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University of Miami Lakeside Village

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Captures, infiltrates, and evaporates an estimated 59% of average annual rainfall with green roofs and rain gardens.
  • Increased species richness, with a 265% increase in the number of plant species from an estimated 20 species to 73 species.
  • Reduces overall average temperatures by 4° F on a sunny late afternoon, as compared to an adjacent parking lot with conditions similar to the site before the redesign. The main entry, where a breezeway was created by the elevation of the building, was 8° F cooler than the adjacent parking lot.
  • Sequesters approximately 12 tons of carbon annually in 73 existing canopy trees preserved on site. The 227 newly-planted trees will sequester approximately 5 tons of atmospheric carbon this year and will sequester a projected 73 tons of atmospheric carbon annually after 10 years.


  • Provides opportunities for recreation year-round. Of the 153 users observed on the site during an out-of-session summer weekday, 36 were engaged in 6 different recreational activities, spending an average of 18 minutes in the space.
  • Promotes social interaction, with 44% of 153 observed users visiting the site in groups of 2 or more.

At a Glance

  • Designer


  • Project Type


  • Former Land Use

    Greyfield (parking lot)

  • Location

    5600 George E Merrick St
    Coral Gables, Florida 33146
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  • Climate Zone

    Tropical monsoon

  • Size

    12.5 acres

  • Budget

    $3 million

  • Completion Date

    January 2020

The University of Miami Lakeside Village is a student housing complex located on a former 12.5-acre parking lot at the university’s Coral Gables, Florida campus. The 25 interconnected residential and institutional buildings house 1,115 student residents. The tropical waterfront landscape includes 26 green roofs, rain gardens, a volleyball court, an outdoor gym, and a variety of passive and active outdoor spaces. In an effort to connect students to the native Florida landscape and provide an opportunity for them to experience nature without leaving campus, the site includes 73 different native species of plants and over 300 established and newly planted trees. The green roofs and rain gardens include a variety of native habitats that are not often incorporated in traditional campus design. The result is a vibrant, social area of campus that blends indoor and outdoor space and provides health and social benefits for residents and other campus users alike.


  • Enhance campus connectivity through the delineation of natural paths of travel and removal of buildings as obstacles.
  • Create synergy between landscape and architecture.
  • Provide shaded comfortable outdoor areas to increase outdoor socialization, recreation, and relaxation.
  • Create a biophilic experience enhancing mood and creativity in the university community.
  • Reuse and repurpose existing site elements as landmarks.
  • Improve plant and animal biodiversity on the ground level, elevated gardens, and green roofs.
  • Reduce greywater pressure downstream by implementing best management practices (BMPs) such as green roofs, rain gardens, and impervious surfaces to handle runoff on site.


  • Located on the shore of 156-acre Lake Osceola, the 540,000-sf Student Housing Complex includes 25 interconnected buildings and 273,764 sf of landscape that serves 1,115 student residents as well as other campus users who pass through the site or attend classes in the buildings.
  • Each building is raised above ground level so that pedestrians pass under the buildings. This provides seamless movement to and from the surrounding campus, space for additional outdoor programming, and shade and protection from rain — an important feature in South Florida’s tropical climate.
  • The site’s 25 extensive green roofs and one intensive green roof encompass 60,000 sf. The extensive roofs are planted with native bahia grass designed to stabilize the soil in the sloped roof design and capture rainwater. Roof slopes vary from 11% to 20% across the 25 green roofs, which were designed to withstand hurricane winds. The green roof maintenance program now allows for “desired colonization” of additional pollinator-friendly plants with larger woodier species being removed as needed. Green roofs are only accessible to the maintenance team, and the single intensive green roof is the only one visible from the building interior.
  • The tropical native landscape plantings are in 3 layers, each with a different experience. The green roofs located atop each building are inaccessible to people but attract various pollinator insect and bird species. On the second and third floors, a second layer of private terraces provide a more intimate experience for the residents of the buildings. Native plants in large extensive green roof planters surround informal seating areas. The walls of these planters extend to provide additional seating. Trees are also found at mid-level, located in tree planters that are 30 in deep. Lastly, the ground level has an open, active feel with larger planting beds and large specimen trees, high traffic pathways elevated over rain gardens, and a large sand area that can be programmed for social and recreational activities.
  • The site includes more than 70 plant species on 12.5 acres of land, providing plant diversity which attracts a wide array of insects and amphibians. 
  • More than 100 trees were preserved in place or held for relocation in on-site nurseries during construction, resulting in over 74,000 sf of tree canopy that was originally on-site remaining on the site. Some key examples of species which were relocated include black olive tree (Bucida buceras), Spanish stopper (Eugenia foetida), and gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba).
  • 2 rain gardens covering approximately 4,000 sf capture runoff from the site. They are connected by a pipe as only one of them has a catch basin to collect the water that enters both areas. A pedestrian concrete bridge separates the rain gardens. Rain garden plantings include a diverse selection of native plant species such as bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and fakahatchee grass (Tripsacum dactyloides).
  • The 1,800-sf outdoor gym equipment includes fitness steps, ropes, an endurance wellness stone, an ab bar, a sliding push up bar. There is also a 16,000-sf volleyball court. These areas were designed as amenities that promote physical activity and enhance social interaction among student residents.
  • Giant limestone rocks were harvested from foundations of former buildings during site excavation and repurposed as landscape features such as benches, planters, and landmarks.


