After two full years, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum, The Bass, will reopen its doors. Originally opened in 1964, The Bass recently completed its second major remodel. The latest renovation expands the programmable space of the museum by 50 percent while maintaining the same building footprint.

When founded, the museum was housed in a 1930s Russell Pancoast-designed Art Deco building which formerly served as the Miami Beach Public Library and ArtCenter. In 2001 the museum completed a major addition to the historic building. The new 16,000-square-foot wing was designed by Tokyo-based Arata Isozaki. When the museum was looking to add more space, they once again looked to Isozaki to guide the project as design consultant. New York-based David Gauld acted as principal architect for the renovation. David Gauld also shares a history with the museum, as he worked for Isozaki on the 2001 expansion.

“We have completely rearranged the entire interior of the museum,” Gauld told AN. “Isozaki was very open-minded about the changes to the project. He is very philosophical about it. When he builds a building, we will draw it in ruins, to anticipate that it will someday change.”

The additional space allows for four new galleries, a new museum store and café, and a multi-generational education facility, dubbed the Creativity Center.  Interior design, including the lighting, café, and public space, for the project was handled by Jonathan Caplan of Project-Space. The entry sequence to the Creativity Center was curated by Prem Krishnamurthy of New York-based Project Projects, and includes colorful custom furniture and a reception desk. Thanks to the continuity of the design team, the additional space blends seamlessly with the 2001 addition, despite a few drastic changes to the museum’s floor plan. Most notably, a large interior ramp was removed and replaced with a grand stair and additional gallery space. More space was gained by enclosing under-used exterior courtyards.

“Isozaki’s design included a main building on axis behind the historic building, and more building to the north of that bar,” Gauld explained. “The design allows for more to be added to the south where there is currently a parking lot, and that is still a possibility. The museum wanted to better utilize the space it already had for this project, so we were able to add space within the same footprint by removing the ramp and enclosing courtyards.”

Installation view of Ugo Rondinone’s exhibition “good evening beautiful blue” in one of the four newly established gallery space at The Bass. (Zachary Balber. Courtesy of the artist and The Bass, Miami Beach)

In each case, the material palette for the renovation was directly drawn from the original Pancoast building and the 2001 addition. From the Art Deco structure, Florida Key limestone, rich with fossilized corral, was used selectively throughout. To continue a detail deployed in the previous expansion, wherever the contemporary building connects to the historic building, a glass and steel reveal ties the two together.

Opening to the public on Sunday, October 29th, the first exhibitions at the remodeled Bass include solo shows from contemporary artists Ugo Rondinone and Pascale Marthine Tayou. For the opening week, New York-based artist Davide Balula will present his 2016 performance piece Mimed Sculptures.

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