Exterior Skin Design for the Wynwood Mixed-Use Building and Parking Garage
Design FAULDERS STUDIO; Thom Faulders, Flori
Kryethi, Andrei Hakhovich, Gregory Hurcomb, Holly
Hodkiewicz, Marianna Diaz, Taylor Metcalf, Mai
Yamada, Clara Tresgallo, Stephanie Thompson;
building architect: Wolfberg Alvarez & Partners
Picture credits Moris Moreno Photography;
aerial drone view photo: courtesy of Goldman
Properties; images: FAULDERS STUDIO
We designed permanent architectural skin for a new 8-story building in Miami, Florida. The 250,000 sq. ft. Wynwood Garage includes retail spaces on its ground level, offices at the top floor level, and public parking within its intermediate levels (designed by another local architect of record). Construction was completed in December 2018. Formerly a manufacturing neighborhood, the Wynwood Arts District today is the creative arts hub of Miami. Attracting visitors from around the world to explore and photograph its renowned mural scene, this edgy part of the city is home to the highest concentration of street art in the U.S. Murals visually overtake every building, forming a 3-dimensional canvas that changes over time with the repainting of walls. The combined effect is an amorphous setting that never stops evolving. Amidst an increased presence of urban renewal, the new facade aims to merge optical and spatial layering to actively resonate with this painted city-space.
Architecture that Reveals Its Origins
Since 2009 the project author has explored architectural strategies for growing buildings through nature-based material methodologies. Our GEOtube Tower speculative project for Dubai is borne from regional salt crystallization from the Persian Gulf, and literally grows its exterior walls over the course of 50+ years. This demonstrates the possibility for buildings to ‘tell their own story’ of their making in public display. Our Bryophyte Building proposal absorbs moss spores from the air to accumulate and construct a soft exterior building envelope. Both projects were exhibited in Naturalizing Architecture for ARCHILAB 2013 at FRAC Centre, Orleans, France. The GEOtube Tower and its material explorations are a part of the permanent collection of FRAC Orleans, and was exhibited in part in the Oslo Triennale in 2013. For the Wynwood Garage building skin, similar concepts for timebased emergent material properties inspired our design direction. While the building surfaces remains fixed, it partakes in the rapid layering of painted surfaces surrounding its elevations via a similar means of optical take-over: form is experienced a flattened surface containing non-architectural narratives within. If the traditional differentiation between the drawing of a building (representation) and the realization of the building (actualization) is eliminated, might this reveal its origins?
Occupy the Drawing
Foregoing the typical design method that would produce a drawing of a building, we alternatively situated the drawing directly on the building. As a two-sided canvas intended to be experienced differently from inside and outside, this 46,166 sq. ft. skin continuously wraps its four primary elevations. Contrasting outlines are ‘drawn’ throughout this surface via high-precision cutouts, to be further subdivided into a painted aluminum matrix of 1,1546 unique panels (a typical panel approximates 3.5ft wide x 11ft tall). Erasing legible differentiation between solid spandrel and car park openings, the concrete building is painted shadow-dark gray behind the suspended skin – a necessary innovation that transforms the envelope into an interdependent twolayer system. A spatial reversal takes place inside: perforations once perceived as solid geometries transform into open inlets of light and air, and the white background optically recedes as a darkened field. Framed by floor plates and column bays, a linear gallery of zoomedin shapes and figures is displayed, crafting the skin unique to each parking space, and inviting visitors to peer onto pixelated views of
the city outside.
Understanding that ‘car-park-brutalism’ would be incongruous with this nuanced context, the façade’s free-form pattern offers a nonnarrative effect: the softened outlines hover between recognizable shapes and unfamiliar forms, resist definitive naming, and cast the viewer into an active role of visual interpreter. Ranging in size from three feet to more than six stories in height, irregular polygonal shapes are bordered by slotted perforations and elevated fins. This network of fissured ‘sight-lines’ perpetuates a visual meandering throughout the street-oriented elevations and back to the city. From afar, porous surfaces appear to be smooth planes of gray, and boundary lines look solid and continuous. Upon close proximity these geometries shape-shift into a more subtle yet actual texture of spatial data: hand-size dots and dashes that penetrate the surface to provide daylight inside.
With a non-repeating pattern across the entire façade, we use geometric shape-shifting to perceptually alter the visual scale of the building. Delineated outlines are more expansive higher up, and address visual registration from a distance. At closer proximities the façade’s pattern blends with the urban texture of the neighborhood; and nearer to street level, focused areas of articulation guide the eye downward to pedestrian street activities. The result is a loose-fit relationship that intentionally contrasts with interior floor levels, and reinforces the ubiquitous misalignment between painted shell and contained functionality found throughout Wynwood’s architecture.