Nakeia Martin: Miami as Text 2023

“Encounter as Text”

Nakeia Martin of FIU at Florida International University, January 27, 2023

Miami is a new city that is still growing, and there are many different cultures and niche groups that can only thrive in this unique environment. As a new resident of the city, I sometimes have a different view of Miami as a whole than many of the people who have lived here for a long time. This is especially true when it comes to how the chaos really helps the city grow. Most of what I know about the culture is also strongly connected to the architecture of the neighborhood. The various sorts of design in Miami are what attracted me to the city, and vice versa for Spain when I visit there in June. I think Miami is the best city in the world to learn about architecture because there are so many different ways to design things in the city.

There are many different architectural styles in different parts of the city, including:

Vizcaya Museum is an example of Italianate architecture, Coral Gables has a Spanish style, Coconut Grove has Caribbean design,  Brickell has modern skyscrapers and walkability, Opa Locka has Arabic architecture, Miami Beach has the highest collection of Art Deco in the world, and lastly, there is the architectural attraction of abstract art in the Design District. While the art on the walls of Wynwood is impressive, the buildings themselves are more of a canvas than a design attraction.

With all these design factors in the radius of Vice City, what more can you want as a student, especially one that can relate these experiences back to the country, Spain, that has heavily influenced the city as a whole. The reasoning behind my travels to Spain isn’t because of a generational connection to their culture, as my country, Guyana, is the only English-speaking country in South America. Spain’s influence hasn’t spread everywhere, but I still love their unique style of architecture, especially in Andalusia, where many buildings have elements of Islamic architecture. While I don’t have a blood tie to Spain like many of the other students do, the research and passion I have for my upcoming profession have allowed me to become more versed in the impact of architecture on the skies, people, land, and trees of Spain.

The connection between Coral Gables and Spain is not only visible in their architectural styles, but also in the road names, which include Spanish cities such as Segovia. Initially, I was going to attend the IE University campus in Segovia to study the buildings firsthand; however, I ended up at the next best thing, Miami. The significance of this relationship stems from the fact that, for the past year, Coral Gables has served as an odd oasis to my dream of traveling the world, beginning with Spain.

Design is not limited to just architecture for me; it also includes fashion, which is why the wardrobe shortage may be the hardest factor about going on an adventure in Europe. While dressing up is another strong interest of mine, finding niche stores within Spain will be a major goal, in particular finding jewelry thrift shops. Everything with good design should follow a function, and the exploration of witnessing a new culture in Spain will definitely inspire me going forward on many fronts.

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