Posts tagged with "Miami":

Placeholder Alt Text

New ICA Miami opens a welcoming public space in the Design District

Since its founding, Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has had a series of temporary homes, starting with a 1996 Charles Gwathmey-designed exhibition space and then a repurposed Art Deco office building in the city’s design district. But this week, the ICA, led by a new team helmed by Director Ellen Salpeter and Chief Curator Alex Gartenfeld, with help from some of Miami’s most important philanthropists and art collectors, finally has a permanent home. The museum, which is free to the public, sits on a site in the city’s Design District donated by Miami developer Craig Robins.The commercial district is chock-a-block with private art museums, including the Rubell, Margulies, and De la Cruz collections, and the ICA is not far from Herzog and de Meuron's 2013 Perez Art Museum. The new 37,000-square-foot ICA is designed by the Madrid-based firm, Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos, who are barely known in this country, but have a significant body of public and institutional work in Spain and curated the Spanish pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2002 . This week, AN interviewed the Spanish architects about their practice and the new Miami museum. A significant number of their projects have thus far been renovations of ancient existing stone buildings in Spain. Their design insertions for the Museum of Fine Arts and Gardens in Caceres and the Colmenar Viejo exhibition space display an ability to create powerful and idiosyncratic details of metal, wood and stone that mark their work as highly personal–almost expressionistic–in approach, juxtaposing the old and the new with a sensitive conviction. They brought their ability to create handsome details to the ICA’s two facades, but this is not what makes this project stand out in an a shopping district of bravura luxury brand commercial facades. Rather, it is the ICA’s openness to the street and the community that makes it such an exemplary building. The architects had hoped to design the lobby of the building to be entirely open, without front and back glazing, so that the public could walk through and under the building and into the back garden all in the open air. The sides of this lobby would be glazed and provide the sealed entries into the exhibition spaces. But perhaps because they imagined Miami’s reputation for pleasant weather from their Madrid desks, they know little about the hurricane needs of any construction here and the humidity of south Florida. Instead, the entry lobby is glazed, front and back, but still flows, as the architects imagined, from the public sidewalk through the building to the back garden that was designed in collaboration with New York architect Jonathan Caplan. The adjacent ground floor gallery also flows naturally through enormous glass walls, between inside and out, making the back garden space a continuation of the interior and a great new space in Miami, a city not known for popular public spaces, with the exception of the beach. Finally, Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design, the landscape architects of the 15,000-square-foot Petra and Stephen Levin Sculpture Garden, worked with the architects to create a discreet series of outdoor rooms, each with its own (temporary) sculpture and defined by discrete native plantings. The landscape architects intended for the space, when seen from the museum's second and third floors, to serve as a living canopy visually linking the museum to the unlimited sea of Miami trees. The ICA is a triumph, inside and out, for the museum, its trustees, the designers, and, most importantly, the public.
Placeholder Alt Text

ICA Miami opens its new home to the public

Representing the first U.S.-based project for Spanish studio Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos, the new home of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) will be opening its doors to the public on Friday, December 1st. The ribbon cutting marks the start of Art Basel Miami Beach 2017, and the 37,000-square foot ICA Miami will be hosting a special exhibition of rising and well-established contemporary artists across all three stories of gallery space and outdoor sculpture garden. Representing a threefold increase in size over the old ICA Miami, the new museum is located in Miami’s Design District and includes new spaces for educational and community programming. Each of the building’s three floors are double-height, with the six ground-floor galleries holding long-term and permanent collections, while the second and third stories will host rotating special exhibitions for a total of 20,000-square feet of indoor presentation space. Visitors to the ICA Miami are greeted by a three-story metal façade made up of interlocking, patterned metal triangles and lighted panels, with cut-outs that specifically frame views from the museum’s interior. The back of the building features an all-glass curtain wall that allows guests on every floor to peer out over the 15,000-square foot, landscaped sculpture garden, and brings natural light into the gallery spaces. Besides hosting site-specific commissions and work by both post-war and contemporary sculptors, the garden also features educational space for public programming. A breezeway by the museum’s entrance gives visitors the option of walking directly from the street entrance to the back garden. The museum’s inaugural exhibition, The Everywhere Studio, seeks to examine the role of the artist’s studio and is a veritable who’s-who of post-war and contemporary artists, featuring works by Anna Oppermann, Carolee Schneemann, Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso, and more. Admission is free for the public.
Placeholder Alt Text

