The City of Miami Beach, in partnership with the New World Symphony, commissioned Gehry Partners LLP, a Los Angeles-based architecture firm established by renowned architect Frank Gehry, to design and build the Pennsylvania Avenue Parking Garage. The project is part of a campus that includes a new home for the New World Symphony America’s Orchestral Academy with a 700-seat concert hall also designed by Gehry’s office. The City of Miami Beach is building a new city park in front of the New World Symphony building to complete the campus. The parking structure prominently features GKD-USA’s Helix 12 woven metal mesh panels as the primary exterior facade element. The mesh faade is lit in the evening by LED lights for a dramatic visual effect.
The Pennsylvania Avenue parking garage has six levels, including rooftop, and provides spaces for approximately 557 cars. As a public parking garage located in the heart of Miami Beach, it serves the needs of the city and provides convenient parking for the New World Symphony. Following city regulation, the ground floor is designated for retail space.
Gehry’s design called for a mesh product that was durable, aesthetically compatible with the neighboring symphony building and easily maintained. The final faade design includes 49 GKD Helix 12 panels for a total square footage of 25,870. The panels wrap the exterior of the precast parking structure on three sides except for the glass storefronts on the first floor. The Helix 12 mesh was selected for its three dimensional weave that when coupled with LED lighting, creates a sense of dynamic movement. The T 316 stainless steel mesh is compatible with the high salt exposure typical in a marine environment, and the mesh with the attachment system is designed to withstand hurricane force winds up to 146 miles per hour. The elasticity of the Helix fabric allowed for savings in the attachment hardware.
The design of the garage is a simple exposed precast structure with few aesthetic features added except for the GKD mesh and LED lighting. The exterior Helix 12 fabric is lit with LED lights installed at the base of the mesh above the ground floor retail on three sides. The controllable LED lighting is programmed to change colors continuously throughout the evening and can be modified to correspond with holidays or special events happening at the New World Symphony.
In addition to providing an aesthetic veil, using metal fabric helps maintain the open area of the parking garage. Mechanical ventilation equipment is not required, which leads to both capital and operational cost savings. Metal fabric provides security and safety for parking garage structures, withstands heavy winds and intense weather, and offers easy maintenance by withstanding daily wear and tear.
At the request of the design team, GKD’s engineers also added a feature that included a small section of product pinned back to the top of the spandrel wall to form a closed area. This detail prevents debris from collecting between the building structure and the mesh and allows it to be easily collected by maintenance crews.
One particular design challenge was allowing for fire standpipes to penetrate the mesh at the ground floor while maintain the structural continuity of the fabric. GKD used a stainless steel trim plate welded to the fabric for a simple clean solution.