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ACCelerating UM Creativity and Innovation


UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 30, 2017)—With dozens of national championships in multiple sports, members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including the University of Miami, are known for their athletic prowess. But like UM, ACC institutions are also leaders in creative exploration and research occurring at the nexus of science, engineering, arts, and design, a fact that the first “ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival’’ will highlight this month.

ACCeerate-LogoTaking over all three floors of the west wing of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., October 13-15, ACCelerate will showcase 15 dramatic and musical student performances and 47 interdisciplinary projects developed by the ACC’s 15 universities to address a host of global challenges.

Chosen by an ACC steering committee and through a peer-review process, the projects include three from UM: the Rehabilitative Lower-Limb Orthopedic Analysis Device (ReLOAD), which uses music to help amputees and others regain or correct their disrupted walking patterns; the Echo Earth Experience, an immersive game that employs virtual reality to enable players to simulate how different species use echolocation to survive; and Digital Mapping of Informal Settlements, which combines drone-based aerial photography and computational methods to document communities that are literally off the map.

For the performances, the Frost School of Music Jazz Band and Jazz Voice Department were selected to perform two tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, commemorating the legendary vocalist’s 100th birthday. Presented in partnership with the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, the concerts also coincide with the Smithsonian’s recently opened Ella Fitzgerald Exhibit.

The Frost School’s Lab Top Ensemble, comprised of Contemporary Media students who create dynamic electronic music via laptops and other electronic controllers, also were invited to perform at a private reception for the festival.

“This unique event will be a wonderful opportunity for us to exhibit the skills and talents that make UM unique,” William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, said. “We are grateful to the Frost School of Music, the School of Architecture, the School of Communication, the Center for Computational Science, and the Department of Physical Therapy for their participation in this distinctive event.”

More than a year in the making, the first-of-its kind festival will precede the annual meeting of the ACC Academic Consortium, the academic arm of the ACC, from which the idea germinated. At his first ACC meeting as Virginia Tech’s new provost and executive vice president, Thanassis Rikakis proposed the festival, which is being presented by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

“The ACCelerate festival is perfectly aligned with the ACC’s vision of being at the forefront in educational achievement and innovation,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “I applaud this outstanding initiative that showcases the incredible work taking place at our 15 member institutions.”

Free and open to the public, the festival’s installations, performances, and talks center around six broad themes: Civic Engagement, Arts and Technology, Sustainability and Environment, Biomimetics, Health and Body, and Making and Advanced Manufacturing.

Part of the Health and Body section, the ReLOAD installation showcases the collaborative work of researchers, students, and clinicians in UM’s Departments of Physical Therapy, Music Engineering, Athletics, and the Miami VA Hospital. Together, they developed a patent-pending device that captures and analyzes the walking patterns of a people who are recovering from a lower-limb injury or amputation, and corrects their gait with bio-feedback and music.

Part of the Biomimetic section, the Echo Earth Experience will feature the virtual reality game that School of Communication students helped develop for Samsung Gear VR. Wearing the virtual reality goggles, players transform into a beluga whale and try their hand at navigating and foraging by using echolocation. Once they master listening to find food, players advance into the next level—avoiding threats.

Part of the Civic Engagement section, the Digital Mapping of Informal Settlements showcases the work of the School of Architecture and the Center for Computational Science, which teamed up to map Las Flores, a sprawling slum outside Barranquilla, Colombia, that was not on any map, or on the minds of community decision makers, and to document historic structures in Nassau, Bahamas using drone-based aerial photography and computational methods.

For more information, visit acceleratefestival.com.

 

 

 

 

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Smart Cities Conference Plans for New Future

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Smart Cities Conference Plans for New Future


Special to UM News

smart-cities-event-365x365

The inaugural conference was held in the Miami Design District’s Moore Building.

MIAMI, Fla. (February 24, 2017)—The inaugural Smart Cities Miami Conference, hosted last week by the School of Architecture and Center for Computational Science, brought industry visionaries, technology experts, government planners, and the public together to focus on the “disruptive power” that the mobilization of new technology will have in our cities and on our lives.

“We are at the threshold of significant transformations in the urban environment provoked by new services and practices that mobilize emerging technology,’’ Rodolphe el-Khoury, dean of the School of Architecture said in kicking off the conference held February 23 and 24 in the Miami Design District’s Moore Building. “These disruptive powers, along with more radical disruptions are sure to change the ways we imagine, shape, inhabit, use, enjoy, manage, and govern the urban realm.”

