Miami’s Historic Lincoln Road Gets Green Re-Design

Award-winning project utilizes Silva Cells to provide healthy soil environment for native Florida trees


Featuring one of the nation’s first outdoor malls, Miami’s Lincoln Road has seen a number of impressive architectural upgrades over its century-plus lifespan — including its 2009 re-design that sought to bridge the urban dweller with the region’s tropical habitat. Twelve Florida-native trees were incorporated into the project, each one utilizing the DeepRoot Silva Cell system to help create an environment flourishing with healthy, biologically active tree soil. The design called for the cells to support concrete, aquatic gardens that consist of containers of extremely hydric soil, appropriate for recreating local intracoastal conditions. This is a great example of how DeepRoot’s experienced technical service team can calculate non-standard loads: a testament to the strength and flexibility of the Silva Cells.

Lincoln Road in the 1950s. The Road was paved and focused on vehicle traffic not pedestrian traffic. Photo credit, Miami Herald

Cable Cars ran along Lincoln Road in the 1960s, ’70s and into the ’80s. Photo credit, Miami Herald

Installation Summary

Number of Silva Cells: 860

Amount of Total Soil Volume: 9,000 ft3

Number of Trees and Type: 12 (6 Bald Cypress, 5 Live Oak, and 1 Kapok Ceiba)

Type of Project: Trees, Parking Lot, Promenade

Landscape Architect: Raymond Jungles Inc.

Project Contractor: GT McDonald

Installation Date of Silva Cells: Winter 2009

Project Timeline: 2009-2010

Schematic Design Sketch, Raymond Jungles

2 Bald Cypress surrounded by evening activity at Lincoln Road Mall in the evening, a year after renovation was complete. Photo courtesy of Raymond Jungles Inc. Photo taken in 2010.

Lincoln Road shortly after reopening in 2010. The trees are supported with temporary tree braces. A great example of trees, people, and public spaces all thriving together

The Project

An iconic South Beach promenade, Lincoln Road has been a busy city thoroughfare for more than a century. Throughout its lifecycle, the streetscape has received a number of pedestrian-friendly upgrades — and in 2009, it underwent yet another impressive transformation, with green infrastructure a key component of the improvement initiative between Alton Road and Lenox Avenue.

The landscape architects at Raymond Jungles Inc. wanted to strike a balance between modernization and preserving the functional elements of the pedestrian-focused design. Embracing a “tropical modernism” theme, the design team sought to incorporate 12 Florida-native trees into the new streetscape.

“The design for 1111 Lincoln Road bridges the urban dweller with nature, affording vantage points and multi-functional areas for the users of this foremost pedestrian mall in Florida,” observed project planners at Raymond Jungles Inc. “The roadway turned greenway and waterway is an Everglades-inspired, aquatic-infused environment where specimen Cypress trees anchor the ‘urban glade’ within the pedestrian plaza. The re-pedestrianized block of Lincoln Road has created an unparalleled variant of civic space in Miami Beach.”

The centerpiece of the re-design is 12 trees: six Bald Cyprus, five Live Oak, and one Kapok Ceiba. The treatments for each large, Florida-native tree included openings with rain gardens, a mangrove habitat, and plenty of healthy, biologically active tree soil. James Urban (FASLA) worked with Raymond Jungles Inc. as a consultant on the site design for the large-specimen trees, recommending Silva Cells as the best way to efficiently place large quantities of planting soil required by the trees beneath the planned gardens.

Site Section Design Details, Raymond Jungles. Inc.

Rendering of Bald Cypress Trees integrating with pavement, compacted sub grade layers, and aquatic features, all supported by Silva Cell. Note the photo shows the first generation, Silva Cell 1. Photo courtesy of Raymond Jungles, Inc.

Silva Cell installation in 2009, facing east.

Construction of the aquatic habitat, 2009.

DeepRoot Silva Cell Success

The 860 Silva Cells utilized in the Lincoln Road improvement project provide 9,000 cubic feet of soil volume for the now flourishing urban forest. “Silva Cell technology was utilized to supply additional soil volume for the mature tree material, approximately 400 cubic feet of additional bioretention soil per tree,” notes Raymond Jungles Inc. associates.

Some cells were installed below the water table after determining that, with strict dewatering protocols and proper aggregate placement, it would not affect the structure of the water gardens.

Finally, the surface parking lot to the north of the primary pedestrian mall also received a Silva Cell installation, used to support large tree growth in an application that also featured angled parking lots and native vegetation.

Today, Lincoln Road is thriving — studded with water gardens, planting areas, varying-width stripes of Portuguese black and white mosaic, and a dozen healthy, growing trees. The Lincoln Road project also resulted in four local awards. Miami continues to display a commitment to the importance of soils, trees, and shading, and remains an advocate for Silva Cell implementation throughout the city (including those at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Crescent Heights, and the Miami Beach Convention Center).


Project Awards

-2011 Awards of Excellence: Florida Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects

-2011 Beautification Award: City of Miami Beach, Florida

-2012 Award of Excellence in Landscape Architecture: American Institute of Architect, Miami Chapter

-2013 Architizer A+ Award for Landscapes and Gardens


Additional Resources

-Check out some of DeepRoot’s other Miami projects here and here.


Photo courtesy of Raymond Jungles Inc. A Yoga class in the multiuse mix space below the Live Oaks and Sabal Palms.


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