The Collins Canal Park renovation has brought to life one of Miami Beach’s most underutilized public sites by connecting the city’s rich cultural history with environmental resilience. Collins Park is a linear park sandwiched between the Miami Beach Convention Center and the historic Collins Canal. This passive park connects the residential neighborhoods surrounding the City Center to the city’s arts and cultural institutions including Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Bass Art Museum, Miami Beach Ballet, the New World Symphony campus, Holocaust Memorial, Fillmore Theater, and Lincoln Road.
This project marries one of the most important cultural landmarks, the Carl Fisher Clubhouse, the city's oldest public structure, with the mangrove-lined Collins Canal. While the Clubhouse honors the past, new art installations in the park and along the façade of the adjacent Convention Center exhibit Miami Beach’s current and future status as an art hub. The park was designed to consider future sea-level rise by pulling the concrete seawall back from the shoreline to establish a living seawall of mangrove habitat. The newly established littoral shelf and retaining wall also function as a modern seating element that protects the historic Clubhouse and creating a 100-year park that is resilient against the threat of tidal flooding.
The project design reduced the park’s impervious area by 50% and included planting native vegetation and tree canopy. This provides an inviting, lush park scape that honors the site’s layers of cultural history and reconnects to the community with the adjacent Convention Center. These improvements not only revitalized the waterfront, but they also enhanced the surrounding riparian and intertidal environment through the creation of new habitats for aquatic and terrestrial species and improving water quality via filtration of upland run-off. The Collins Canal Park enhances the natural environment and dramatically transforms the day-to-day experience of the city’s residents and visitors.
by Elizabeth Wheaton & Maria Hernandez
Elizabeth Wheaton has been working with the City of Miami Beach since 2008 and over the last twelve years has served in the Public Works Department, Building Department, and the Office of the Mayor and Commission. In 2016, the Environment & Sustainability Department was created and Elizabeth was appointed as the Director. The City’s Environment & Sustainability Department focuses on climate change mitigation and adaptation through the lens of sustainability, environmental resources management and urban forestry. Elizabeth graduated from University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science with a Masters in Marine Affairs and Policy. Elizabeth is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Maria Hernandez is a LEED-credited architect, program director and government leader. She is the Project Director for the Convention Center District, a 52 acre area surrounding the City of Miami Beach’s civic center. In this role, she has led the successful execution of the $620 million project, the largest capital project in the city’s history. Maria also serves as the Program Director of the Miami Beach G.O. Bond Program, a $439 million taxpayer-funded quality-of-life improvement initiative. Before joining the city in 2010, Maria had a 20-year career in the private sector where she was involved in the development and execution of over 50 commercial real estate projects. Maria holds a MA in Building Design from Columbia University and a BA in Architecture from the University of Miami.
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