Great Cities Happen WHEN PEOPLE AND PLACES CONNECT

The way people experience their city -- everything from how they move around, to where they choose to spend their time, to what opportunities they have access to -- creates the basis for both the city's and the individual's success. Our goal is always to build a better city through experiential projects that foster stronger and more meaningful community involvement so innovative solutions to complex urban problems can emerge.

Public Transit Day

Public Transit is a community day of action where locals and leaders are encouraged to ride public transit as a community and post insights about their experience. The ultimate goal with Public Transit Day is for locals and leaders to prioritize improvements to our local transit system.

Urban Impact Lab joined Radical Partners in producing the inaugural Public Transit Day on December 9, 2016. 

The UI Lab team worked closely with the Radical Partners team to strategize and plan, secure funding, develop partnerships, promote and implement Public Transit Day. A key feature of this initiative was the 'Take the Pledge' campaign, which urged elected officials and residents commit to riding transit on Dec 9th. Over 40 electeds and hundreds of locals have taken the pledge in the days and weeks leading up to Public Transit Day, showing a growing desire to engage with our transit system and strong for improvements. 

The idea for Public Transit Day was generated by Dan Horton as part of the 100 Great Ideas campaign on Transit, held in Spring 2016 which was co-hosted by UI Lab's Founding Partner, Marta Viciedo. 100 Great Ideas is a community engagement platform produced by Radical Partners.

illuMia

illuMia is an urban illumination project that transforms the city (its streets, buildings, public spaces) into the community's canvas and invites everyone to explore and interact with the places that usually serve as a backdrop to everyday life.

The creative work showcased at each illumination event features community-created art from five of Miami's core neighborhoods: Overtown, Wynwood, Liberty City, Little Haiti and Little Havana. In addition, a portion of each illumination event will be powered by solar energy, showcasing how this technology can be used to solve some of our community's challenges. 

This creative placemaking project began in early 2017 with generous support from ArtPlace Americas.

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The first illumination experience, unveiling the first series of community art, is occuring during Arsht Center's ArtsLaunch: September 9, 2017, 7pm-9pm at Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132). 

Creative Placemaking is...
an evolving field of practice that intentionally leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest while driving a broader agenda for change, growth and transformation (including policy) in a way that also builds character and quality of place. (-Toronto Artscape)

illuMia is inspired by amazing global events and installations. Each of illuMia's installations and workshops will use light as an art medium and seeks to explore our community's relationship with energy. 

illuMia strives to put the power of solar into the hands of everyday people and inspires them to see the city as a canvas for community expression. The work is intended to drive greater community involvement, inclusion, advocacy and resilience.

PARTNERS

We are excited (and lucky) to work with a growing list of partners as we bring this to life:

ArtPlace

2urn

Arsht Center

ConnectFamilias

FANM

Community Justice Project

New Florida Majority

Ludovic Roche (PWRstation)

Valery Augustin

Special Thanks

illuMia is generously supported by ArtPlace America

 

We are grateful to our Board of Advisors (aka illuMia's Brain Trust):

Susana Siman (Brain Trust Leader), I'Tita Alexander, James Brazil, Dimitry Chamy, Ric Herrero, Rebecca Mandelman, Jorge Perez Gallego, Rafael Saldaña, Marte Siebenhar

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photo creds: Laurent Saint-Louis

photo creds: Laurent Saint-Louis

Active Design Miami

Active Design Miami is a set of evidence-based design and policy strategies for creating healthier streets, urban spaces, and buildings.

The original Active Design Guidelines were create in New York in 2006 through a broad collaboration that included the NY Dept of Health, AIA NY Chapter and numerous agencies and organizations. In 2015, Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD) was funded through the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to bring Active Design to Miami.

Urban Impact Lab has worked in various capacities on this project. Founding Partner, Marta Viciedo, has served as the Project Manager, guiding all aspects of the development and creation of the Active Design Miami publication, developing strategic partnerships, engaging stakeholders, managing the Active Design team, and ensuring the project is successfully completed.  The UI Lab team has provided project support and facilitated involvement in demonstration-style projects such as PARK(ing) Day Miami.