Added Nick Tsinoremas, director of the Center for Computational Science (CCS), “We live in unprecedented times where technology transforms the way we live and interact with the city. This conference is our first attempt to bring together all the stakeholders—government, industry, academic institutions, and the public—to engage in discussions to understand and shape these transformational forces.”

The forum for cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary perspectives was designed to connect UM and the larger community of entrepreneurs and innovators who are rapidly reinventing Miami as an incubator for tech start-ups with the development and planning agencies in the public and private sectors who are guiding the evolution of one of the fastest-growing cities in North America.

The keynote speaker, Antoine Picon, the director of research at Harvard Graduate School of Design and an expert on the Smart City phenomenon, talked extensively about the changes brought to cities and architecture by digital tools and digital culture as well as the need for technology to embrace sociocultural issues. He emphasized that the city of the future will combine human with artificial intelligence and that from this, a new awareness will arise.

In an interdisciplinary collaboration, Joel Zysman, CCS’s director of Advanced Computing, and Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering, led discussions about transformation through datafication, environmentally sustainable technologies, innovation, artificial intelligence, and the best uses of technology solutions.

The School of Architecture’s RAD-UM Lab and several technology companies also shared their demos and start-up innovations, showcasing mixed-use building blocks for a smart city environment.

During the second day of the conference, a Zenciti Workshop, a multidisciplinary team led by Dean el-Khoury examined and discussed a project for a smart city, designed from the ground up on a site in Mexico’s Yucatan, just outside Merida. Zenciti will illustrate a customized city on a unified platform, serving as a prototype of the future.

As Picon suggested, every city, even if not yet identified as a “smart city,” needs a plan.

The conference was made possible with the support of contributing sponsors Zenciti, Intel, DDN Storage, and the Miami Design District.

 

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Real Estate Impact Conference Zeros in on Disruptive Forces


For the sixth year in a row, South Florida, national and international industry experts converged in Miami for a meeting of the minds at the University of Miami Real Estate Impact Conference. Hosted by the School of Architecture and the School of Business Administration, the 2017 event at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami was standing room only. Top real estate executives were joined by UM’s Real Estate Advisory Board members and the next generation of leaders from UM’s interdisciplinary Masters of Real Estate Development + Urbanism program in the School of Architecture, the undergraduate major, Accelerated MBA and MBA Real Estate programs in the School of Business Administration, and the LLM in Real Property Development in the School of Law.

As in past years, the conference featured global leaders in commercial and residential real estate in one-on-one conversations. Innovators and trendsetters, informing and shaping the industry’s future were also on hand to share their perspectives and insights regarding disruptive technologies and business models that will continue marking the industry.

The event, which drew many of the who’s who in real estate, kicked off with the panel “Finding Opportunity in Disruption.” Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, general manager of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a real estate services company that bills itself as a “community of entrepreneurs,” moderated a discussion exploring how the commercial real estate industry can partner with, and profit from, firms like Amazon, Bonobos, AirBnB and WeWork as they continue to revolutionize their segments.

“There has always been disruption in the industry. Department stores used to be in the downtowns in the 1800s. They moved to the suburbs in the ‘60s and ‘70s. There have always been bankruptcies,” said James Bry, executive vice president of development and construction at Seritage Growth Properties, a self-managed REIT with a portfolio of 235 properties and 31 joint ventures. “If you go to good centers, you see a lot of people with bags. Retail is about the entertainment as well as the shopping experience. We’re all still social. The majority of us want to get out of our house and do things. That’s not going to change no matter what generation it is.”

Bob Gray, a partner at Rockwood Capital LLC, a real estate investment company managing more than $6.5 billion of equity commitments from investors, agreed that the experience is vital in retail. For that reason, he sees many centers working to bring the supermarket, healthcare providers and fitness businesses into the mall. That makes location more important than ever in a retail world that’s seeing increasing e-commerce disruption.

“Real estate is occupied by tenants, and tenants need employees. We are focused on areas that are conducive to growth. San Francisco is a wonderful exporter of talent to other parts of the world because it’s too expensive for people to rent apartments or buy homes,” Gray said. “We’re focused on Boulder, for example, because Google is going from 400 to 1,500 employees right next door. Value of talent is what’s driving location today. In certain locations rent is not a factor, not when the value of the talent can change industry.”

