UM College of Engineering Partners with the City of Miami Beach

Students to Design Three Sustainable Projects

In collaboration with the City of Miami Beach, students at the University of Miami College of Engineering are developing sustainable designs for three properties. Civil, architectural and environmental engineering students are working in interdisciplinary teams on project designs for Maurice Gibb Park, the current site of Fire Station #1 and the Byron Carlyle Theater, with the city as their client.

For these senior design projects, the students’ designs must, at a minimum, meet LEED Gold standards, with an emphasis on resiliency and sustainability. They must also address sea-level rise adaptation and climate-change mitigation, meet the local community’s needs and, of course, adhere to Miami Beach city code. Finally, this course supports the recent city/university partnership in the MetroLab Network for the Smart Cities initiative, which promotes innovative research for sea-level rise adaptation.

The students began working on their designs early this semester after site visits with their client, the city. “We met with the city of Miami Beach to obtain guidance, but we also have interviewed local residents and businesses to determine their needs for the area. It is very rewarding and relevant working with real-world problems and especially with a local municipality to provide implementable solutions,” said Michael Notarfrancesco ’17, a senior with the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.

The design projects will conclude when the students present their proposals to Miami Beach officials, industry advisory board and consultants in early 2017.

“The City of Miami Beach continues to serve as a living

Miami Beach
Miami Beach

laboratory. This collaboration with the College of Engineering on this project gives us a new perspective on how to design our community, using the latest techniques and theories,” said Elizabeth Wheaton, director of Miami Beach’s Department of Environment and Sustainability. “We expect the students to deliver designs that will enhance and showcase the city’s sustainability and resiliency efforts.”

For students, this collaboration is an opportunity to work with a real client on projects with multiple stakeholders and complex requirements. “Students from all different engineering majors are participating in this project. We are incorporating innovative designs and technology that are not used in today’s buildings to save costs and resolve pressing issues such as resiliency, rising sea levels, electricity, etc.,” said Michelle Stanley ’18, an undergraduate student in the five-year Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree program in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.

“The City of Miami Beach is one of the nation’s most forward-thinking on the topic of sustainability,” said College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet. “This represents an incredible opportunity to work with a client on the forefront of this engineering frontier. I expect that our students and faculty will learn from the city while also sharing new ideas and cutting-edge perspectives with the city.”

About the three projects:

Maurice Gibb Park is located in the Sunset Harbour

Maurice Gibb Park
Maurice Gibb Park

neighborhood. The city has charged the students with providing world-class park amenities while also considering upgrading the park’s existing marine patrol, indoor/outdoor community multipurpose space, a water-taxi stop, a new stormwater management pump station, and a living shoreline integrated with upgrades to the existing seawalls. Their design is required to include an environmental lab for tracking air and water quality, real-time weather and transportation data. The park’s operation must be sustained by renewable energy.

For the Fire Station #1 project, the students will design a

Fire Station #1
Fire Station #1

use for the land that currently holds the fire station, which the city has proposed relocating. The students may choose to preserve the current site or propose a new structure and/or land use for this site, which is in a low-lying historic district. The city is interested in a number of potential uses, including affordable housing, a parking garage that may be converted into affordable housing in the future, an office/retail/residential mixed-use project, a resiliency demonstration lab or a wastewater treatment/reclamation facility. The design must also integrate a wastewater pump station located adjacent to the firehouse.

The Byron Carlyle Theater, on Miami Beach’s 71st Street commercial corridor, is currently used as storage

Byron Carlyle Theater
Byron Carlyle Theater

space by the city. The adjacent O-Cinema is in use as a theater. The city is interested in some type of mixed-use project that includes a theater or cultural arts center. It may be a retail/restaurant/office project, one that combines a cultural arts center and residential tower, or it might combine a theater, exhibition hall and community education center. The city is particularly interested in uses that include affordable housing for the local workforce. It is also encouraging on-site vegetable gardens and a sustainability and resiliency demonstration lab.

About the City of Miami Beach
Miami Beach blends the pleasures of island living with that of a sophisticated metropolis. The 7.2-square-mile city is the pulse of South Florida, from walkable neighborhoods, white-sandy beaches, clear aquamarine waters and an extensive park system to its rich Art Deco and MiMo architectural history and diverse entertainment and cultural offerings. Miami Beach is where everyone wants to come to live, work and play.

About the University of Miami College of Engineering
The University of Miami College of Engineering’s mission is to create new knowledge, re-create knowledge for education, translate knowledge for commercialization and provide exemplary service to the community. One of 11 schools and colleges at the University of Miami, the College offers undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of the University of Miami family, the College strives to develop future leaders of the nation and the world. For more information about the University of Miami College of Engineering, please visit