For 2016-2017, the focus is on having Miami-Dade County and at least 10 municipalities adopt Active Design Miami into their planning, land use and/or building guidelines

View and download the Active Design Miami publication here.

Follow the project at activedesignmiami.org

Challenging Better Public Space

Urban Impact Lab has worked with The Miami Foundation since 2014 to make their Public Space Challenge program a great success. Our team supports the program in various capacities including: consultation on program strategy, design and implementation of creative workshops for participants, outreach support, technical assistance and project implementation support for challenge finalists and winners, and development of public space winner's network. 

As part of the communications team, we also developed and implemented an effective outreach and communication campaign while securing strategic community partners.  

 

About the program

The Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge is an open ideas challenge that seeks to improve, activate or create new public spaces in Miami Dade County. The Challenge runs annually and invites all community members and/or organizations to contribute ideas for great public spaces in their community. 

 


Resilience Builds Community 

Resilient Miami was born out of the HighWaterLine | Miami (HWL) project and became an initiative that Urban Impact Lab developed.  Together with HWL's founders, Eve Mosher and Heidi Quante and local community members, we began by exploring pathways to making Miami more resilient through tools such as emergency preparedness, green jobs growth, and community-generated solutions. 

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In late 2014, Urban Impact Lab partnered with Catalyst Miami on a Kresge Foundation Environment Program Planning Grant proposal that would help continue the preliminary work done through Resilient Miami and build meaningful engagement opportunities within Miami's most vulnerable communities.  

In 2014, Urban Impact Lab helped secure a $100,000 planning grant, in partnership with Catalyst Miami. This planning process represented Resilient Miami's next step and evolution. Starting in January 2014, Urban Impact Lab worked hand in hand with Catalyst Miami and Florida Institute for Health Innovation to create an resilience plan that prioritized the needs of Miami-Dade's most vulnerable communities. Kresge's plan was to offer 3 years of implementation funding to the organizations with the strongest plan. 

In early 2016, our partnership received confirmation that our Resilient Miami plan would receive implementation support from the Kresge Foundation. Their generosity means that Resilient Miami will receive $220,000 each year for three years. Visit the Resilient Miami website for the latest on this project. 


designing a friendly Calle Ocho, for one day

In December 2014, Calle Ocho (SW 8th St) in Little Havana was temporarily transformed from a hazardous 3-lane major thoroughfare into a pedestrian and bike friendly public space. Contracted under ConnectFamilia's Live Healthy program, Urban Impact Lab used temporary materials and signage to demonstrate what a better street design might look like.  

The event coincided with Miami's first official Cyclovia sponsored by FDOT.  

The redesign featured:  

  • a road diet, where 8 Street temporarily went from 3 one-way lanes to 2 lanes;
  • a wide, protected bike lane with buffer space to protect cyclists from dooring;
  • a mid-block crosswalk to facilitate pedestrian mobility, particularly for the neighborhood's young and elderly population;
  • large, visible speed limit markings on the roadway to control speed;
  • addition of parklets for broadened public/pedestrian space.

In addition, we designed and created highly visible, illustrated, bilingual signs to explain each redesign element, including terminology, use, and benefit. 

As a result, participants and community members experienced first hand examples of what a walkable, and bikeable street design might look like.  This interaction provided critical engagement and feedback for ConnectFamilias' Live Health initiative.  

Part of the Live Healthy program seeks to ensure Complete Streets policies move forward at the City of Miami.  These policies have seen much success throughout the county as they improve safety and encourage greater use of public streets and sidewalks thereby promoting health by getting residents to walk and/or bike more.

PARK(ing) It Up!

