Preserving a Natural Refuge
Far from South Beach’s crowds and high-rises is one of Miami Beach’s largest parks, the North Shore Open Space Park. A 30-acre lush open space, the park lines a luxurious half-mile stretch of Miami Beach’s North Beach neighborhood. Unlike its counterparts down south, the park is characterized by the community’s relaxed and family-oriented vibe and has become a beloved natural refuge mostly frequented by locals.
The park was originally established in the 1950s when the City purchased and demolished a series of villas on the highly sought-after site. As beloved as the park is, it has over the years suffered from neglect. Due to lack of funding, the park did not receive proper landscaping and as a result, an abundance of native foliage – sea grapes, palm trees, and non-native flora – developed.
The revitalization and re-development of the park have become hot-topic issues among residents who are extremely vocal in maintaining the integrity of their neighborhood in redevelopment projects. To bring the park back to its glory days and re-design it for the future, award-winning urban design and landscape architecture firm West 8 was engaged. The firm also designed public spaces for the Miami Beach Soundscape Park, the Miami Beach Convention Center, and is currently working on private gardens at the Renzo Piano-designed Eighty Seven Park, which is adjacent to North Shore Open Space Park.
“Extensive research, analysis of the site and context, and engagement with stakeholders and City staff helped us to understand North Shore’s history and current state,” shared West 8. “Our vision is to transform this neglected open space into a stunning waterfront park rooted in sustainability, connectivity and tranquility.”
With a multi-disciplinary approach to complex design issues, West 8 has extensive experience in large-scale urban master planning and design, landscape interventions, waterfront projects, parks, squares and gardens. For North Shore, the team identified several key challenges that the design would address, such as overgrown plantings, poor sightlines, and worn-out facilities.
In West 8’s design, much of the existing flora is protected and all new trees and plants are resilient to Miami’s salty and windy coastal conditions. The design also improves visitor safety by trimming the current dense vegetation, which will also allow for open view corridors toward the Atlantic Ocean.
The design also calls for clear and welcoming entry points to anchor the park into the urban framework. A series of alluring pathways will weave through the lush foliage, restored open lawns and sports facilities, and a permeable new boardwalk will connect Miami Beach’s north and south ends. To protect the park from rising sea levels, the natural dune ecosystem set along the park edge will be preserved and enhanced.
“Our design provides the community with a beautiful and functional green space that will endure the test of time and, in true North Beach fashion, stays true to the neighborhood’s integrity of embracing nature over development,” added West 8.
As a Miami Beach-based publication, we are thrilled to see this beautiful space reinvigorated and made more sustainable and resilient. We’ll certainly enjoy the verdant oasis once it opens to the public in 2020!