Next, the audience listened intently to a keynote session with Gregg Pasquarelli, principal and co-founder of SHoP Architects, and David Martin, president and co-founder of Terra. SHoP Architects was named Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Architecture Firm in the World,” while Martin has engaged some of the world’s leading architects in distinctive South Florida projects. The duo discussed many of the firm’s innovative projects and how SHoP’s disruptive thinking has impacted the industry.

“Real estate tends to do things the same way until one person innovates and then you all instantly change,” Pasquarelli told Martin. “We’ve found every time, that when we’ve been able to use technology to improve cost control or transparency or lower manufacturing costs in one of our buildings, and we have hard data showing it works, everyone jumps on board.”

In a panel called “Redevelopment Ready: Miami 2.0,” Al Dotson, a Partner at Bilzin Sumberg, moderated a panel about the next generation of South Florida development. Arnaud Karesenti of 13th Floor Investments a presented an intensive, mixed-use transit-oriented development in Coconut Grove called The Link at Douglas, followed by Related Urban Development Group Principal and Vice President Al Milo’s discussion of a mixed-income redevelopment plan for Liberty Square, Miami’s largest Depression-era public housing project. Michael Comras, president of Comras Company, shared how his firm has partnered with Federal Realty Investment Trust and Grass River on remaking iconic retail projects like Sunset Place and CocoWalk, while working to redesign high street retail on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

Rounding out the day was a keynote session with David Simon, Chairman and CEO of Simon Property Group and Stuart Miller, CEO of The Lennar Corporation. The two discussed growing up as a second-generation real estate leader under powerful father figures as well as the evolution of the retail industry from bricks to clicks and from Wall Street to Main Street.

“We bought Sawgrass Mills in ’07 and had $55 million in NOI. Today we have $150 million in NOI,” Simon said. “People want to say retail is going out of business. There are a lot of negative headlines out there but the fact is if you can diversify the mix—if you can bring in the right retailers—if you can make it a real part of the community you can bring in tourism, and grow your business.” Simon emphasized the need for retail centers to invest in better architecture, diversify their mix of uses, and create a holistic experience and sense of place that cannot be replicated by online retailers.

The lead sponsors for the 2017 Miami Real Estate Impact Conference were Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the Kislak Organization, The Witkoff Group and Fortune International Group, which were joined by dozens of other sponsors representing of the real estate finance, construction and development industry in South Florida and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

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Victor Deupi Tapped as CINTAS President

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Victor Deupi Tapped as CINTAS President


UM News

Victor Deupi

Victor Deupi

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 3, 2017)—Victor Deupi, a Cuban-American teacher of architectural history and theory, design and representation at the School of Architecture, has been elected president of the CINTAS Foundation, which promotes the professional development of Cuban architects, writers, musicians, and visual artists.

“Mr. Deupi brings a new perspective with his distinct background while maintaining an emphatic commitment to each of the four disciplines supported by the foundation,” the organization said in announcing its fifth president.

Deupi, who received a B.S. in architecture from the University of Virginia, a M.S. in architecture from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, previously taught at Fairfield University, the New York Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, and the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture in London. He also has been a “Visiting Critic” at the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech.

The principal focus of his research is on the art and architecture of the early modern Ibero-American world, and mid-20th-century Cuba. His book, Architectural Temperance: Spain and Rome, 1700-1759, was published by Routledge in 2015, and he is currently curating exhibitions on Cuban Architects at Home and in Exile: The Modernist Generation at the Coral Gables Museum, and Emilio Sanchez in South Florida Collections at the Lowe Art Museum.

He is also editing a book on Transformations in Classical Architecture: New Directions in Research and Practice that is being published by Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, 2017.

The CINTAS Foundation, established in 1963 with funds from the estate of Oscar B. Cintas (1887-1957), former Cuban ambassador to the United States, has awarded more than 300 fellowships and grants to Cuban artists achieving national and international renown. Several UM faculty members, including Jorge Hernandez, Jose Gelabert-Navia, Tomas Lopez-Gottardi, and Andres Duany, have been among the recipients.

In 2011, the foundation entered into an extended loan with Miami-Dade College’s MDC Museum of Art and Design of nearly 300 pieces by artists of Cuban descent living outside Cuba who have received prestigious CINTAS Fellowships. The museum is housed at the landmark Freedom Tower in downtown Miami.

 

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With Pencils and Drones, Architects Put Informal Cities on the Map

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With Pencils and Drones, Architects Put Informal Cities on the Map


By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News
01-09-17-informal-cities-390CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 09, 2017)—The children play soccer barefoot on a dirt field, and when they aren’t imitating the flamboyant striking and passing skills of their country’s greatest footballers, they roam neighborhood streets, playing other games or sometimes just looking for something to eat.

