This architectural rendering shows the newly unveiled design for the Port of Miami tunnel gateway and accompanying landscaping on Dodge Island.
Image 1 of 5 An architectural rendering shows the design by Miami's Arquitectonica for the Port of Miami tunnel portal on Watson Island. Arquitectonica/Miami Access Tunnel
Image 2 of 5 This architectural rendering shows the location of the Port of Miami tunnel entryway, glowing orange at the top, on Watson Island. Across the road is the Miami Children's Museum. Arquitectonica/Miami Access Tunnel
Image 3 of 5 In this architectural rendering, eastbound evening traffic on the MacArthur Causeway zooms by the Port of Miami tunnel gateway on Watson Island. Arquitectonica/Miami Access Tunnel
Image 4 of 5 This architectural rendering shows the landscaping plan surrounding the Port of Miami tunnel entry on Watson Island. Arquitectonica/Miami Access Tunnel
Image 5 of 5 PhotosGrand entryways approved for Port of Miami tunnel
BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI
An evocative and distinctly modern design for the Port of Miami tunnel entryways —reminiscent of an Egyptian temple front — on Friday won the enthusiastic endorsement of a Miami-Dade County review committee that had rejected two previous proposals by the project’s contractors. Praised by committee members as simple yet elegant, the twin, raw-concrete portals unveiled by Miami Access Tunnel, the concessionaire building the project, would each rise as a pair of slender, offset monoliths over Watson and Dodge islands to mark the tunnel entry and exit points. The portals, which would glow at night from internal lighting emerging from crevices at their centers, sides and tops, would have Latin variations of the word “navigate’’ inscribed in patterns on their concrete faces in a classic Century Gothic font. On the MacArthur Causeway approach, the design also calls for vertical strips on the lateral highway retaining walls that would reflect cars headlights in orange and blue, the colors of the city of Miami and the port, respectively.
The portals, by the homegrown multinational design firm Arquitectonica, also include extensive landscaping consisting of clumps of palms and other low-maintenance, hardy native plantings on both the MacArthur Causeway and Port Boulevard. On Watson Island, the project also comprises a low-slung “village’’ of above-ground structures behind the portal to house tunnel administrative offices, maintenance facilities and generator and equipment rooms. The buildings’ roofs would be covered with grass.At its rear, where it rises over the village, the Watson portal monolith would have a sharp fold “like origami,’’ said Arquitectonica principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia.“He has transformed an elephant into something beautiful,’’ said Florida Department of Transportation district chief Gus Pego. Port director Bill Johnson was also effusive. MAT brought in Arquitectonica — the firm responsible for the American Airlines Arena, numerous Miami towers and the Miami Children’s Museum located by the tunnel entrance on Watson Island — to completely redraw the portals after the county Transportation Aesthetics Review Committee twice rejected previous designs as drab and unimaginative. MAT vice president Christopher Hodgkins said contractors have not yet come up with cost figures, but said the concessionaire’s deal obligates it to build the portals as part of its roughly $1 billion project budget. The portals are not merely decorative, Fort-Brescia noted. They also enclose massive flood gates that would drop down to seal off the tunnel as a hurricane approaches.
Fort-Brescia said his design team also faced additional constraints: MAT and FDOT wanted an imposing design, but nothing so dramatic as to distract motorists approaching the tunnel entryways. “There was a concern about the building calling too much attention to itself,’’ he told the committee. “We tried to do something with some artistry without being explosive. It’s not a structure where you want people stopping to take pictures.’’The navigation theme ties together not just the “universe of ports’’ to which the Miami port is connected around the world, but also the cars approaching the tunnel and the jets flying over the bay, Fort-Brescia said, and he chose Latin as a sort of international lingua franca.Committee member James Kanter also praised the portals for managing to at once evoke the classically inspired 1920s architecture of Miami, the Art Deco of the 1930s, and the mid-century Miami Modern flair of Fointainebleau Hotel architect Morris Lapidus, in a contemporary design.The controversial tunnel, now being drilled by a massive boring machine, is designed principally to ease truck access to the port. It will consist of two separate tubes running side by side from Watson Island under Government Cut to the port. Each tunnel will have two lanes of one-way traffic. FDOT is now building two new lanes in the middle of the MacArthur Causeway bridge to connect the tunnel entry and exit portals on Watson island to Interstate 395.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/10/2635451/grand-entryways-approved-for-new.html#storylink=cpy