|A Tiny Bit of Grandeur|
|Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor;|
Icon Bay Park evolved from city-developer permits deal
Take a drive along Biscayne Boulevard, turn onto NE 28th Street, and travel east. When you cannot go any further, you’ve reached Icon Bay.
This new 43-story, 300-unit luxury condominium in the red-hot real estate Edgewater district in Miami has units on sale ranging from half a million up to two million dollars (see “Boom, Bust, Boom,” November 2016).
Opening in 2015, Icon Bay was built on the old Bliss House property, an early 20th-century structure torn down by developers in 2004. Built by the Related Group and designed by the award-winning architectural firm Arquitectonica, the massive concrete-and-glass structure has a wave-like façade design, mirroring its neighbor Biscayne Bay; its southern end is built on 25-foot columns, keeping living space high and dry.
In 2012 the Miami Herald reported that in exchange for city approval to build the tower on then vacant waterfront property and extend it over the cul-de-sac “T” at NE 27th Terrace, the Related Group had agreed to build a small public waterfront park at the site and have Icon Bay maintain the park for the city in perpetuity.
It was an innovative approach to increasing city park space, and “get developers to provide the parks by leveraging city development permits and underused public assets like alleys,” according to the Herald. For all involved, it was a win-win: Miami got a new park built on private land, and the Related Group got to build their condo on it and a former public street.
This public park -- Icon Bay Park -- is literally in the condominium’s backyard: 0.46 acres of fenced-in sculpture gardens, walking paths, a promenade, a dog park, and a bay view of the Miami Beach skyline, becoming the first new park in Edgewater in years.
Designed by ArquitectonicaGeo, the landscape design firm that has worked on projects at FIU, Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the PortMiami Tunnel, Icon Bay Park opened to the public in June 2015.
With approximately 200 feet of waterfrontage, it is planned to be part of the proposed Biscayne Line project that would connect baywalks along Biscayne Bay, from Albert Pallot Park near the Julia Tuttle Causeway to Museum Park to the south. Any new construction along the route would incorporate the public promenade.
ArquitectonicaGeo architects created a sustainable design that uses native and existing plants, and reduces water needs. The overall look is contemporary and playful, with a theme of ellipses repeated in every aspect of the design -- perhaps a symbol of unity, which adds to the park’s positive vibe. It’s an impressive and well-considered plan that is perhaps best appreciated from a vantage point overlooking the park from above.
Concrete footpaths circle around grassy oval gardens sprouting oaks and sabal palms with bushy fescue accents for a windblown effect that is also drought-resistant. The long bayside promenade is lined with coconut palms and has inlaid sparkly ellipses that catch the sunlight, making a stroll through the park more fun.
Three exercise stations dotted throughout the gardens are mounted on round pads. Cement benches are semicircular, and even a bicycle rack employs the theme, being made of two large metal hoops.
Dog lovers at Icon Bay and the surrounding neighborhood are happy to have a fenced-in/off-leash dog park here, albeit perhaps the smallest one in town and possibly the busiest. It, too, has an elliptical design, with a vertical metal-bar enclosure surrounding the traffic-worn sod. Inside there is a state-of-the-art pet waste station and a double-duty doggie/human water fountain, but its fence sign warning “All dogs must be on leash” is posted in the wrong area of the park.
The dog park, as well as the sculpture gardens and promenade, are busy with visitors and pets, and they don’t always obey the on-leash rule outside of the dog park. The second pet waste station within the sculpture gardens could be used more often by dog owners unwilling to pick up.
People do use the esthetically pleasing garbage receptacles, as there was no litter to be found on a recent BT visit. If they’re thirsty, there is another water fountain along the walkway. And if patches of grass and unity circles don’t excite them, maybe the artwork at Icon Bay Park will.
Four sculptures are integrated into the garden landscape, as well as two massive murals painted on each side of a large building support wall underneath the condominium. All the art was created for the park project in 2015.
Nicole Mouriño’s Kaleidoscope 87 is a mosaic sculpture finished with a floral-patterned encaustic Cuban tile. Created on a large disc-shaped surface, it is a good fit with the ellipse theme.
In the center of the park is a cluster of three stainless steel totems, Miami Forest, by YoungArts Foundation student scholars Nikolas and Michela Bentel. These New York brother/sister artists created stylized cutouts of native flora in the metal: buttonwood, gumbo limbo, and Pigeon Plum. The sculptures are internally lit for nighttime viewing.
Ukrainian-born artist Iliya Mirochnik was inspired by soaring birds. His dynamic aluminum and steel sculpture Dream of Flight features a flock of birds suspended overhead.
Odyssey was crafted by Carolina Sardi, a Miami-based artist. The painted aluminum, ocean-wave sculpture also functions as creative fencing throughout Icon Bay Park.
Greeting visitors at the condo building’s circular driveway is the mural Ablution by Lautaro Cuttica. His 27-by-33-foot artworks are painted on both the north and south sides of one support wall. The north mural seen at the entrance depicts a soft dreamlike seascape collage with figures in pastel blues, corals, and greens.
The south mural rests in a garden setting. Here Cuttica created several figures, one in a suit and tie, another wearing a swimsuit rising out of the water. His colors are contrasting purples and oranges, and sharp-edged geometric shapes meet elliptical shapes cut out of masonry, allowing you to peak through for glimpses of what’s on the other side of the wall, which becomes part of the mural scenes. Both paintings are prominently lit at night for an even more dramatic view.
Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2017
Miami’s YoungArts Week features masters as mentors
Sales, special events, and more from the people who make Biscayne Times possible