Van Alen competition on Miami’s sea level rise comes with $850,000 budget

Recognizing how vulnerable southern Florida is in the face of climate change, the Van Alen Institute has launched Keeping Current: A Sea-Level Rise Challenge for Greater Miami. Targeting the Greater Miami Area, Keeping Current is a multi-disciplinary design challenge that is not only looking for answers about how to build a more resilient coastal city, but also offers sites ready to turn the winning plans into reality, with an $850,000 budget to implement them. Hurricane Irma’s near-miss this past summer only served to underscore just how vulnerable Miami really is, in a city already under threat from rising sea levels, where saltwater bubbles up through the porous limestone bedrock below. Recognizing the problem’s urgency, Van Alen has teamed up with the Greater Miami Area municipalities’ resilience, procurement, and budget teams to evaluate resilient infrastructure projects that both adapt to climate change as well as safeguard the investment that local municipalities will put into the project. The contest itself is spread out over three challenges across two sites, scheduled for the winter, spring and fall of 2018. Working with local elected officials, stakeholders, academics and business leaders, design teams will propose resilient solutions for a variety of sites facing different climate change-related problems. Winning entries will focus on addressing “economy, ecology and equity” or balancing budget concerns with community input, and will be given a total of $850,000 to realize their designs in real life. Ultimately, the goal is that the winning designs be scalable and replicable across all of Florida. Keeping Current is about more than safeguarding existing infrastructure. What Van Alen and the municipalities want from this contest is to turn Miami into a leader in urban coastal resilience, while encouraging growth in an area that would be devastated by only a three-foot rise in sea levels. With everything from drinking water, to agriculture, to billions of dollars’ worth of residential and commercial buildings at risk, interdisciplanary solutions are needed now more than ever. Keeping Current is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, The Miami Foundation, and Target. The full design and community engagement guides will be made available by the Van Alen Institute in February of 2018.
Placeholder Alt Text

Miami approves two new luxury towers, including one inspired by tulips

Miami is set to get a new set of gleaming mixed-use towers after the city’s Urban Development Review Board approved two plans last week. Behar Font & Partners designed the 73-story Sterling, a 956-foot cloudbuster crowned with arcing glass and steel like an upended ship’s prow. Contained in the glass arch on top is a private floor with amenities for residents only, including a palm tree-fringed pool overlooking the city that resembles a futuristic cruise vessel. The structure will house 362 new apartments for rent, 300 hotel rooms, as well as extensive office and retail space and a restaurant on the 68th floor. The project is located on the corner of North Miami Avenue and 6th Street. The developer behind the project, Turkey-based Okan Group, asked that the building’s shape be informed by their country’s national flower, the tulip. Behar Font delivered: from the side, the building's peak splits into three discrete petal-like forms connected by beams, everything painted dental white. Okan Group bought the property this past spring from a church at a price tag of $18.1 million dollars. At the meeting where the plan was approved, the Turkish consul general in Miami attended alongside the developers. It also marks Okan Group's first project in Florida. Allan Shulman designed the other (yet to be named) development, a 43-floor hotel with a curving facade of blue and green paneled glass, tapering at the top. At its base, the facade cuts away to reveal a white gridded rectangular structure with greenery hanging from its many balconies. The building will house office and retail space, with 270 hotel rooms to boot. Mandala Holdings is the local developer behind the project, and intend to build it near the Resorts World Miami site in the Arts and Entertainment District of downtown.
Placeholder Alt Text

Miami’s flyaway cranes could damage high-rises during Irma

While Houston and other parts of Texas grapple with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, another storm, Irma, has shaped up to be the third most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, with Category 5 winds measuring up to 185 miles per hour as of Wednesday evening.

Having watched Irma pummel through the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, the City of Miami—which has long known of its innate susceptibility to flooding and erosion—prepares itself for what may well be an incredibly devastating blow this weekend.

