One Island Drive in Miami. Credit: Binyan Studios.

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Miami Leads the Way in Cities’ Evolution to Central Social Districts, says Forth Bagley

In an op-ed for the Miami Herald, the KPF Principal explores the mixed-use design features that have allowed the Florida city to succeed.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftereffects, as well as high borrowing costs, have fundamentally altered the nature of the Central Business District (CBD), resulting in low office occupancy rates in cities around the United States. But this isn’t the case in Miami. “Miami offers us clues for understanding why and how America’s CBDs must be urgently transformed to Central Social Districts (CSDs),” Forth writes. The key to creating CSDs is to prioritize community activity and varied programming. Miami has succeeded because it has “naturally diversified its economy, connected its downtown to regional centers via public transportation, expanded its green networks, and embraced high-density development and city life.” The result is a quintessential CSD with residents, office workers, and tourists. Forth leverages KPF’s growing experience in the city, referencing projects such as One Island Drive and Tower 36.

As technological, environmental, and political developments change, cities must adapt in order to grow. Forth notes that architects and urban planners must continue to update their practices to incorporate the newest technology and look ahead as they address environmental concerns and incorporate sustainable features into their design to better support city prosperity.

Forth closes by emphasizing the importance of strengthening governmental and physical connections to nearby urban centers: “All research indicates that when cities are networked with other cities, they all benefit.”