“Sky Lounge” design revamps DM courtyard with a modern take

Tiny flecks of blue glass on the ground and air ferns hanging from steel mesh structures are some of the most striking features of the brand-new DM courtyard on Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

Built in 1973, the Deuxieme Maison building, or “DM,” as it is known to FIU students and faculty, has been revived with the new design.

“Until recently, the space was an empty courtyard that consisted of concrete paving and red mulch with no planting or furnishing,” said Roberto Rovira, the associate professor and chairman of landscape architecture who together with students and members of FIU’s facilities management department helped make the redesigned area a reality.

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The newly renovated DM courtyard features hanging planters and steel seating against a pop of blue to create an inviting space.

“The new courtyard re-introduces vegetation by planting three stainless steel nets overhead with over 3,000 air plants and employs a blue-flowering vine that will quickly climb up the new trellis system and cover the walls of the first two floors,” Rovira added.

The project began in 2010 when a design charrette brought together groups of architecture, landscape and interior design students to discuss, consider and plan changes to several different spaces on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Professional architects from the local community likewise lent their support and talents to help sketch out various possibilities. Out of those collaborations came the avante garde look for DM’s long-neglected courtyard.

Students have already started to take advantage of the new space, which includes custom-designed lounge chairs.

“The blue is nice. It’s really zen,” said sophomore Naphtalie Jeanty, referring to the shards of recycled blue glass that cover the ground.

“I’m kind of a tree hugger, so I like the way it incorporates nature into the art,” said nursing major Shanice Suarez. “It looks very peaceful.”

Students José Álvarez, Martina González, Luis Jiménez and Mario Menéndez helped with tasks ranging from documenting the previous conditions to testing the bench design. Students also installed the air plants that hang from the ceiling structure.

“It was a pleasure to work with such a committed team of students who have quickly become the project’s biggest advocates,” said Rovira.

Although already open for use, the space will be officially inaugurated on May 21.