One of the more urgent concerns raised by the city is the damage that could be wrought by 20 to 25 construction cranes scattered throughout the city, which can withstand winds only up to 145 miles per hour and take two weeks to properly disassemble. Since the storm's potential path was only projected last Friday, there will not be enough time to take down the equipment.
The City of Miami issued a formal evacuation warning on Tuesday afternoon via Twitter to residents (and occupants of high-rises in particular) about the threats posed by unmoored cranes and projectiles. In a sober follow-up tweet, the city reinforced its message: Late yesterday, Miami-Dade County issued a mandatory evacuation order for its coastal cities, including Miami Beach, and the city is continuing its preparation efforts by clearing the downtown harbor, closing public parks, and supplying sandbags for flood protection efforts. For those living in affected areas, the Florida State Emergency Response Team has activated an Emergency Information Line at 1-800-342-3557.
Placeholder Alt Text

Philippe Starck designs a surreal nautical interior for Miami’s Bazaar Mar

While seafood might be de rigueur in the culinary scene of Miami, few local restaurants can lay claim to the unique, boldly crafted environment found at Bazaar Mar, the newest eatery in the SLS Brickell tower. The ambitious interior design by Philippe Starck and innovative cuisine by chef José Andrés marks the team’s fourth collaboration under the Bazaar name, an offering from hospitality developer SLS Hotels. The company, which owns similar real estate ventures in Beverly Hills, South Beach, and Las Vegas, recently completed the SLS Brickell, one of many new high-rises sprouting up downtown and in the Brickell neighborhood.

SLS enlisted the distinctive architectural skills of Miami-headquartered Arquitectonica to design the tower, which also houses over 450 condominiums and a 132-key hotel. Towers like SLS Brickell are changing the Miami skyline while also creating a rich landscape for projects like Bazaar Mar to serve the burgeoning resident and tourist populations.

When it comes to the food, however, SLS entrusted Spanish-born Andrés—a James Beard Award winner and pioneer of molecular gastronomy—to be the charismatic public face of Bazaar Mar. His vision for the menu is an attractive mix of disparate textures, aromas, and aesthetics. This spirit of inventiveness translates seamlessly into Starck’s scheme for the interior design, which equals Andrés penchant for theatrics and hyperbole. Starck crafted a nautical fantasy complete with mythical sea beasts, picturesque coastal vignettes, and a distinctive white-and-navy color palette.

The 7,200-square-foot Bazaar Mar is composed of two dining rooms and a raw bar materially connected by more than 6,000 hand-painted tiles featuring the drawings of artist Sergio Mora and manufactured in Spain by Cerámica Artística San Ginés. The azulejo tilework, painted in a Delft Blue pastiche typical of 16th-century Dutch pottery, completely covers the walls and ceiling. The murals are ornamented with gilded crustaceans and cabaret-style mermaids that dissolve otherwise-solid walls into surrealist other worlds. Likenesses of people involved in the project, including Chef Andrés, appear throughout the murals. The furnishings include smooth marble-topped tables, upholstered love seats, and stark white wooden chairs, creating an evocative atmosphere from which the maritime narrative emerges.

The bright dining room contrasts with a offset cocktail bar finished in black and gold tiles of the same stylized motif. The total effect of Starck’s design reflects both its seaside locale and the rapidly evolving Miami art and architecture scene.

Placeholder Alt Text

David Beckham’s soccer stadium could be derailed by lawsuit

David Beckham’s planned Major League Stadium in Miami is facing hurdle after hurdle—first, there was the struggle to find a stadium site, resulting in a three-year long search before finally settling on a location in the Overtown neighborhood. Now, a wealthy landowner is filing a lawsuit to block the county’s no-bid deal to sell land for the stadium, as first reported by the Miami Herald.

Landowner and activist Bruce Matheson, who owns property near the stadium site, filed a suit last week against Miami-Dade County over the $9 million land sale to Miami Beckham United. Matheson claims that the land deal broke state law, as the deal was no-bid when Florida law demands that state land sales should go to “the highest and best bidder,” according to the Herald. Matheson also said that he would buy the three acres of land himself, adding that the county was underselling the property’s value.

A long-time supporter of the stadium, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez had previously avoided the state law by using an economic-development law that requires certain hiring requirement and community benefits to sell the land.

This is not the first time Matheson has blocked a major sports site. He previously prevented the expansion of a tennis stadium in Key Biscayne.

“It’s apparent that Mr. Matheson hates professional sports,” Michael Hernández, Gimenez’s communications director, said to the Herald. “He’s doing his best to drive out the Miami Open from Key Biscayne, and now he hopes to block Major League Soccer from coming to Miami.”

Beckham is still waiting for league approval, as well as a commitment from his investors to stay with the behind-schedule project. The proposed sale was approved in June, but the Beckham group has not yet put a down payment on the land. The deadline is mid-September to make the $500,000 payment, otherwise, the land will be lost and the search starts all over again.

