After watching this video of athletes running, jumping, and just about flying through the Miami Marine Stadium, the Modernist masterwork of architecture and contemporary masterpiece of graffiti on Key Biscayne, I realized the London 2012 Olympics are missing a game: parkour.
I recently wrote a feature for The Atlantic Cities about architect Hilario Candela, who built the Marine Stadium as a 27-year-old Cuban immigrant, and the stunning structure’s preservation prospects after 20 years of abandonment. The piece begins with a description of my “perilous” trek across a rotted platform to a boxcar that hangs from the roof of the stadium, some 100 feet in the air:
The platform itself is rotted, and the last step to the suspended boxcar-like room traverses a bright hole in the walkway. It’s an unsubtle warning that the trip you’re making is stupid.
Once in the room, you’re still not safe – or, at least, you don’t feel safe. The ground is sturdier, but the structure is corroded and seems as if it is about to crash to the ground, bringing the stadium’s great concrete roof down with it.
But that doesn’t happen, and for a moment you manage to appreciate the beauty of where you are: perched high inside one of Miami’s great structures – perhaps its greatest – with a view of the downtown skyline across Biscayne Bay to the northwest and, straight ahead, a large man-made basin backstopped by the green fringe of Virginia Key.
Ben Jenkin, one of the parkour players in the video, seems to experience a similar moment of appreciation (without the preliminary trepidation) when, after an Olympics-worthy airborne body twist atop the stadium’s grand pleated roof, he stops to gaze at the vista of downtown across the bay. It’s a powerful sequence in an exquisitely shot video that manages to showcase both the magnificence of the stadium and the dynamism of the human body.
To learn more about freerunning parkour and this video in particular, read this interview with Jenkin in The Atlantic Cities. Money quote: “My favorite types of places to do parkour are places with a lot of risk involved — for example, on top of a building, over a bridge, or just anywhere that gives me no other option to succeed or I will get hurt.”