1111 Lin­coln Road, Mi­ami.

Neue Luxury - - Front Page - By Ray Edgar


That’s the thing, says Mark Lough­nan, prin­ci­pal of HAS­SELL and for­mer as­so­ci­ate ar­chi­tect with Swiss-based ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice Her­zog & de Meu­ron (HDM) where he was in­volved in the de­sign phases of the carpark 1111 Lin­coln Road, “in an ideal world there is a pos­si­bil­ity to ex­pe­ri­ence that feel­ing in any pub­lic project.” We in­ter­viewed Lough­nan about his ex­pe­ri­ence on the early phases of the Lin­coln Road project, and his cur­rent thoughts on ar­chi­tec­ture and its process. RAY EDGAR: How did the project start and what was the client ask­ing for? MARK LOUGH­NAN: The client [de­vel­oper Robert Wen­nett] wrote a let­ter to 10 or 12 of his pre­ferred ar­chi­tects around the world with an idea about a project with a mixed used and car park pro­gram. He men­tioned af­ter­wards that he wasn’t sure that he’d get any re­sponse. He wanted to ques­tion and con­sider site and its im­pact on Lin­coln Road and how a carpark can be in­te­grated within the ur­ban realm. To many ar­chi­tects that was in­trigu­ing. It opened the door to de­sign, as there was no pre-de­ter­mined idea. He then flew around the world and in­ter­viewed and spent some time with the var­i­ous ar­chi­tects, be­fore de­cid­ing to en­gage HDM. The whole com­mis­sion­ing process was quite in­ter­est­ing. RE: It’s not just a carpark, were the apart­ment and shops part of the ini­tial pro­posal?

ML: Yes, the for­mer bank build­ing was partly re­de­vel­oped as well. The ground floor was re­de­vel­oped. The re­tail and en­trance to an el­e­va­tor pro­vided di­rect ac­cess to the rooftop restau­rant. The bulk of the build­ing was al­ready let by MTV Latin Amer­ica. The ground floor and roof were re­de­vel­oped with a sec­tion of the roof con­nected to the top-level carpark as a pri­vate res­i­dence. RE: How big was the team that was work­ing on this project?

ML: Prob­a­bly six to eight peo­ple. RE: Is that a lot? ML: No it was the right amount. When it went into the next phase there were prob­a­bly 8 or 10 and there was a lot of stud­ies and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. The project needed to work on many lev­els from its in­te­gra­tion with Lin­coln Road and its re­tail com­po­nent and we also had the psy­che of ‘let’s rein­vent the carpark. What can we do? What makes sense and what doesn’t?’ So there were a lot of ground-floor in­te­gra­tion and struc­tural, ac­cess, park­ing and cir­cu­la­tion gym­nas­tics to con­sider. RE­SEARCH DRIVEN RE: What do you mean by gym­nas­tics? ML: In terms of the carpark – test­ing the ra­tio­nale for why things are the way they are: ac­cess, turn­ing cir­cles, slopes of ramps, ease of move­ment and all these things. In Mi­ami the gen­eral reg­u­la­tion is that carparks should be clad so that they ap­pear as ‘build­ings’. We de­cided quite early on that we would ques­tion this re­quire­ment, and the no­tion of the car park in the con­text of Mi­ami. So we had an ap­proach that flipped the reg­u­la­tion on its head and said ‘We’re go­ing to cel­e­brate the car, and the move­ment of the car, and the move­ment of peo­ple.’ RE: How did you con­vince the coun­cil that cladding was sur­plus to re­quire­ments? ML: HDM stud­ied the whole con­text and con­tent of Lin­coln Road and Al­ton Road and the neigh­bour­hoods all the way to South Beach. We re­searched right back into the his­tory of the city. RE: In this case, pre­sen­ta­tions show im­ages of Lin­coln Road be­ing cleared of its trees in the late 19th or early 20th cen­tury. The irony raised is that even though trees had been felled to cre­ate Lin­coln Road, it was the only part of Mi­ami that had been con­verted into a tree-filled mall. ML: It’s much more com­pelling to put for­ward a pro­posal that you un­der­stand, as op­posed to just ‘pull this and twist that and there it is’. Un­der­stand­ing a his­tory is part of build­ing that story – that makes sense for this par­tic­u­lar project. What’s also im­por­tant – it’s a philo­soph­i­cal ap­proach – that each project is for its place. It’s for Lin­coln Road. RE: Why wouldn’t this carpark sit any­where else? ML: You could ask the same ques­tion of many projects. I think there’s a lot of rea­sons why 1111 works in Mi­ami. Mi­ami has an out­door cli­mate. It’s also part of the cul­ture of Mi­ami. It’s ‘here I am let me show you what I’ve got at­ti­tude’. Mi­ami is more like that than other cities, which are less overt.

