December 10, 2014
By Nila Do Simon | Portrait by Nick Garcia
For some, it would have just been another parking lot but real estate developer Tony Cho thought otherwise. After acquiring the Wynwood Gateway Complex, Cho didn’t want the accompanying 14,000- square foot lot to become just another concrete strip.
Instead, the founder and CEO of the sustainably conscious development firm Metro 1 wanted to transform it into an urban park and community garden. To do so, Cho’s Metro 1 coordinated a competition inviting designers to submit proposals for the empty space. Held in partnership with DawnTown, a nonprofit dedicated t o promoting local architecture, and AIA Miami, the local chapter of The American Institute of Architects, the challenge stipulated that the winning team would implement its design when the park breaks ground in spring 2015 and earn the $17,500 prize money. “What makes this so exciting is that it wasn’t a design competition,” says Cho. “It was an ideas competition.”
Nearly 240 portfolio entries from 23 countries were received. Chosen by judges from esteemed design backgrounds, the winners ended up being locals. Artist Jim Droin, landscape architect Roberto Roviro and architect Nick Gelpi won the panel over with their Wynwood Greenhouse concept, which incorporates on open-air greenhouse with seating throughout.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” adds Cho. “And I can’t wait for Miami to see it too.”
To kick off the fundraising campaign that will finance the park (estimated at more than $1 million) Metro 1 is organizing two events at the site this Art Week: The Pallet Garden (Dec. 4.7), is a party with live entertainment and tastings that will showcase the winning designs, and AmeriCANS (Dec. 1-11), an exhibition that will include two murals and a mixed-media art show by Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau. 2825 NW Second Ave., Miami, wynwoodgreenhouse.org.