Inspired Design in Sunny Isles Beach
Cross-Discipline Design Collaboration
Benefits of Creative Design in Engineering Projects
After the City of Sunny Isles Beach lost confidence in their existing contractor, they reach out to the SAFEbuilt team to complete the design and permitting of the North Bay Pedestrian Bridge. Our initial task was to complete the design as it was originally conceived – building a vehicular access and pedestrian bridge exclusively for use by pedestrians and emergency-response vehicles to connect the western portions of the City without the need of traversing Collins Avenue. This is because Collins Ave is perpetually congested and increases the emergency response time for services, while posing a risk for children and parents commuting through the City and to the adjacent school.
The scope of work included program management, bridge and engineering design, and construction administration services for the standard FDOT-bridge. However, knowing and working with the City for over 10 years, we knew there was the potential (and the desire) for something more than just a bridge– it could be a landmark.
This is when the City engaged our Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Department to help with solution-building and elevated the project from a ‘vehicular bridge’ to a ‘community asset,’ thus increasing its worth to the community beyond just a mode of transportation and into a destination.
By CARING about the project’s innate benefits of the untried opportunity, the team was able to best understand the inherent values of the project and materialize what additional, unexpressed virtues the project provided. This included thinking about the project as not just a bridge, but as an infrastructure asset: an urban infrastructure, cultural infrastructure, branding infrastructure, and connective infrastructure. From this perspective, a design narrative was shaped; now making this project an opportunity for the City to provide tangible, quality-of-life improvements that would benefit the immediate community.
While the impetus for the project was emergency vehicle access, it was also important to see the daily potential for pedestrian benefits and the impact that the design changes could have on the daily lives of the City’s residents. The new infrastructure would essentially eliminate the three-quarters-of-mile of travel distance needed to walk around the channelized inlet by connecting both segments of North Bay Road – that’s a reduction of a 15- to 20-minute walk distance. The result: residents can now comfortably walk or bike to neighborhood services, get their groceries, access restaurants and shop at the local commercial areas without the need to drive their cars; children can now have a safer route to walk or bike to school; and residents required to walk to Temple because of religious customs can now do so in a more comfortable and pleasant environment.
As a result, the project was re-understood as a ‘place’ first, a pedestrian amenity second, and an emergency access last. The design was refocused to create a park-like setting with planting and seating that would appeal to pedestrian use and would promote lingering. A strong branding strategy was embedded within the hardscape design that reinforced the concept of using infrastructure as a recreational asset and in turn has established it as a landmark within the City.
Today the project stands as a successful testament to the ability of our SAFEbuilt team to work together to increase our project’s potential, beyond what our clients are able to derive while working with other firms. The project now exemplifies the added value that SAFEbuilt brings to the table when our team is engaged and when functional and aesthetic design is made a central and pivotal component of the delivery of our services. The project can still meet its original goals of providing access for shorter emergency vehicular travel distances, while also being a space where people choose to engage with, to hang out at, and to associate with.