Redesigning those ugly South Beach alleys

Miami Beach has many attractive spaces for visitors. Strolling around Ocean Drive, the Beachwalk, the Holocaust Memorial or Lincoln Road can provide a rich cultural experience.

But then there are those  barren alleyways that run parallel to the beach.

“There are so many parts of Miami Beach that are overlooked,” said Maryson Winklaar, an Florida International University architecture student.

Recently Winklaar was assigned a project to redesign one of the alleyways in Miami Beach.

“We notice how the alleyways aren’t a nice place to walk through because it’s a tight space where workers usually use to throw away the trash,” said Winklaar. “So it’s not a space that people take into account, and we wanted to turn these spaces into something beautiful and creative.”

FIU Architecture professor Eric Goldenberg recently coordinated an exhibition at the Miami Beach Urban Studios design gallery showcasing ideas from architecture students like Winklaar to repurpose and reinvent the service alleyways that run parallel to the beach from First to 14th Street between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue.

Goldenberg describes how, “students take different areas of the alleyway to produce art pavilions that can stand on top of the buildings or connect to the facades of the buildings, where the alleyways get activated.”

Winklaar and architecture student Anyela De Las Traviesas were assigned to create an art pavilion between the alleyway of Seventh St. and Eighth St. under Professor Felice Grodin’s guidance. Their model was inspired by the artwork of artist Kennedy Yanko, an American sculpture and painter that creates art installations with a dual expressionist-surrealist approach that centers on seen and unseen factors. The main focus in their alleyway is a promenade around the windows and stairs as well as an interactive open space that resembles a forest. “It’s somewhere you can get lost in,” she said.   

The exhibition showcased project models that portray a futuristic and modern approach to re-servicing these alleyways. De Las Traviesas explained students were motivated to think outside the box in designing their pavilion, and not restrict their ideas to realistic expectations of what could be created.

“I’m interested in environmental architecture, sustainability, and communal spaces such as the alleyway pavilion where I can change someone’s perception of a certain space,” De Las Traviesas shares.

The SoBe Lowline architecture exhibition at the MBUS Design Gallery located on 420 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, is free and open to the public until October 10 , 2022. Visitors can witness the unique student displays of the many ways to redesign the purpose of an unattended alleyway. 


Paloma Pimentel is a senior at FIU majoring in Digital Journalism and Communications, with a background in sociological studies. She is passionate about writing environmental and social issues stories, and is on her path to becoming an investigative journalist.  Having traveled to 20 countries already, she seeks to know more about the world and write stories about it.