2016

We said it in 2015, but 2016 was really the biggest and best PARK(ing) Day Miami yet. In partnership with Miami-Dade County Parks Foundation, Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, and the Miami Center for Architecture & Design, we organized Miami's 1st ever PARK(ing) Day Design + Build Competition.  

Find all the details at parkingdaymiami.com and follow PARK(ing) Day Miami on Facebook and Twitter for next year's installment. 

 

2015

PARK(ing) Day Miami 2015 was the biggest and best yet for the city! Check out the recap below. 

Urban Impact Lab has been on a bit of a mission:  to make Park(ing) Day a known and accessible project in Miami.  After two successful PARK(ing) Days (2013 & 2014), Urban Impact Lab has been working with the City of Miami to create an open and accessible process so others can participate easily.  

In 2015, on PARK(ing) Day's 10th anniversary, we will be working directly with public agencies and interested participants to coordinate and facilitate PARK(ing) Day installations.  We've created a resource document, PARK(ing) Day Miami Guidelines, to help anyone interested in setting up their own PARK in Miami.  PARK(ing) Day always occurs on the third Friday in September. 


2014

 

2013

Since 2013, we've temporarily created almost 20 new PARK(ing) spots in Downtown Miami on the third Friday in September.  This demonstration project served to create a positive disruption with regards to how people perceive public space in our city’s urban core.

Giant Jenga at Park(ing) Day 2013

Giant Jenga at Park(ing) Day 2013

Media Coverage:  The Miami Herald covers Park(ing) Day 2013

Media Coverage:  The Miami Herald covers Park(ing) Day 2013

Visitors to our PARK(ing) spots enjoy pleasant spaces that feature shade, yoga, bubbles or games (yes, that’s jumbo jenga in the picture).  Passersby connect with new people, while realizing that our most underestimated public spaces — in this case, a metered parking spot — can be easily transformed into valuable, enjoyable, lively space for people.

A Park(ing) Space in the Making

A Park(ing) Space in the Making

PARK(ing) Day Miami has been supported and sponsored by Miami Dade Department of Parks, Recreation and Open SpacesMiami Downtown Development AuthorityMiami Parking Authority and Elwoods Gastropub.

Like PARK(ing) Day Miami's Facebook Page & follow on Twitter to stay informed!

Park(ing) Day 2013 at Elwoods Gastropub

Park(ing) Day 2013 at Elwoods Gastropub

Park(ing) Day 2013 at Wolfson Campus

Park(ing) Day 2013 at Wolfson Campus


Elevating The Conversation Around Transit

CITT's 2015 Transportation Summit was a key opportunity to advance the conversation around public transportation in Miami Dade County.  Urban Impact Lab worked with the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust to successfully promote, develop, and manage all community engagement for the Transportation Summit.

Urban Impact Lab designed, organized, and managed several innovative pathways for community engagement including:

  • designing and implementing a communications strategy focused on social media outreach and promotion leading up to the Summit;
  • design and management of interactive engagement stations with feedback walls at the Summit;
  • management and curation of a live Twitter wall visualization;
  • management and engagement of various social media platforms throughout the event.

Making Miami Shadier

The Miami Foundation, in partnership with Project for Public Spaces and IOBY, launched the Our Miami Public Space Challenge in August 2013.  Urban Impact Lab submitted two project ideas to the challenge. One of our ideas, Shades of Miami, was selected as the winner for the Public Space Challenge.  We are excited to be part of a broad effort to bring attention and creative solutions to Miami's public spaces.

Shades of Miami will use over 700 brightly colored umbrellas and suspend them over a public, pedestrian-friendly space.  The idea itself is simple, but it calls attention to a big issue in Miami:  the need for shade. The installation is temporary in nature and is intended to be moved around the city.  

The original idea came from Agueda, Portugal where Sextafeira Produções suspend umbrellas over a market area.  The installation has been done several years in a row and provides passersby respite from the sun and weather.  

2013 Public Space Challenge Winners

2013 Public Space Challenge Winners

If you'd like to see the umbrella canopy in a public space near your community, contact us at impact@urbanimpactlab.com.

