Students experiment with innovative architecture to address the social issues of Little Havana through design.

Good architecture and urban planning is capable of solving many of the social ills a society faces.  That is the guiding philosophy that compels many young men and women to first enter the study of architecture.  And over the summer, that was on display in Little Havana with a studio workshop conducted by Florida International University architecture students, led by Professor Jordan Trachtenberg, who is also principal at his design and development firm, Trachtenberg LLC. Prof. Trachtenberg conducts a design studio titled “Decoding Development” which focuses on design through testing the limits of the underlying transect code for the area of investigation the students are assigned.  

Carlos Fausto Miranda of Fausto Commercial was invited to participate in the Decoding Development studio.  As the basis of the studio, Mr Miranda and Mr Trachtenberg elaborated a project of consequence, something to address a very real need in the community.

“Miami is severely lacking in something.  We’re building an endless supply of luxury condos in the sky for the wealthy, but the middle and lower income segments of our population are entirely neglected.  In many of our urban core neighborhoods, vacant small lots are abundant but due to the difficulties of developing, they remain unbuilt and serve only to perpetuate urban blight and community stagnation.  We need to develop an economically feasible model to solve this”, said Mr Miranda.

The project was designed to experiment with ideas for a prototypical building that can provide high quality housing for middle and lower income neighborhoods, can be easily replicated in small urban infill lots, and that contributes towards the evolution of great walkable urban neighborhoods.

Several small lots were chosen in the East Little Havana neighborhood, a heritage neighborhood that houses a vibrant and diverse lower income immigrant community just outside the glittering towers of downtown Miami.  The area is subject to a potential up-zoning, and as such the project also set out to craft and educate local residents as to what are the types of buildings the proposed up-zoning may encourage.  “It was stimulating working with the students.  They were a bright group, full of interesting ideas.  It was an honor to work with Prof. Trachtenberg and his FIU students.  The end result is a series of designs which we can tinker with in our quest to develop the urban prototype.  But more importantly, it is a huge step in building awareness for what we want to do in the area.”

Samples of the work attached.

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