Placeholder Alt Text

Iconic Kenneth Treister–designed modernist Miami tower threatened

Miami has a reputation as a place that is supportive of adventurous architecture. It is home to several firms building internationally and its property developers understand the branding value of affixing design stars' names to buildings. It has, of course, been known for its winter holiday architecture going back to the 1920s and architects, for their part, seem more than willing to still build there and take a whack at a glass tower channeling South Florida’s blue sky’s, aqua water, and relaxed lifestyle. However, there was a time in the post-WWII period when Miami was less internationally focused on selling to international buyers and had a small group of local designers who tried to create another architectural aesthetic that the architectural historian Jean-François Lejeune calls ‘Tropical Brutalism.’ There is a building—known as Office in the Grove—that represents this earlier Miami aesthetic and, with its fate is uncertain, Docomomo US/Florida is asking for it to be designated as a historic architectural resource. It's is an eight-story hexagonal, concrete tower floating over a three-level, grass-landscaped pedestal and it's an example of that homegrown Miami style. It was designed in 1973 by the important Florida modernist Kenneth Treister, whose buildings are important in the urban landscape of South Florida, particularly in Miami and Miami Beach. Lejeune argues that the concrete style (arguably refined to its finest expression by Paul Rudolph on the west coast of Florida) intended to create openness in public buildings while responding architecturally to the climate, and is part of a larger argument about the style known as Brutalism. There quite a few of these public projects still in existence scattered around Florida. However, they are increasingly under attack as no longer relevant and are being reconfigured.Lejeune points, in particular, to The Miami Dade College campuses (1961) by Pancoast-Ferendino-Grafton-Burnham (with Hilario Candela as primary designer) as well as William Morgan’s Police Memorial Building (1971-75), both of which are in excellent condition. The explanation of how Brutalism was meant to be an expression of the notion of the public may be hard to understand today but was based on notions like patios, open air-circulation, monumental public entrances, and sheltered loggia "assertively conveying a nobility of public service in behalf of the law" as architect William Morgan wrote about his Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale (1976-79), now threatened. Lejeune points, in particular, to The Miami Dade College campuses (1961) by Pancoast-Ferendino-Grafton-Burnham (with Hilario Candela as primary designer) as well as William Morgan’s Police Memorial Building (1971-75), both of which are in excellent condition. The explanation of how Brutalism was meant to be an expression of the notion of the public may be hard to understand today but was based on notions like patios, open air-circulation, monumental public entrances, and sheltered loggia "assertively conveying a nobility of public service in behalf of the law" as architect William Morgan wrote about his Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale (1976-79), now threatened. As a commercial office tower, Office in the Grove is not a public building, yet it is significant for its conveyance of ‘publicness.’ This, along with many other respects, qualifies it for designation as a landmark. Besides its substantial street presence (at 2699 S. Bayshore Drive) it is among the first buildings to be constructed of post-tensioned concrete slabs and a completely prefabricated concrete facade. It features an important integration of architecture and landscape and is a building that integrated art into its concrete surface with styled period images of the Everglades. According to Docomomo US/Florida, "this was Miami's first office building to give the community an eye-level, landscaped grass berm as its facade." Office in the Grove also is one of Triester's best buildings and it would be a tragedy if it is left to the fate of developers. The hearing is September 5 and we will report on the application to preserve this important work of architecture. It will be held at the City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board's hearing at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Dr., Miami, FL 33133.
Placeholder Alt Text

