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by linda lee | May 6, 2010 | Lifestyle
"You complete me!” If Lincoln Road could talk, that’s what it would say about 1111, the megaproject at the western end of the street: a sinewy car park, illuminated at night like a vertical Stonehenge, and a new plaza equipped with 30-foot bald cypresses, water pools and an interactive, hurricane-proof, handicap-accessible artwork by Dan Graham. Oh, and new shops, a high-end blend of the hip, the offbeat, the foreign, the expensive and the taste-tested.
“Who’s done anything like this in Miami Beach, or anywhere?” exclaimed developer and art collector Craig Robins—and it isn’t even his project.
It’s the brainchild of Robert S. Wennett, president of UIA Management, an urban visionary who previously worked on five projects to revitalize downtown South Norwalk, Connecticut, and 15 in Washington, DC, all involving mixed use. Wennett believes the 1111 car park, designed by world-famous Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, will become a premier Miami destination. Robins thinks it trumps the Arquitectonica foliage-covered garage on Seventh Street and the Carlos Zapata garage and people mover at the Miami Beach Publix on West Avenue. “Each has been really well done and is an important part of the city,” he says. “Each of those is really strong, and this is an incredible addition.”
The seventh level of the car park is already being used as an event space, a Miami necessity. It can hold 500 people, and for a really big event, the entire building can be rented. (Those who have already entered into discussions include the White Party, Design Miami and, natch, the auto show.) Above that, a 5,200-square-foot private penthouse on the roof will be finished in August.
“The building interior is like a big stage that commands views of the surrounding city,” says Miami architect and historian Allan T. Shulman. “It seems cleverly configured that way, these split levels and double-height spaces. Maybe it’s a car park, but they look like decks, great spaces for entertaining.
“Miami Beach has a great tradition of challenging building types,” he continues. “Mixing uses, multiple and even strange new combinations of uses.” He lists as examples the Albion—a hotel with a semiprivate courtyard and retail— and the old Gulf station on the MacArthur Causeway (now gone), a radio station, bait shop, gas station and marina.
Shulman says the garage betrays one architectural tenet—“It certainly doesn’t perform like a traditional corner building”—but adds that it has challenged architects to “think in new ways.” It already has the popular vote.
“We’re finding a ton of people who are coming to it for the views,” Wennett says. “They’re taking photos. People are posing on the staircase, like a modeling shoot. It’s a public space, like a train station”—a very high-end train station. “A lot of sexy cars are coming here, fancy cars,” he says. “They are respecting how they park their Maseratis, their Bentleys. And then we have the store on the fifth floor.”
That store is Alchemist. Unlike its sister store at the other end of Lincoln Road, this one will sell only three names: Rick Owens, Maison Martin Margiela and Chrome Hearts, for that avant grunge, filthy-rich rocker look. Bonus: Your limo can drive up the ramps, right to the store, park next door and wait for you. No double-parking!
The rest of Wennett’s shops are street level, where he has upped the firepower of the brands already on Lincoln Road. It’s as if he said, “I see your Victoria’s Secret, and I raise you a Journelle,” the lingerie boutique that opened in February featuring La Perla, Stella McCartney, Myla, Fleur of England, Elle Macpherson and others.
He has brought in Osklen, a Brazilian brand for those who want to listen to samba while looking at sexy, fivebutton, stone-washed cotton Nirvana pants, as well as Artsee eyewear from the Meatpacking District in New York. “All by top designers, and vintage pieces,” Wennett says.
There’s also Nespresso, the Swiss coffee boutique and café; a Taschen bookstore designed by Philippe Starck, bringing joy to the hearts of design and architecture nuts; and a new Colombian design store called Inkanta, the first outside its home country. “It’s like the MoMA Design Store, or Mxyplyzyk in New York,” Wennett says. Items there include cool key holders (perfect for party favors or office gifts) ranging from $40 to $50, a Daisy wall clock from Karlsson of Holland for $190, and a really cute AM/FM radio for $75.
In March, MAC opened a MAC Pro shop at 1111 with a blowout party at—surprise, surprise— the seventh-floor event space featuring nude, painted models.
The parking garage is already a star of multiple fashion shoots. It has been used for a McDonald’s commercial and a Ferrari ad “with their latest million-dollar model,” according to Gary Pallaria, event and marketing consultant for 1111. He says movie scouts have even discussed shooting part of Transformers 3 there.
But there is even more at 1111. For those who think 8 oz. Burger Bar on Alton Road is the ne plus ultra of hamburgers, Wennett is bringing in Shake Shack, opening in June. This insanely popular Danny Meyer burger stand offers made-to-order milk shakes, custard “concretes,” cheese fries, Shack-ago dogs, floats, wine, beer and more.
The garage’s seventh floor has a 34-foot ceiling and is used as an event space; middle, developer Robert S. Wennett
How did Wennett land this paragon of hip, casual dining from New York? When Meyer flew to Miami last year for a guided tour, he says, “I was just completely blown away. Robert drove me all the way up to the top, and I couldn’t believe the view.
“The same way that 1111 is a people magnet,” Meyer says, “that’s what Shake Shack is.”
“People magnet” might be code for “very long lines,” for which the original Shake Shack in New York’s Madison Square Park is famous. But Meyer promises the Miami Shack won’t have long waits, as he has doubled the size of the kitchen. “And not only is there ample seating in an air-conditioned indoor space, but the line itself will move very, very quickly,” Meyer says. (That was two “verys.”)
The plaza, a joint project of Herzog & de Meuron and Miami landscape architect Raymond Jungles, packs a lot of signifiers in the space between 1111 and the Regal South Beach movie theater. The black and white Pedra Portuguesa pavers, a nod to Roberto Burle Marx’s sidewalks in Rio, are artistic and in good taste, albeit a challenge to women in stilettos and a genuine turn-off for skateboarders. It’s just as well: It will keep them from slaloming into Dan Graham’s glass-and-steel sculpture Morris, named for Morris Lapidus.
There’s really only one common complaint about 1111: As beautiful as it is, the parking garage is spoiled by the presence of parked cars.
photographs by robin hill