Why Are So Many New Wynwood Buildings So Big & So Blah?
The Wynwood Design Review Committee unanimously approved designs for three buildings taller than 80 feet on Wednesday despite the committee’s own reservations that the buildings were stupendously blah and would be eyesores in such a colorful neighborhood. Some of their comments, as relayed by Real Deal, were quite juicy: “No one is going to want to take a selfie in front of that” committee member Zak Stern of Zak the Baker said of Wynwood 222, the project which got the most criticism. And “It’s just standing there, massive, big, and there nothing to look at,” said committee member Victor Sanchez. of the building’s gray design. Nevertheless they approved it with requirements that basically amounted to “add a little color.” The other two buildings were Wynwood 25 and Wynwood 26, also approved.
Wynwood 222 was designed by Raymond Fort, of Arquitectonica. He defended his project by saying his intent was to “tone it back” and present an “inverted version” of Wynwood. If you splash the building with bright graffiti colors you are going to end up with something that’s not desirable.” The thing is, being the son of Arquitectonica’s two principals and an heir apparent to the firm, if anybody has Miami architecture in his blood it’s him. If anybody ‘gets it’ it should be him. So, either Ray is totally off his rocker and the throne is going into dangerous hands or he is making a point with his big gray box that the rest of us just don’t realize. Consider another building he designed for the firm that really does push the envelope for architecture in Miami in an exciting direction, and is also gray: the Fairholme Capital Building on Biscayne Boulevard.
In the end though, these larger buildings are a new thing for Wynwood, to to a recent rezoning that made them possible. As Stern told Fort, it wasn’t anything personal against the project (although come on, this is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in the world and that shtick is gray), it’s just “you are our guinea pig.”