Miami SeaplaneTerminal on Biscayne Bay

Jacob Brillhart


The Miami Sea Plane Terminal, a stilted buoy, is tethered to Miami’s memory of building and landscape in Biscayne Bay. Looking back, the Stilted Buoy is inspired by the resilience of Stiltsville and pays homage to Jeanne Claude and Christo’s wild, electric pink Surrounded Islands project temporarily installed in the bay in 1983. The seaplane and water taxi terminal accepts the inescapable realities of nature by giving the land back to Biscayne Bay. In doing so, the translucent terminal wing, propped up out of the water, is offers a new model for an amphibious architecture, a modern-day Stiltsville, understood in the contemporary context of climate warming and rising sea levels.

Its luminous pink legs and platform, visible underneath shallows of Miami’s azure blue sea, echoes the idea of the Surrounded Islands project. The layering of pink applies the true “color of Miami” to the one island that was previously too large for Christo to wrap. It also completes the terminus of the axis of the original Christo design, which followed a chain of natural barrier islands. Christo said, “the color also allows this project to be seen, approached and enjoyed from the land, the water, and the air.” The Stilted Buoy made of translucent concrete, acts as an energetic counterpoint to Miami’s corporate condo-dominated glass skyline. In the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is low, the Sea Plane Terminal becomes translucent, like a jellyfish, while later as the sun sets is becomes a white concrete wing.

A land-based hangar building services the primary needs of the airport, including drop-off and pick-up, passenger screening and storage. The Stilted Buoy Terminal is as a main gate and observational tower out in the bay which frames panoramic views of Miami’s green-blue waters and incoming seaplanes. Inside is a commercial space, restaurant, and ground control tower.


This is a little independent tabloid magazine looking into three expanding fields of Architecture, Not Architecture, and Not Not Architecture between ancient and future time and space.
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