date: 2016 / 2017 / 2018
Status: First Prize – Ongoing
Program: urban design project reimagining downtown West Palm Beach as a dynamic, resilient waterfront city
Scope: Urban reactivation strategy addressing to the waterfront, the Banyan building and alleyways in the framework of Shore to Core international competition.
Open Shore project considers West Palm Beach as a balanced and connected human ecosystem in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Challenges are addressed and opportunities are developed in each of the specific proposals and, in the greater picture, the relation and integration between each new proposal and the existing city is carefully considered.
This project imagines the future West Palm Beach as a dynamic and inclusive downtown where activities and spaces are closely interwoven, providing access to a new urban waterscape, enhancing the city’s connection to the lagoon and bringing infinite possibilities of urban culture, economic development and leisure. In this vision, the waterfront plays a key role as the most representative and attractive space, and the Banyan Hub becomes a forward-thinking epicenter for urban reactivation.
The new waterfront hosts a wide array of outdoor activities and public spaces that enhance the urban experience and multiply the possibilities of interaction with the water. The project takes into consideration the needs of youth and elders alike in order to make a positive impact on the city as a whole and create a healthier living environment for all residents and visitors. The ecological and resilient design proposed here allows people to enjoy a more comfortable environment all year round: by coordinating natural elements and bioclimatic devices, each space will be characterized by a specific microclimate matched to the activities that will take place there. This will also help reconnect people to nature and to the uniqueness of the Lake Worth Lagoon. This climatic comfort and range of activities will foster social interaction, making the downtown more active and appealing.
The former garage is reimagined as a new focal point for activities in downtown. It will be open to the public day and night, from the ground floor to the public roof terrace. It will have an active presence in the city, attracting business and talent to create knowledge, cultivate culture and foster innovation. Its flexible configuration will allow different uses to coexist and evolve in time, and its design will ensure pleasant environmental conditions all year round while reducing the environmental impact and management costs.
The Great Lawn, already a central part to the city’s life, will become the ‘urban living room’ of West Palm Beach, a place to celebrate big civic events and at the same time enjoy routine activities like resting, meeting, eating or even working in the comfort of a well equipped and conditioned public space. This space will keep a wide, green yet durable esplanade at the center, while adding a shaded and fresh environment around it and two new singular plazas providing an innovative relation between public space and water.
The Meyer Amphitheater will become the ultimate space for huge urban events and all kinds of cultural activities such as concerts, theater plays, dance performances, etc. The existing space will be opened and equipped with a new ‘belt’ structure to protect the surroundings from sound and bring complementary leisure and dining activities into the area. It will also expand towards the water, increasing its capacity with a multi-purpose stage that will also become a landmark and reference point for the whole waterfront.
The alleyways will undergo a rapid activation process ranging from temporary interventions to the development of permanent structures and spaces to host new programs.
Walkability, security and comfort will be the first priorities to be addressed by means of active and passive climatic mitigation, new waste disposal and lighting systems, etc. Activities will disperse later into adjacent public spaces and buildings, and these revamped ‘passageways’ will become thematic routes connecting different parts of the city.