This project’s intent is to provide a basis for understanding the relationships mined quarries have with urban development. Within this past century the South Florida region has been a primal source for valuable limerock, which is utilized for many basic necessities required for urban infrastructure. This project carries the capabilities of reclaiming degraded segments of quarried land while simultaneously educating visitors on the necessities and processes of mining this valuable resource.The area known as the “Lake Belt Region” in South Florida appears as a series of immense pools clearly visible from satellite imagery. This region currently serves as a barrier to one of our world’s most diverse ecosystems, the Everglades, from an encroaching Urban Development Boundary line. With these quarries currently proclaiming themselves a safeguard from further development, the scars left behind from wounds inflicted by our very own demands are revealed. These inherent qualities of a scar are what I intend to expose and reassess with this design. Considering the significance of the site’s existing scars, it possesses no memoir of a healing process. The intensions for this project is to create fresh wounds by carving at the sites existing scars and to provide infrastructure for an environmental populace. These fresh wounds will possess the innate qualities necessary to support the basic demands and functions of a pre-existing environmental condition, which will further assist with the sites therapeutic process of forming new scars.
For over a century this region has been degraded from its natural ecological function. Urban sprawl along with the ever-present migrating populace solidified the mining industry’s significance while neglecting to adhere to the consequences a degraded portion of the everglades can have on natural systems. Today, the Lake Belt consists of numerous mining outfits that have devoid the natural landscape of its rich biodiversity by dramatically altering its physical condition. A landscape which otherwise demands water depths of 1’ to 3’ to allow native habitats to prosper, now encompasses a series of quarried lakes occupying an area that is approximately 56 square miles, with depths ranging up to 80’.
The sites geographical location is Lake #3 at CEMEX FEC Quarry and Miami Cement Plant. The goal at the east bank of Lake #3 is to convey the importance of research and restoration to the public by providing opportunities to learn about the native wildlife and vegetation of the area while conveying the unique qualities of the adjacent mining facility. The designed site includes a residence for a caretaker and two off-the-grid educational facilities. One of these off-the-grid facilities will be an accepted and built submission for the Solar Decathlon 2011 competition. Vantage points from two major roads (Florida Turnpike 821 and US 27) located adjacent to the site at its intersection and incoming traffic toward the facility were also important considerations in establishing clear visibility of this restoration effort.
The site’s design adheres to the goals and intensions of the client that not only desired a designed restoration effort, but also required that the site educated all forms of visitors of the relationship their mining operation has with their urban environments. This design accomplishes this by taking you on a mining journey unique in experience and celebrating their processes on the site. A portion of the site is mined further in order to create a similar experience of the adjacent mining operation that includes a filtering procedure which process the limerock according to quality and size. The difference lies in the scale of the sites operation where the intention is to filter people, not rock, while providing for the appropriate environmental condition.
The proper infrastructure needed to support the basic demands and functions of a pre-existing environmental condition is also required and is found within the filtering system. Bridging, up to 60’, will circumvent the visitor through and around the mined-cone-shaped limerock so the visitor can understand the scale of a mining operation while also being carried over the forming scars designed to mimic the Everglade Slough condition throughout the southern to center half of the site. As the infrastructure bleeds into the northern portion of the site the bridging tapers to ground level where the visitor is now surrounded by the naturally propagated and restored portion of the site. To assist with propagating the site, silhouetted cubes designed to mimic skyscrapers and urban domiciles will now provide places of refuge for a wildlife condition. These silhouettes traverse the center portion of the site acting as the stitching between the mined and the natural, while supporting the aforementioned bridging and then extending over and into the lakes depths. Although the lake has profound depths a littoral shelf protruding out from the sites edge will provide the required depth to foster natural vegetative growth and wildlife communities in those areas.
In conclusion this Park will cater to guests by providing a series of activities enabling the visitor to engage the site in an array of ways. Educational facilities can educate on the importance of restoration efforts, kayaks will provide water access and hiking paths transverse the entire site, which together, communicates a narrative of an ecological mining experience.
AWARD WINNER: 2012 FLASLA Award of Merit