I think it had been re­ferred to as ‘all mus­cle’. RE: Is per­son­i­fy­ing that mus­cu­lar beach cul­ture re­ally what the struc­ture was re­fer­ring to? ML: It came out of those early stud­ies and di­rec­tion not to clad the build­ing. Straight away it has a strong mus­cu­lar pres­ence. The struc­ture is the ar­chi­tec­ture. At HDM we had many study mod­els of a carpark struc­ture and they were all dif­fer­ent and had a dif­fer­ent ra­tio­nale. We clearly had to make it prac­ti­cal and ful­fil the clients brief for a mixed-use project (in­clud­ing a cer­tain num­ber of cars).

TEST­ING RE: Were the stud­ies wildly dif­fer­ent? ML: We looked at the vari­a­tion of floor height and tested the cir­cu­la­tion of cars and all vari­a­tions of driv­ing through the build­ing, for ex­am­ple, driv­ing up the mid­dle in a spi­ral, driv­ing on a whole se­ries of sloped plat­forms or ris­ing and cir­cu­lat­ing the perime­ter. The size of the car and ra­dius of the turn­ing cir­cle was a fac­tor. The build­ing would al­most re­act to the move­ment of the car. It was very ra­tio­nal in the end. RE: So the greater the height be­tween floor plates the steeper the ramp? ML: No, the ramp would sim­ply be longer to rise to that height and there­fore it might land in a dif­fer­ent space, which might have a mi­nor im­pact on the floor plate.

MIXED USE RE: Why did you want to make it mixed use? ML: It was part of the client’s brief. It’s also about con­text on Lin­coln Road and adding di­ver­sity of use and life. So the car park was a build­ing HDM were in­ter­ested in adding an­other di­men­sion to. Rather than just have sim­i­lar stratas, we thought it would be in­ter­est­ing to in­tro­duce a po­ten­tial for mixed pro­gram,

which also partly gen­er­ated the floor-to-floor heights. This di­vided it from a typ­i­cal car park en­vi­ron­ment and re­sulted in floors with a much more spa­cious and brighter en­vi­ron­ment, that could present op­por­tu­ni­ties for var­ied pro­grams. It could be used for re­tail and com­mer­cial out­lets through to cul­tural events. It’s also very much a build­ing for the arts. It’s also been used for fash­ion shows, wed­dings, yoga, fit­ness and ath­let­ics train­ing. RE: Is that be­cause of the view? ML: For many rea­sons, I think it’s a very dra­matic build­ing to be in. RE: How does it achieve that? ML: There is a gen­eros­ity of space and the out­look is great. Fer­rari had an event there where they filled the carpark with a col­lec­tion of Fer­raris that cel­e­brated their his­tory. RE: Are any ugly cars al­lowed in? ML: Of course, it’s a pub­lic carpark. The owner joked one day say­ing he might have a day where only white cars are al­lowed in, for ex­am­ple. The beauty of it is that be­cause of its aes­thetic na­ture and how open it is each time it fills up it’s an art piece or in­stal­la­tion in a way, be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent every time and it’s ex­posed. I’ve even heard taxi driv­ers are get­ting asked to di­vert through the carpark on their way to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions.

