Perez Art Museum Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami
Miami, Florida

Architects: Herzog & de Meuron, Handel Architects
Lighting designer: Arup

In Miami, “art” usually means “art deco.” But that is exactly what Herzog & de Meuron did not want for their Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), formerly the Miami Art Museum. “Art deco was about decorated boxes with no great relationship and exchange between inside and outside,” said senior partner Jacques Herzog. “The greatest thing, however, that makes Miami so extraordinary is its amazing climate, lush vegetation, and cultural diversity.” The firm’s design, a glass cube nestled inside a concrete and wood canopy, rejects the interiority of most art museums in favor of direct engagement with its surroundings. “Given the spectacular location, PAMM offers more views than any of the other 14 museums we built,” said partner in charge Christine Binswanger. “To balance the intimate and concentrated experience of contemporary art with exposure to the sea and the park was one of the things we wanted to achieve.”

Achieving this balance between openness and intimacy was a particular challenge when it came to the museum’s lighting design. Herzog & de Meuron and executive architect Handel Architects employed the canopy not just to shade the outdoor spaces, but also to protect PAMM’s extensive glazing from the Miami sun. Inside the museum’s galleries, the architects opted for a combination of incandescent track lights (by Litelab) for highlighting the artworks and four-foot-long fluorescents (by Bartco) for ambient light. The addition of the fluorescent lights was “done both as a lighting strategy and as an energy-saving strategy,” said Matt Franks of Arup, the project’s lighting designer. An automated dimming system adjusts the artificial light according to the amount of daylight coming in.

The fluorescent lighting system extends throughout many of the museum’s non-gallery spaces, including the shops and bar. For the cafe, Herzog & de Meuron designed a simple custom pendant fixture—“really just a suspended lamp with a simple bulb in it,” said Franks. Daltile manufactured custom ceramic escutcheon plates, again designed by Herzog & de Meuron, for the ceiling and pendant lights in the museum’s restrooms and secondary corridors. For PAMM’s third-floor offices, Litelab fabricated an aluminum pendant task light based on the PAR-38 spotlight. Similar lights, also by Litelab, hang in the museum gift shop.

“In the outdoor space, within the space of the canopy, we made the conscious decision to not continue the same lighting from inside, but rather create a space that would be darker, more comfortable, and more environmentally friendly,” said Herzog & de Meuron. “The contrast of the lighting from outside to inside also allows the interior spaces to glow from within.” To diffuse the light from the column-mounted fixtures (BEGA-US), the designers commissioned custom bent steel plate light reflectors from American Architectural Metals and Glass.

The straightforwardness of PAMM’s lighting strategy belies the extent to which Herzog & de Meuron’s inside-out approach to museum design depends on its success. “The design concept is pretty simple,” concluded Franks, “but there’s a lot of thought that went into how everything fit together.”

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