Palm Court, Miami Design District

Miami, United States



Executive Architect
SB Architects

Design Architect
Sou Fujimoto Architects

Design Architect

Design Landscape Architects
Island Planning Corporation

Electrical Engineers

Coastal Construction

Robin Hill


Award of Merit, IES Awards, 2016
Arts and Education

Architecture + Environment

The Miami Design District is a neighbourhood designed to bring together architecture, design, art, fashion, and dining experiences in a cross-cultivating community environment. The lighting for Palm Court is the completed first phase of a Masterplan that sets out the night-time identity for the entire district. The plan aims to create an innovative design-led backdrop, while ensuring the individual brand inhabitants can stand out on their own.

Palm Court forms the southernmost edge of the district and is characterised by a central plaza around which retail developments have been arranged. In keeping with the Masterplan, the lighting approach offers a cohesive backbone of integrated landscape lighting and required functional light, layered with individually designed highlights to the selected architectural interventions within the court.

Marking the entry from the underground carpark, Buckminster Fuller’s ‘Fly’s Eye Dome’ makes a striking focal point. Internally uplit, it is set within a pool of water that has been kept purposefully dark to enable reflection. Low-level lighting forms a halo around the piece, enhancing the structure’s ‘other-worldly’ quality.

A vast retail expanse by Sou Fujimoto forms the backdrop to the court upon entry. Covered in an arrangement of blades of blue glass, it forms a spectacular waterfall of colour. In their initial form, the transparency and density of these fins made them difficult to light. To create the desired effect, a percentage of the glass fins were fritted so that they would transmit light across their surface. Narrowly directed light diffuses across the frit layered blades, allowing the facade to glow and shimmer along its length.

The event space, by Aranda\Lasch, is located on the second floor. It is defined by a large cantilevered roof, which has been uplit to emphasise both its inlaid decorative relief and its structural impact. The interior has an open plan base build construction to allow for event flexibility.

With soft uplighting from a pattern of recessed luminaires set out compositionally in the landscape, the palm trees aptly play a key role in binding the composition together. To accentuate the leaves and create a positive canopy by night, small LED projectors saturate the leaves with a green light. Rounding out the design, high-level parapet mounted luminaires provide supplementary light along the open pedestrian routes, and integrated lighting to escalators and handrails is provided where possible.

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