PUB­LIC BUILD­INGS Very few build­ings en­cour­age peo­ple to de­scribe them in such po­etic terms. It’s cer­tainly in­ter­est­ing and ques­tions many is­sues. The ty­pol­ogy of a carpark is that it’s a pub­lic build­ing – any­body can go into a carpark. You can’t say that about a lot of build­ings any more. With se­cu­rity and the changed world some­how – even mu­se­ums and of­fice lob­bies now scan you on en­try. There are the pub­lic squares, pub­lic civic build­ings, li­braries, and other cul­tural build­ings, and then there’s also carparks – maybe. It’s a ty­pol­ogy that is for any­body to en­ter. RE: Was this re­alised af­ter the fact? ML: These were all part of the early dis­cus­sions. I think that’s why all the ar­chi­tects were in­ter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing, be­cause of the na­ture and the preva­lence of the carpark in our ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments. There is also an in­ter­est­ing ar­chi­tec­tural pedi­gree of carparks around the world. RE: Which did you look at? ML: There’s quite a few in South Amer­ica. Sim­ply also just from an en­gi­neer­ing point of view there’s some beau­ti­ful carparks and very sculp­tural ob­jects. It’s a purely func­tional build­ing, but there’s no rea­son it can­not be en­gag­ing spa­tially and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing.

MA­JOR IN­SPI­RA­TION RE: A Detroit cin­ema that has been trans­formed into a carpark in­formed this project didn’t it? ML: There were many in­spi­ra­tions but it cer­tainly grabbed a piece of our imag­i­na­tion. It cre­ated a lot of dis­cus­sion about re-lif­ing, and just the drama of a carpark­ing lot in a the­atre is re­ally in­ter­est­ing, es­pe­cially in the Amer­i­can con­text. Again it’s this ev­ery­day, pub­lic build­ing put into a more cul­tural and spa­tial en­vi­ron­ment. RE: Did you try to bring that lit­eral the­atri­cal­ity into this project? ML: That’s part of it. Rather than get­ting sand­wiched in a dark nar­row base­ment you’re sud­denly in an en­vi­ron­ment that is re­ally pleas­ing to be in. It’s cel­e­bra­tory. You know those places where you go and just stand there and take it in again. It’s a place that’s com­fort­able. RE: Was Coop Him­mel­blau’s BMW World – or a show­room aes­thetic – an in­flu­ence? ML: Show­rooms were some­thing I never re­mem­ber com­ing up. It was never about de­lib­er­ately show­ing off the car.

SPA­TIAL EX­PE­RI­ENCE RE: HDM of­ten works with gal­leries like Lon­don’s Tate and Ser­pen­tine and artists like Ai Wei Wei. How im­por­tant is art to this par­tic­u­lar project? ML: Dur­ing my time at HDM on the Mi­ami project I can’t re­call spe­cific artists be­ing in­volved per se. Cer­tainly art was go­ing to be part of the pro­gram and the use, and po­ten­tial for the build­ing. We were look­ing at the op­por­tu­ni­ties for mixed use and art re­lated use as if this could be a cul­tural build­ing in a way. We never pre­sented it that way, but we al­ways hoped that it would have a di­verse life be­yond the car.

RE: Why is that? ML: It’s this whole idea of it be­ing a pub­lic build­ing with flex­i­bil­ity of use. One of the most in­ter­est­ing things about ar­chi­tec­ture – whether it’s a house or a carpark or a mu­seum or what­ever – are those mo­ments of up­lift and in­spi­ra­tion you ex­pe­ri­ence in a par­tic­u­lar place, for ex­am­ple the feel­ing you get when you walk into a cathe­dral. It could be a lot of dif­fer­ent things. It might just be the feel­ing of ma­te­ri­als. RE: So how do you achieve it? ML: It’s very dif­fi­cult and the client is a key com­po­nent.

CRE­ATIVE PROCESS RE: How do you set in place a process that al­lows you to cre­ate a great ex­pe­ri­ence? What ques­tions do you keep re­it­er­at­ing? ML: What is the client look­ing for? Who’s us­ing this build­ing? Who are the ac­tual users? Do they re­ally need what you are telling us they need? Do they re­ally need that much space? Do they need some­thing else? Do they need some­thing more? Do they need some­thing big­ger or smaller? Do they need some­thing al­ter­na­tive to that to give them some­thing else? Is there some other pro­gram that we can add to it? Is there a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing what you’re ask­ing us? There are many ques­tions and a great deal of di­a­logue.

