Overlook Project

“Conservation was a popular cause everywhere in the United States, but in Florida it required a big change of mind.”

– John Rothchild ‘Up for Grabs’

Stretching across the peninsula, two parallel roads connect the east of Florida with the west. Tamiami Trail so named because it connects Miami with Tampa lies south of Alligator Alley, both roads allow unprecedented views into a watery wilderness. Driving across the Everglade’s grassy expanse one is at a loss to find the place described by generations of explorers and naturalists impressed with its beauty and wealth of resources. The Everglades has been transformed by inhabitation from a mythical land blanketed in birds to a place we now describe as out of balance with the demands put on it by modern living.

In the 1920’s building roads that connect the two coasts of Florida was accomplished through the slow yet decisive gouging and piling on of Oolitic rock by dredges. These iron behemoths created both canal and roadbed in a reciprocal act that would be repeated all over South Florida in new and innumerable ways. The destructive force of this relentless effort would not be felt for years. The roadbed left in the dredges wake became the largest and longest, shallowest dam in South Florida, minimally punctuated at distant points by culverts and flood control gates. If stopping the natural flow of water was not enough, added to this myopic vision is the ongoing pressure of “Big Sugar” rock mining, farming, the invasion of Exotic species such as the Maleluca, and “development.” Today, first time visitors unfamiliar with the changes that have taken place marvel at the Everglade’s beauty. Old-timers who knew the Everglade’s grandeur and read about skies darkened with birds taking flight see instead an ecosystem in total collapse.

The overlook is a project that through its tremendous scale matches the degree of concern felt for the future of the Everglades, it is both immense and zero. The lowercase ‘o’ is for overlook a one-mile long wooden deck to view the Everglades. Made of concrete, steel, and Maleluca the overlook is a pay per view attraction. The monies generated by its toll bridge (the area between one side of the ‘o’ and the other) would be used to replace the cross state roads with bridges and therefore establish sheet flow to the Everglades. Once inside the space of the ‘o’ one has access to long parking bridges that give access to a six foot wide Sawgrass high elevated boardwalk that under the overlook, provides the visitor numerous stairs and ramps to the overlook deck twenty five feet above the Sawgrass. The overlook dick is constructed of treated Maleluca and ranges in width from 25’ to 800’ wide. The immense scale of the deck should assist in eradicating a lot of Maleluca. The Overlook’s primary elevation is it’s plan which seen form the air on approach to Miami International Airport, reminds us of the two most important attributes of the Everglades landscape, sky and ground. Ultimately the project is a fundraising project that when the roads are replaced with bridges, it would be dismantled and recycled. I feel it’s a project that’s in scale with the problem at hand.

Name of project: Everglades Overlook
Location: Shark Valley, Tamiami Trail, FL
Drawing size and Medium: 30”H x 22.5”W, Colored Pencil on Strathmore hot press paper.