Germane Barnes' Vision for Opa-Locka
Situated north of Miami, Opa-Locka is known for its "Moorish" take on 1920s Art Deco design. It also harbors festering crime problems and a disadvantaged populace. The city has recently embraced Germane Barnes, a planner and architect who believes that revitalization need not bring about gentrification and displacement.
Since moving in as designer-in-residence, Barnes has taken on projects that he hopes will rekindle the city's image of itself.
In his words, "This experience has let me know that architecture can speak to and touch people and change things, regardless of what academia or what the old guard may want you to believe [...] What starts as a grand proposal may need to be scaled back, big time. So now, we may only do three or four projects instead of a dozen, but it helps us focus on things we can change instead of spinning our wheels."
Barnes' completed projects include an arts and recreation center, a community park, and a high-impact repainting project on Ali Baba Avenue, one of the neighborhood's main thoroughfares. "His next series of projects, including a community garden and urban farm as well as a proposed series of public houses, open studio spaces meant for the community, aim to provide much needed infrastructure and fresh food."