Miami Design District versus Beverly Hills

February 28, 2017

Melissa Hege, AICP of South Florida-based Melissa Hege City Planning LLC. shares her thoughts on the Miami Design District verses Beverly Hills.

Miami Design District
Let's take a look at the sidewalks. This Design District sidewalk oozes class as long as you don't look too closely at the brickwork. Miami is not known for it's great artisans and the pavers don't perfectly align, but the overall effect is tres chic.

Beverly Hills

I imagine that if Beverly Hills could upgrade their sidewalks and streets in the future, they could easily rival the Design District. But for now, I like how they dress up a fairly plain concrete sidewalk with modern planters and a railing to carve out the restaurant's domain.

Miami Design District

Developers of the Design District transform the mundane everyday necessities of a commercial neighborhood into things of beauty. Let's start with this fun and simple take on directional signage for the men's room. They've transformed it into a sculptural piece of art!

Miami Design District
And on a larger scale, is a stunning parking structure which looks more like a sculpture than a utilitarian building. It almost appears to be dancing especially as the light moves across the metal screen. Boy did they get this one right!

Miami Design District

But my favorite, and the best example of why I think the Miami Design District is an improved vision of Beverly Hills is this. Remember the iconic geodome in the public plaza? Here we can see it's real purpose- as a formal entrance to the underground parking deck. How often do you see tourists photographing a parking entrance? Pure genius! Thanks to Beverly Hills for the inspiration, this time Miami really did get it right! Evidence that developer driven projects, like this one, truly can have a transformative impact on an entire neighborhood. Google Dacra for more information.

Article originally posted by Melissa Hege, AICP at

Melissa Hege, AICP, LEED AP, practices planning and urban design in one of the Country’s most envied and envious iconic cities—the Republic of Miami. For more than a decade, she has enjoyed the juxtaposition of the region’s beauty and dysfunction, and continues to learn from it daily. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Brandeis University, her portfolio includes award winning plans which translate design based solutions into practical applications.

In her current practice, Melissa Hege City Planning, she straddles the roles of planner and community advocate by exploring infrastructure investments which add exponential value to cities. These include waterfront parks, bicycle and pedestrian trails, and complete streets—streets which have comfortable and protected zones for bicycles, pedestrians, cars, and transit. She is currently developing a waterfront pop-up installation on Miami’s Biscayne Bay to demonstrate the potential value of a permanently improved and connected waterfront trail in downtown Miami. Other recent projects include an interactive web based tool to visually track all multi-agency infrastructure improvements in downtown Miami and a Complete Streets forum for local municipalities in partnership with Miami Dade County.

Melissa is a board member of the Miami Modern (MIMO) Biscayne Boulevard Association, a 501c3 dedicated to preserving its architectural history and expanding commercial opportunities for this US-1 corridor. She is Past Chair of the Miami Section of the Florida American Planning Association, was Co-chair for the State’s annual conference and served on Miami-Dade County’s Transportation Aesthetic Review Committee. She has been published in the Miami Herald, Florida Planning, Planetizen and Panorama (University of Pennsylvania) and taught as an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University. She developed a planning curriculum for middle school students at the Cushman School and is a regular speaker at the Florida American Planning Association’s annual conference.

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