In Fort Lauderdale, Lofts by BIG

General / People / Places / January 28, 2013

It’s a project that fills a gap while it creates a canyon.

Along the last developable stretch of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s River Walk, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has designed three mixed-use structures that open up a vertical space between two towers and allow easy access to public waterfront.

Marina Lofts seeks to activate a run-down piece of land along the New River with a pedestrian-friendly public space, and attract new residents.  It totals 1,000 rental apartments, 10,000 sq ft of restaurants and 25,000 sq ft of retail, and it will be broken up into three phases.

“It’s a split volume with a ‘crack’ in between,” says Thomas Christoffersen, principal in BIG’s New York office.  “And it’s almost a sort of a volume made out of individual bricks that identify each unit.”

Recalling James Wines’ and SITE’s pioneering work of the 1970s and ‘80s, the “crack” in the building creates two towers, with a “brick” at the top bridging them.

“It’s an urban canyon with balconies that are accessible from the apartments in the ‘crack,’” he says.  “There’s an opening for the marina below, and a void created in the volume for penthouse terraces.”

A third, smaller structure with garden atop will offer restaurants and dining facilities for the public on the ground level.

The city wants to inject public interaction into the riverfront across bridges linking its north and south banks, while creating moderately-priced residences.

“The intent was not to do affordable housing, but not to create a high-end project with straight-up construction,” he says.

Christoffersen and developer Asi Cymbal are negotiating now with the city for groundbreaking on one of the two larger buildings as the first phase, with an anticipated approval within the next few months.

For more information on Marina Lofts, go to http://www.marinaloftsfortlauderdale.com/

For more information on BIG, go to http://www.big.dk/#projects

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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