LOCATION: MIAMI, FLORIDA
ORGANIZER: DAWNTOWN COMPETITION
As both public art and aqueous architecture, the Miami Seaplane Terminal, known as the Stilted Buoy, is conceptually tethered to Miami’s memory of building and landscape in Biscayne Bay. Looking back to the future, the Stilted Buoy is inspired by the resilience of Stiltsville and the iconic aerial resonance of Jeanne Claude and Christo’s 1983 electric pink Surrounded Islands project.
In siting the seaplane terminal in the water, the project accepts the inescapable realities of nature by giving the land back to Biscayne Bay. The translucent terminal wing, propped out of the water, is designed to offer a new model for amphibious architecture, a modern-day Stiltsville understood in the contemporary context of climate change and rising sea levels.
Meanwhile, its luminous pink legs and platform, visible underneath a shallow depth of Miami’s azure blue sea, resurrects and completes the idea of the Surrounded Islands project. Not only does the layering of pink apply the “true color of Miami” to the one island that was previously too large to wrap, but it also completes the terminus of the axis of the original Christo design, which followed the chain of natural barrier islands. As Christo said, “the color also allows this project to be seen, approached and enjoyed from the land, the water, and the air.”
Made of translucent concrete, the structure also offers a counterpoint to Miami’s corporate condo-dominated glass skyline. In the early morning and later afternoon hours when the sun is low, the building appears translucent, like a jellyfish, only later to be perceived as a white concrete wing.
A land-based hangar building addresses the primary needs of the airport, including drop-off and pick-up, passenger screening, and storage. The Stilted Buoy serves as a main gate and observational tower. Like traditional terminals, it offers panoramic views of Miami’s green-blue waters and incoming seaplanes, but will also feature port commercial space, a restaurant and a ground control tower to provide additional security into Government Cut. The building will also serve as a water-taxi stop, so passengers arriving by plane can be delivered across the waters to the beach, the mainland, and beyond.