Early in the design process, the landscape architect, the architect, and the general contractor met to decide whether and how to preserve the large canopy trees located on site. They decided to involve an arborist to determine if the trees on site could handle two relocations. These trees would be relocated to three new temporary tree nurseries created on site during the construction period. Depending on the tree’s original location, each was moved to the nearest nursery, and then relocated to their final location as the design specified. The nurseries were maintained by the UM maintenance crew and the health of the trees were monitored regularly by the landscape architect and arborist. Ultimately, all but three of the trees that the team planned to preserve were moved to nurseries; those three were kept in place due to age and size. While some trees were lost during hurricane Irma, the remaining relocated trees had a 100% success rate. The design team concluded that the on-site tree nursery was an effective method of preserving existing canopy.

The cost of keeping the existing trees on-site (preserving or relocating) was $145,150. Purchasing the same number and species of trees (but not the same size) would have resulted in an estimated cost of $58,050, not including installation costs. This would not have fulfilled the design intent, nor provided the amount of shade and carbon sequestration benefits that the existing trees provide. 

  • The 25 extensive green roofs were planted with just one species, native bahia grass, because it is resilient to extreme weather conditions and stabilizes the soil on the sloped roof. The maintenance plan was later adapted to allow colonization of certain species to attract pollinators and increase biodiversity while removing problematic species which were invasive or could grow too large.
  • The rain gardens were designed to capture excess rainwater from several of the site’s 25 green roofs. The green roofs performed beyond expectations in capturing rainwater, minimizing the amount of excess water received by the rain gardens below. This provides an opportunity for additional stormwater to be routed to the rain gardens in the future as they have extra capacity. 
  • During schematic design many large canopy trees near the lake were planned for relocation. After initial tree surveys showed the trees were not suitable for relocation, the design team worked with the contractor to redesign the area and preserve the trees. The adjusted design included the berm which provides a place to rest and look out over the lake under large shade trees, a design element which added to the aesthetic value of the space. 


Chairs: LOLL Designs 
Tables: Landscape Forms 
Bench: Landscape Forms 
Umbrella: Landscape Forms 
Trash Cans: LOLL Designs 
Green Roof: Henry Green Roof System


Project Team

Owner: University of Miami
General Constructor: Moss Construction
Architect: Arquitectonica
Landscape Architect: ArquitectonicaGEO
Landscape Contractor: Geomantics
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
MEP Engineer: HNGS Engineer
Civil Engineer: Edwards & Partners
Lighting: O’Brien Lighting Inc.
Sustainability: SEQUIL Systems, Inc.
Wind Engineering: RWDI


Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect and design team led the design of the landscape, green roofs, and deck terraces from the project’s early stages. They also worked with the client, architect, and general contractor to maintain the same structural language across the project. 


Stormwater management, Populations & species richness, Temperature & urban heat island, Carbon sequestration & avoidance, Recreational & social value, Trees, Shade structure, Bioretention, Native plants, Green roof, Biodiversity, Learning landscapes

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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