Media Coverage:

The Miami Herald: Fifteen ideas win cash prizes in contest to boost Miami’s public spaces


Building The Relationship Between People + Place, One Issue At A Time

Transportation issues are a critical priority for Miami-Dade, and The Miami Foundation is leading the way in engaging residents.  Using informative resources and creative projects, the Foundation seeks to empower the community with insight and strategies for engaging with local transportation/mobility issues.

Urban Impact Lab worked with The Miami Foundation to develop and communicate their vision around Miami's urban mobility.  We developed the Urban Mobility Miami website as central resource for transportation-related information, which includes this white board video below, describing Miami-Dade's transportation ecosystem.   

 
 

Feeding Our Urban Curiosity

We're [mostly] all familiar with TED and TEDx, but this special take on TED-talks feature a day-long series of city-related talks of all persuasions including transportation, public space, innovation and technology, community involvement, art and advocacy.  

As a tool to build thought leadership around our local urban issues, Urban Impact Lab organized a viewing party for TEDxCity2.0.   We simulcasted several of the day's talks and invited local leaders, Rebekah Monson (Code for Miami) and Adam Schachner (Emerge Miami) to discuss the impactful work they are doing in the community. 


A Line Worth Crossing

HighWaterLine is an innovative art project that transforms scientific data into a clear and compelling visual statement about the effects of climate change, particularly sea level rise.  Urban Impact Lab co-led the project in Miami, coordinating and facilitating the effort with founding artist Eve Mosher and organizer Heidi Quante.  

Essentially, the HighWaterLine used a chalking machine to demarcate the predicted 3' and 6' sea level rise lines in Miami Beach and Miami.  The effort included over 50 community members who took part in this participatory art project to draw the line, engaging with curious passersby as they chalked a line along Downtown Miami, Brickell, Little Havana and Miami Beach's most popular areas.  

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Talking Transit

Miami Foundation driven initiative, Transit Talk sought to provide background information and context for the 2013 CITT Miami-Dade Transportation Summit.  Urban Impact Lab coordinated a panel of real estate professionals, transit administrators and city representatives.  In addition, we created a series of infographic cards showing the economic, environmental, and health impacts.   

The panel, moderated by Marta Viciedo, provided insight into Miami's transit ecosystem and the upcoming summit, while giving residents who could not attend the summit an alternative setting for engagement. 


Popping Up Transit

The Purple Line project had one goal:  to raise awareness around the need for better transit options in Miami.  As it turned out, thousands of Miamians were not only aware, but they were engaged, involved and ready to be part of a stronger transit advocacy community.  

As part of the outreach, we created flyers that announced a new rail line in Miami.  Many believed it was an actual, new line that was opening.  

As part of the outreach, we created flyers that announced a new rail line in Miami.  Many believed it was an actual, new line that was opening.  

Purple Line was an idea that came out of another urban demonstration project: Better Block Fort Lauderdale.  In June 2012, a group of local business owners, residents, artists and students came together to temporarily remake one block in downtown Fort Lauderdale's FAT Village Arts District.  The project was spearheaded by Cadence, a local planning and design firm in collaboration with FAU's School of Urban Planning.  

Better Block Beginnings

After our participation in Better Block Fort Lauderdale, we, with a number of other community members and students (from FAU's School of Urban Planning), felt compelled to do a similar project in Miami.  While searching for the best Better Block 'block', we realized that we were continually drawn to sites along the FEC railroad line, the very railroad that played a central role in founding Miami.  In August of 2012, our group convened community members, professors, business owners and artists at The Hangar Gallery to discuss the idea of a transit oriented Better Block-type project.

After presenting the idea, we asked the group to help us name the project, and thus, the Purple Line was born (yes, even the name was crowdsourced). Those of us leading the project always referred to it as a community-built train station and it was exactly that.  We held open meetings every Saturday at the now-defunct Lester's in Wynwood and brainstormed ideas, partners, installations and activities for the Purple Line with anyone who showed up.  

