Miami International Airport Sound Wall, Miami, FL, USA

Location: Miami, FL, USA
Client: Metro Dade Art in Public Places
Size: 1 mile
Award: Metro–Dade Art in Public Places Award

Colored glass and sunlight enliven a mile–long sound attenuation wall along 36th Street which lies along the northern boundary of the Miami International Airport. Separating the airport from two adjacent neighborhoods, the wall is constructed of precast concrete panels and ranges in height from 20 to 35 feet. The design task was to make the concrete barrier wall, which the neighborhoods didn’t want but the airport deemed necessary, into something the neighbors could enjoy.

Because the wall faces north, the facade along 36th Street is always cast in shadow. For this reason, solutions such as painting or appliqúeing the wall with a bas-relief were rejected. Instead, in the final design, the sun itself is used to energize the wall. Holes inset with colored glass are punched between the steel reinforcing bars of the wall and allow the sun to create circles of colored light. Six different panels were designed to create the appearance of a random pattern. By reshaping the top of the wall and regrading the landscape at its base, the sound wall undulates down the mile–long stretch of roadway. At the entrance to the airport, the holes organize into a grid. This change in pattern makes the holes appear to pulsate and implies motion.