THINK DIF­FER­ENTLY RE: Is it about be­ing dif­fer­ent and go­ing against the grain? Does every ex­pe­ri­ence have to be dif­fer­ent? ML: Well does every­thing have to taste the same? That would be pretty dull and bor­ing. Every­thing doesn’t have to be dif­fer­ent, but I think we cer­tainly look at every­thing in a dif­fer­ent way. We would never copy some­thing some­where and build it some­where else. LIFE­SPAN RE: Did you also con­sider the idea that ‘one day this carpark’s use will also change’? ML: As ar­chi­tects we of­ten think about that in build­ings we de­sign be­cause we’re aware that the life­span of build­ings is much less now – de­pend­ing on the build­ing ty­pol­ogy. The gen­eral of­fice build­ing may have a 30-year life­span, then it will get re­clad or even knocked down and re­de­vel­oped. Whereas a cul­tural build­ing might have a 100-year life­span or more. RE: Is that one of the ques­tions you ask? ML: Sure it’s an­other one of these pa­ram­e­ters about build­ings. A mod­i­fied carpark could be­come a some­thing else in the fu­ture – an of­fice build­ing at some point, or per­haps even res­i­den­tial. There are of­ten lots of po­ten­tial uses to con­sider in the fu­ture. The ma­te­ri­al­ity was a ques­tion and how do we build this. So con­crete was a topic and we de­cided early that this was the right ma­te­rial be­cause it was very much an in­te­gral ma­te­rial. It had mass and qual­ity and it was con­tex­tual to the Mi­ami ex­pe­ri­ence.

LUX­URY RE: How do you cap­ture or con­vey lux­ury, par­tic­u­larly in some­thing as util­i­tar­ian as a carpark? What sort of de­tail­ing and fin­ish do you pro­vide? ML: We talked about the ex­pe­ri­en­tial thing be­fore – smells and touch and the aes­thet­ics of some­thing. There’s the de­tail of a build­ing and there’s the ex­pe­ri­ence within. Lux­u­ri­ous in this con­text would have to be the space, and the aper­ture, the air, the free­dom and a new and sur­pris­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. RE: That’s a rare com­mod­ity in Mi­ami? ML: No, but it’s a lux­u­ri­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in terms of a beau­ti­ful carpark. Even the vis­tas from the dif­fer­ent floors and the ex­pe­ri­ence go­ing down open stairs. You don’t have to go in to an en­closed fire es­cape to get through the build­ing. You cir­cu­late through a pub­lic open stair­well. RE: So it’s not your typ­i­cal bunkered carpark stair­well? ML: There are art in­stal­la­tions all the way up and the balustrade is trans­par­ent and el­e­gant. RE: Ev­ery­one de­scribes its sculp­tural qual­i­ties. ML: Yes I think it’s very sculp­tural. That’s the other thing about us­ing a carpark. The process in­volves that you’re trans­fer­ring, turn­ing, ris­ing. This is re­flected in the struc­ture. So there’s this cel­e­bra­tion of move­ment and ex­po­sure. You can see peo­ple and ve­hi­cles mov­ing up and down and in and out. This was also part of re­defin­ing carpark­ing. You don’t have to be in a base­ment. You don’t have to have low ceil­ings. You don’t have to put peo­ple in a firestair. Peo­ple can sim­ply cir­cu­late safely and ad­e­quately through this open pub­lic en­vi­ron­ment. RE: Did that project change the way you worked or have you al­ways fol­lowed the same work­ing method­olo­gies? ML: Sim­i­lar method­olo­gies were used and with the client we were given some time where we worked to­gether de­vel­op­ing and dis­cussing ideas. RE: How long did you have? ML: The de­sign con­cept was prob­a­bly three months.

SIG­NA­TURE STYLE RE: Is it your ap­proach to be as open to as many ideas as pos­si­ble? ML: Yes. It’s also the phi­los­o­phy of de­sign here at HAS­SELL that there is no sig­na­ture an­swer. There are some de­sign­ers for ex­am­ple, who have a par­tic­u­lar style or sig­na­ture. You can some­times pick cer­tain ar­chi­tect’s build­ings rel­a­tively eas­ily be­cause of a par­tic­u­lar aes­thetic. I wouldn’t say I have a par­tic­u­lar phi­los­o­phy other than to be open. Each an­swer is slightly dif­fer­ent. That’s not to say that I don’t draw one from the other. There are cer­tain strings that go from this to this to this. RE: What would link, say, the de Young Mu­seum in San Fran­cisco, which you also helped de­sign dur­ing your time at Her­zog & de Meu­ron, to the Lin­coln Road carpark? ML: The one thing that prob­a­bly does go across those projects, is that na­ture of the pub­lic build­ing and what does that mean to how you de­sign it? And what other lay­ers can you add to it that pro­vides even more rich­ness or op­por­tu­nity or di­ver­sity of ex­pe­ri­ence or use or pro­gram? But there wasn’t any­thing from a par­tic­u­lar aes­thetic or piece of ma­te­rial, for in­stance.