Community Built

Transit "Lounge"

Transit "Lounge"

Together with groups like Emerge MiamiCatalyst Miami and Miami Arts Charter (to only name a very few), Purple Line organizers coordinated the design, programming, set up and breakdown of the pop-up transit station.  We selected a location that was adjacent to the FEC rail, but also close to higher density, walkable areas such as Midtown Miami and the Design District. We used an existing underpass parking lot space that afforded us some basic infrastructure and shade.  

The Purple Line "opened" on March 8th & 9th, 2013 with over 25 collaborating businesses and organizations, numerous volunteers and lots of elbow grease.  We recorded several thousand visitors.  Emerge Miami hosted a bike valet and a DIY crosswalk, Brisky Gallery used one of the Purple Line shipping containers for a pop up gallery space, local musicians provided beats, area restaurants such as Crumb on Parchment sold delicious treats and local vendors set up shop.  

DIY Crosswalk

DIY Crosswalk

Changing TRANSIT Paradigms

The Purple Line project reached tens of thousands of individuals through social and conventional media.  The project gave rise to more transit-related demonstration projects led by other local groups, but more importantly, it changed the way that many of us perceived our role with the city.  Community-led urban demonstration projects such as this are ultimately an adapted form of civic engagement, reminding community members that they play a critical role in the shaping and evolution of their city.  TrAC, a local, nonpartisan political action committee supporting improved transit options, was in part a result of the Purple Line.  

The Purple Line was developed and implemented before the official inception of Urban Impact Lab, but it was an invaluable learning experience and created the basis of our approach of inclusive urbanism.  The Purple Line was made possible through the funding support of The Miami Foundation, FAU's School of Urban and Regional Planning, Kickstarter (which is short for lots of local donors) and Car2Go.  

 

Media Coverage 

We admit it, Purple Line just loved the limelight.  Check out some of the great coverage!

The Atlantic Cities/City Lab 

Huffington Post

WLRN (One and Two)

The Miami Herald (One, Two, Three and Four

WVUM

The Biscayne Times (One and Two)


Play Through Disruption

It all started in late 2012 when we were brought in to work with local business owners and residents to facilitate and organize Flagler Nights, a monthly community driven festival just off of Flagler Street near the Miami River.  The festival was a neighborhood celebration of the community's local flavor and culture, but it also gave rise to an unplanned-for event:  the transformation of an underpass at the end of the block into a pop up park.

 

The story behind the making of the underpass park also presents a powerful and important lesson.  While making preparations for Flagler Nights, our young daughter, Olivia, took a walk with dad.  While exploring the surrounding area, Olivia saw something in the underpass' sloped foundation; to her eyes, it was a slide.  Tellingly, there were no other playgrounds in the area.  

By the next weekend, we had a plan.  Irvans, assisted by several friends, used a folded vinyl black tarp plus some tape to mark off the slide area.  Immediately other children that were out for a walk with their parents joined Olivia in testing out the new slide.  Kids were given long cardboard rectangles that became sleds for more sliding fun.   The group added a rope, tightly secured at the top, that kids and grownups used for climbing.  A tire swing was strung up near the base of the underpass while a small used sail was secured between two palm trees and served as a projection screen for fun films (we choose mostly vintage black and whites like the Little Rascals that didn't need much sound).   

Parents living in the nearby Neo Loft towers asked when the park would be made permanent.  Kids, delighted by the surprise play-space, intrepidly climbed, slid and swung.  People of all ages lingered, having conversations and encounters that would have been unlikely otherwise.  

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The park popped up three months in a row in the same underpass space.  Each instance proved to be a positive disruption in the neighborhood.  Passersby and residents saw the space for much more than a mural-bearing, sloped concrete base.  Kids were allowed to play in a new way, with new playmates.  Parents made new connections and spent more time outside than usual.