After almost two years of construction, The Bass, Miami’s museum of contemporary art, is scheduled to open this fall. The project was initially scheduled to be completed December 2016 to coincide with Art Basel, but was forced to extend the construction timeline to accommodate the extra care needed to revive a historic structure.
The original building was constructed in the 1930s and was designed by Miami architect Russell Pancoast. It was first built as the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center—considered South Florida’s first public space dedicated to art—and was renamed The Bass Museum of Art in 1964. Soon after, it was added to the National Register as “an exemplar of Art Deco architecture [sic].”
In 2001, the building underwent its first expansion at the hands of Arata Isozaki & Associates, a Tokyo-based architecture firm known for its work on projects such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona. The renovation added a wing to the building and a second level to house 16,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The museum board soon realized that it would need more room, and began plans for a second renovation, which broke ground in 2015. The team for this renovation includes Arata Isozaki & Associates and David Gauld, a consulting architect in New York, in addition to Jonathan Caplan of Project-Space, who redesigned the interior aesthetic of the museum.
The new additions build on the existing footprint of the structure, creating three additional galleries for a total of six. A creativity center will be housed in a new education wing, quadrupling the museum’s previous education space. The interior renovations are the most considerable in the building’s history, involving the reconfiguration of two courtyards to accommodate a new museum store and cafe. Though the changes alter some of the existing footprint, they will also allow visitors to once again use the original entrance of the building from Collins Park.
“[The] historic building is of real significance to our community, and one of the few structures of its kind on Miami Beach,” said Debbie Tackett, preservation and design manager for the Miami Beach Planning Department, in a statement. “The fact that the museum is striving to expand its exhibition and educational spaces while maintaining the integrity of the existing architecture makes this an example of resilient preservation.”
The Bass museum is scheduled to reopen fall 2017.