I guess I’ve worked and been men­tored and now work in a par­tic­u­lar way – so I’m prob­a­bly more of the opin­ion that hav­ing a sig­na­ture style is al­most im­pos­ing some­thing, as op­posed to be­ing com­pletely open about a so­lu­tion. There’s clearly no ab­so­lute right or wrong way of de­sign­ing a par­tic­u­lar out­come. But my ap­proach is that ide­ally there is a ra­tio­nale for why some­thing’s done. It’s a col­lec­tion of ideas and pro­cesses that you try and nar­row down on a par­tic­u­lar re­sponse rather than throw­ing every­thing in and keep­ing it all in there. One of the nicest things about the pro­fes­sion is that every project is dif­fer­ent, so I be­lieve it shouldn’t have the same an­swer rein­ter­preted or re­lo­cated. There’s the client, the site, there’s city, there’s weather, there’s cul­ture, there’s ge­og­ra­phy – there’s hun­dreds of vari­a­tions on why a project could or couldn’t be some­thing. I be­lieve us­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach or sim­i­lar lan­guage is not as in­ter­est­ing as think­ing about it al­most as new each time. That’s not say­ing that you don’t take things from one to the other, or rein­ter­pret some­thing you did be­fore in a dif­fer­ent way.

That’s what’s great about the city, is the rich­ness and di­ver­sity of life. Life it­self is of course full of di­verse ex­pe­ri­ences.

THE RAW AND THE COOKED RE: Af­ter you put a team to­gether how do you know when your idea is right, ‘that’s it’? ML: There’s no recipe for how that hap­pens. Some­times an idea from within the team comes quite early or quickly that you’re happy to in­ves­ti­gate. Other times it can be a wres­tle and di­ver­sity of opin­ion over a longer pe­riod is ben­e­fi­cial. RE: Is there a risk of over­cook­ing things? ML: Some­times if you get the idea too early the trap is you can fuss too much on one idea rather than test things. There’s prob­a­bly a bal­ance be­tween too much and not enough. RE: How do you know when you have that bal­ance? ML: Each project is dif­fer­ent. RE: Is there a men­tor in the back­ground who’s in your ear when you worry about things? ML: Yes I told you my fa­ther died re­cently and I’ve been think­ing about that a lot. RE: Was he an ar­chi­tect? ML: No he was a doc­tor. RE: And what’s his phrase? ML: He’s got lots. ‘Pa­tience is a virtue’ is one of his favourites. RE: But how does that help your cre­ative process?

TIME IS A LUX­URY ML: Pa­tience doesn’t help the cre­ative process much [laughs] be­cause there’s of­ten no time. Time is an as­set that we seem to be los­ing in our pro­fes­sion. There’s of­ten not a lot of time for de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion and think­ing. RE: Why’s that? ML: Peo­ple don’t gen­er­ally want to pay for time un­for­tu­nately. RE: If time is the ‘lux­ury’ here, how would you spend it on a project and idea? ML: It’s time to think about and dis­cuss what you’re do­ing. Ques­tion things or test things or con­sider what the client wants, and what else can con­trib­ute to the process and out­come. Some of the dead­lines we have these days are very dif­fi­cult. On one hand the ex­pec­ta­tion is that the client and project team all agree we need to do the best we can, but some­times we’re col­lec­tively not given the time to do that. RE: What was the wildest idea in the dis­cus­sion of the carpark that stim­u­lated some­thing else? ML: There was al­ways lots of di­a­logue and a cer­tain ra­tio­nale. We couldn’t be too crazy be­cause we knew it was never go­ing to fly. But we cer­tainly tested and ques­tioned them as much as we could.

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