A landmark may soon disappear from Lincoln Road, albeit one that has often been ridiculed.
On Wednesday, Miami Beach’s Land Use and Development Committee unanimously voted in favor of removing a triangular glass-and-metal-structure from the 400 block of Lincoln Road. Designed by architect and artist Carlos Zapata, the structure, which also includes two rectangular water fountains and a planter bed, is the first thing that greets tourists walking west from the beach.
Completed in 1999, the structure was soon called “the roach” or “the wing” by Miami Beach officials. It cost $259,000 to build and was, according to a Miami Herald article from that time, “intended to be the final touch on the mall’s $17 million make-over.” The structure was also supposed to house an information touch screen for tourists, but the device never worked properly and, thus, was never installed.
The touchscreen wasn’t the only problem. “The structure was never completed as designed, missing a glass wall in front of the fountain,” according to a March 30 report from City Manager Jimmy Morales.
Miami Beach is about to embark on yet another renovation project for Lincoln Road, a pedestrian mall where retail rents surpass $300 a square foot. The Lincoln Road master plan, created by James Corner Field Operations and approved by the Miami Beach City Commission in October, suggested the Zapata structure’s removal, Morales’ memo stated, “in order to enhance visibility from Washington Avenue.”
The structure is a hazard, too, Morales’ memo stated. “The Zapata ‘wing’ and fountain conditions have deteriorated over time due to the environment and impact on pedestrian traffic,” the city manager wrote. “The fountains are used by children, dogs, and skateboarders, creating a potentially hazardous situation. Risk management has received complaints of slip and falls adjacent to that area.”
Commissioner Joy Malakoff asked if it was possible for the city to sell the structure. Max Sklar, director of Tourism, Culture and Economic Development, doubted it. The wing was never installed correctly, Sklar said. “It was not what he [Zapata] designed,” Sklar said. “I don’t think he really would take credit for it.”
The structure’s removal is not a done deal yet. It still has to be authorized by the city commission. The elected body’s next meeting is April 13.