The Sky Garden is a secret residential garden on the roof of a new car park and renovated office building in Miami Beach, Florida. In place of concrete and equipment, the Clients desired a lush, wild garden to complement their personal residence and award-winning car park designed by world famous architects. The site is a harsh environment with high winds, intense sun and limited planting areas, yet it abounds with birds and pollinators.
The Sky Garden is a model for traditionally underutilized rooftop space. The Architect and Landscape Architect created a balance of aesthetic vision and practical residential needs for this unprecedented home built on the roof of a structure that is part parking garage, part retail, part event space and part penthouse.
The Sky Garden is a crowning touch to an award-winning car park at the western terminus of Lincoln Road. The structure is recognized around the world for its bold architecture, and is one of the most visible and recognized buildings in the City of Miami Beach. The Architect hung the house underneath the top slab, cut into the volume. With the garage height of seventy-five feet, the penthouse’s siting is optimized. The residence, although exceptionally designed, is meant to be unpretentious, deferring to the landscape for a true sense of identity.
The west side is the Sky Garden is called the Slope Garden, which acts as the “front yard” of the residence. The high point of the Slope Garden provides an ideal vantage point for views across Biscayne Bay towards the Downtown Miami skyline.
The Slope Garden’s winding Zoysia grass path creates a variety of experiential moments within the landscape. The grass is left unmowed, to allow for its natural mounding characteristics. Vines, including Railroad Vine, Virginia Creeper, and Grape extend up the private elevator tower into the sky, and hang down onto the 7th floor multi-use space below, giving parking patrons clues to the Sky Garden’s existence. The Landscape Architect specified a custom Hydrotech system designed for the highly-sloped condition to reduce water run-off and to extend the life of the roof membrane.
The east side of the Sky Garden encompasses the Entertainment Garden with a bar, outdoor dining table designed by the Architect, and pool designed by the Landscape Architect. The open hardscape areas are ideal for large gatherings. The Sky Garden continues the materiality of the ground level 1111 Lincoln Road public plaza, also designed by the Landscape Architect. White pedra portuguesa stones were hand-laid and mortared, while white river rock lines the organic-shaped planting beds. The car park’s cast-in-place concrete slabs function as floor plates, columns and ramps. The use of concrete and overhands is a nod to the local vernacular.
Specimen red trunk Acacia trees from Africa provide scale and sculptural qualities while framing views towards the Atlantic Ocean beyond. The diverse palette of native plants in addition to non-invasive specimen plant material adopts well to the site and shallow soil depths that average six inches. The Slope Garden’s planting palette consists of Giant Silver Bromeliad, Gulf Cordgrass, Agave ‘Gainesville Blue’, Gaillardia, Imperial Bromeliad, Mexican Breadfruit and Seaside Goldenrod. The garden is a primarily native, resilient and low-maintenance landscape.
The Entertainment Garden above the renovated SunTrust Building, originally built in 1968, is an example of adaptive reuse, preservation and innovation. What was storage for the building’s equipment is now a spectacular pool framed by leaning Sabal palms and a verdant vine trellis, and an outdoor dining area.
Overall, the Sky Garden’s cohesive landscape and hardscape design marries the two structures, the open-air car park and the 1968 SunTrust building, at the roof level.