Small & Urban in Miami: MDC Culinary Building

Miami Dade College recently completed a new building at the downtown campus for its Miami Culinary Institute.  Lest you think Townhouse Center is becoming a first-rate food blog, I will explain: the building is the first new small, attached building in downtown Miami in years.  Designed by PBSJ with interiors by STA Architectural Group, it is 50 ft wide and 8 stories tall, see photos in the Flickr pool.  The designers and contractors struggled with, and solved, the challenges of building on a tight spot between existing buildings, requiring efficient floorplans and vertical circulation.  Last week, the Director of MCI, John Richards, gave me a tour and explained that at first they thought the small footprint would be limiting, but then they realized that smaller class sizes and efficient use of resources would be key to the program's identity.  The building is completing its LEED certification, and is on track to be gold.  Equipped with state-of-the-art video and internet capabilities so chefs from around the world can teach virtually, is it the New World Center of food?  Regardless, the Miami Culinary Institute building is a reminder that large contributions to urban culture do not require large "black swan" buildings like stadiums and conference centers.