Art Basel’s many “hubs” illustrate Miami’s multi-nodal urban structure and the transit woes that go along with it.
On Thursday I went to an event in Downtown, dinner in Wynwood, and a bar in Mid-Beach. On Saturday I was at the Basel Show in South Beach, then to pop-ups in Mid-Beach, and finished the night at an event in the arts district. That’s what this past weekend was for many locals and tourists alike: navigating through the many activated hubs of Miami Art Week while trying their hardest to avoid the unavoidable gridlock.
This weekend was an illustration of Miami’s multi-nodal layout. Miami is made up of a series of nodes around which the cities major commerce and gatherings occur. These nodes are developed over time, and usually, have a historical catalytic project that helped to start or revitalize each particular one. In the case of Wynwood, we can look to Wynwood Walls project. In Mid-Beach, the recent addition of the Faena Hotel and the renovation of the Fontainebleau Hotel. Beyond the Art Basel Hubs, in Brickell, the creation of Mary Brickell Village, and in South Miami, the development of Sunset Place had similar effects in those neighborhoods. Finally, the Doral City Place and the related residential and commercial boom in the West part of the county.
The biggest question, urbanistically, is how can we serve our transit needs in a city that is as multi-nodal as Miami. Other cities like Seattle, Houston, Denver, and LA are facing similar questions in their transit plans with their own specific solutions and pitfalls.
When moving around Downtown Miami, the MetroMover easily navigates between the tight buildings. In downtown Coral Gables, the trolley and freebee systems allow people to access the neighborhood without stepping into their cars. But what if one wants to go from Coral Gables to Brickell? We need a dedicated infrastructure to get people from node to node. From Brickell to Coral Gables. From Wynwood to South Beach. From Little River to Coconut Grove. Until we figure out how to move people nodally and then locally, Miami will not solve its traffic woes. Most traditional transit infrastructures move people linearly, along axes, however, this is not the right answer for Miami.
Basel’s growth and popularity as arguably the most important international Art fair in the world shows Miami’s potential to be a truly global city. However, the way that the local government is treating transit will continue to hold the city back. Robot cars and light rails are not coming to save us from our woes. We need truly innovative thinking that is specific to our city. We should look at these nodes as an opportunity to create a new system of transit perhaps unseen before. A system that borrows from others, but notes Miami’s distinct problems and works within them. That way, hopefully, we can all go to more Basel events next time around.