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Miami's Stairway to Heaven: Brightline


Intense traffic, gridlock on I-95 and delays from construction projects were ruining our beautiful town, but along came Brightline and now, everything is changing. The first privately owned, operated and maintained intercity passenger train, the Brightline, soon to become, Virgin (thank you Richard Branson), not only provides a much needed transit choice for Miami commuters, it's introduced beauty in transit design. Look out Europe (see my blog on Bordeaux's light rail).

Miami Central is the largest of the three train stations on the train line with the most dramatic design. Just look at this psychedelic stairway/escalator. The florescent colored lights that hug the top and bottom of the escalator railings are like nothing we've ever seen in Miami transit. And here begins the diagonal architectural design motif at Miami Central, which seems to be the unofficial brand of the private venture. You can see it inside, outside and even on the sidewalks leading into the building. It's not your mother's train station. Let's see what I mean.


Miami Central


The entrance is big with a bold design. What I like about this photo is the layering of diagonal lines. First it's on the sidewalk pavers. Gray and white stripes. Then it's mirrored on the underpass ceiling with the white diagonal lights. It continues on the building facade with the large, white, column like elements-- one seems to have a structural purpose, the other is decorative on either side of the Brightline sign. Something that could have been utilitarian and boring is transformed into something lovely and exciting which actually draws people in.

Miami Central

Sidewalk Pattern:

Here is a close up of the sidewalk pavers. From the moment you exit the parking garage, you are subtly guided to the station via this kind of yellow brick road. It's not as obvious as Dorothy's path, and the lack of signage makes it difficult for first timers to navigate, but it creates a cohesive design and sense of place.

Sense of place is what urban planners and architects use to describe cool places. When you feel as though you've arrived somewhere special and where all the buildings and spaces work to create one great thing, there's your sense of place. I think Miami Central has done a pretty good job at this. Let's see some more examples.

Miami Central