If not for the efforts of a woman named Julia, many of them would go hungry. A 50-something community elder with an energetic spirit, Julia helps keep their bellies full, working with a group of other women to prepare meals that feed as many as 100 kids a day.

Life in some parts of Las Flores, a 5-square-mile shantytown near Barranquilla, Colombia, often presents a multitude of challenges. Food can be hard to come by; sewage, water, and electrical systems are nonexistent in most areas; and residents build shotgun-style homes with whatever materials they can find—in this case, mostly wood.

The local governments where slums like Las Flores are located see these places as eyesores, electing to leave them off of official maps. But two University of Miami School of Architecture professors, Carie Penabad and Adib Cure, believe slums should not only be recognized, but also given the assistance they need.

So with tools as simple and archaic as pencil and paper, and as advanced and high-tech as camera-equipped drones, the husband-and-wife team has made its mission to map some of the poorest and most vulnerable places in the world.

They started in 2006, using traditional surveying techniques to map the slum of Shakha near Mumbai, India. The following year, they traveled to the Cape Town, South African township of Langa to map the informal settlement of Joe Slovo, one of the largest slums in that country. “Then we realized something,” recalls Penabad. “We’re based in Miami, and we’re traveling to the other side of the world to study these informal settlements, when, in fact, we have at our doorstep Latin America and the Caribbean, where an urban population is growing. So why not turn our focus closer to home.”

And they did, beginning with Las Flores. For every spring semester between 2008 and 2015, Penabad and Cure have taken students from their School of Architecture upper-level design studio, and starting two years ago software engineers from UM’s Center for Computational Science, to this 60-year-old settlement to map its 75 neighborhood blocks and seven barrios. While CCS engineers operated the drones that produced highly detailed aerial maps of Las Flores, Penabad, Cure, and their students walked the streets, studying the slum’s building and construction patterns, peering into its simple wood and clay brick homes, observing neighborhood social interactions, and talking with  some of the 10,000 residents who live there—all as part of an extensive effort to better understand the settlement’s structure and inner workings and, perhaps, help cure what ails it.

“When these cities that are literally off the map are documented and studied, you begin to not only understand them but get a much bigger picture of their problems,” said Penabad. “Where would it make the most sense to bring in water and sewer lines? Where are they disconnected in terms of transportation? Where would it make the most sense to build a medical clinic? The potential for progress becomes more tangible and possible when you can see everything mapped out.”

Penabad compares the maps to “X-rays that allow us to diagnose a settlement’s condition.”

Here’s what their “X-ray” of Las Flores shows: Newer barrios where small sheet-metal roofed houses are built so close together that hardly any light and fresh air penetrate, older districts where, over time, wooden houses have been replaced by concrete homes, few if any public gathering spaces, and unpaved streets.

Las Flores is compact, mirroring on-the-grid Barranquilla only in having a clearly delineated pattern of streets and blocks. “Houses come up to the edges of streets,” explains Penabad, “and there aren’t many automobiles, so people walk to get to where they need to go.”

Usually where they need to go is to the larger metropolis, where shantytown residents frequently work in factories and hotels. Some of the women toil as housemaids. Only Penabad and Cure’s direct interaction with residents reveals that aspect of life in Las Flores, making their on-the-ground research just as eye-opening—and important—as the images the drones produce. What that research has shown is that Las Flores and many other such slums are surprisingly sustainable.

“There’s a well-structured network of families,” said Cure. “Older, more established families usually become the leaders, creating daycare centers and micro businesses that help the community.” One woman, he notes, even started a mobile clothes-washing service, wheeling a portable manual washing machine door to door.

“Everyone living in an urban slum isn’t necessarily worse off,” said Justin Stoler, an assistant professor of geography and regional studies in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, whose own research on informal settlements has taken him to Accra, Ghana, to explore links between neighborhoods, the environment, and human health. “Living in a slum has been shown to not only hinder growth, but sometimes aid it via tight-knit communities that offer better resilience for overcoming stressors, and communities where residents take care of one another and provide buffers from all the problems they’re dealing with on a daily basis.”

Penabad and Cure’s goal is to make UM a center for the collection of data on informal settlements throughout Latin America. “We’ve found a way to map these in a pretty distinct way,” Penabad explains. “We’d like to acquire enough funding to deploy this toolkit more systematically and make it entirely open-sourced.”

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