David Beckham’s Miami soccer stadium won’t include parking

Soccer star David Beckham is planning a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium on nine acres in Miami. The one thing it won't have? Parking. In a city famous for its parking structures, this apparent omission may seem like a big deal. Representatives from Beckham's company, though, were eager to explain their thinking at a community meeting earlier this month. “We’re going to be encouraging the use of Metromover, Metrorail, water taxis, ride-sharing,” Spencer Crowley, a lobbyist and lawyer for Miami Beckham United, told the Miami Herald. “We view this as a paradigm shift for the county as to how people get to large events.” In the spirit of soccer's arrival traditions, fans on foot would march from the nearest Metrorail station to the stadium, in Miami's Overtown neighborhood. For the drivers, Miami Beckham United would reserve 2,000 spots in the city's parking garages, hiring shuttle buses to bring spectators to the stadium. Another idea: A dinner cruise boat (yes) could also dock along the Miami River and fans would walk a few blocks to see the game. When the group showed preliminary renderings of the stadium to residents a year and a half ago, many complained that the volume appeared too bulky. New renderings, by Populous, show an airier design than the first, with a thinner canopy and more apertures to capture the Florida breeze. The stadium would open in 2021, with approvals for zoning changes expected to take a year. This is only the latest chapter in the quest to bring an MLS team to Miami. Last year, Beckham wasn't able to find an investor for the $300 million expansion franchise's home, but now, L.A. Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly has signed on to the stadium, and the team could play in a temporary location during construction. Before it can move forward with MLS, though, Beckham's group needs an agreement to purchase the county-owned site for $9 million. The terms of the deal with Miami-Dade County let Beckham delay the purchase of the land until the City of Miami approves his group's stadium proposal. At a public meeting on May 17, area residents came out to voice their thoughts on the new proposal. Residents of the wealthy Spring Garden neighborhood expressed concern that their neighborhood would be overrun with people looking for a place to park.
Placeholder Alt Text

OMA’s initial plans for a Miami condo complex were hilariously below par

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

In related Related Group news, The Architect's Newspaper is hearing that when OMA submitted its plans for the three-tower Park Grove condo complex in Miami’s Coconut Grove, the initial submission was hilariously below par. Because OMA had not done very much housing, the original RFQ contained some of Rem Koolhaas’s earliest conceptual housing schemes. When the designs for Park Grove were delivered to Related, they had no closets and the kitchens were too small. It took a collaboration with a local, condo-experienced architect to get them up to speed. It worked out, however, Park Grove is now over halfway done: Two Park Grove and the Club Residences recently topped off, and One Park Grove is expected to break ground in 2018.

Placeholder Alt Text

Who you need to know in Miami’s up-and-coming design scene

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Miami’s up-and-coming design scene is looking to the city’s past, materials, and building vernacular to realize new design that is all about Miami. The Architect's Newspaper spoke with five of the hottest firms in the city to find out what the rest of us might be missing out on in the 3-0-5.

Cure & Penabad Adib Cúre and Carie Penabad

How does your practice’s ideology manifest through your projects? The portfolio of projects, both domestic and international, displays an intense commitment to the discipline of architecture, its material culture, and constructional conventions. The work challenges the double tyranny of program and diagram that have come to dominate the design process today, relying on a broader understanding of history and typology for a looser and therefore more sustainable fit between program and form. What trends should everybody be watching for in Miami? Miami is a young city that has experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade. As the city develops its urban core in response to rising seas and global climate change, it is necessary to not only build more sustainably but to invest in the public realm, particularly with regard to public space and transportation.

Gelpi Projects Nick Gelpi

How does your practice’s ideology manifest through your projects? We are a design practice dedicated to examining the material relationships of building concepts by focusing on the collisions between materials and representation.

In years past, faced with a lack of clients, our focus was primarily design as research, engaging materials as a type of sparring partner…bending, testing, and manipulating basic materials looking for new design potentials through feedback. Recently we have had the opportunity to build buildings, so we have tried to engage materials and details as a way of destabilizing basic assumptions about design and construction. We strive to engage construction itself as a culturally transformative act.

What trends should everybody be watching for in Florida? In Florida, one must be concerned with where the water is. The built environment here is always considered in terms of its proximity to the water. The opening of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami illustrated new potentials for articulating the edge between the interior and the exterior space, and also for the positioning of the building in relationship to the Biscayne Bay. The museum seemed to revive historic examples of vernacular architectures for addressing these concerns, drawing from references including an old community of buildings actually built out in the bay, called Stiltsville. NC-office Peter Nedev, Elizabeth Cardona, Cristina Canton, and Nikolay Nedev. How does your practice’s ideology manifest through your projects? We believe that architectural design is a process of accommodation, rather than scientific deduction. Our practice does not subscribe to predetermined biases. Instead, we search for the most appropriate solution to any given condition largely influenced by the specificity of the place and the particular needs of the client. Our work aims to be environmentally conscious, sensitive in its use of materials, and appropriate to its dimensions. We believe that there is no single truth in the production of meaningful design. Any upcoming project you are particularly excited about? We are currently working on a commercial brewery and tasting room that will be located in Hialeah, Florida, within a new district created to promote art and culture called the “Leah Arts District.” It will be the City of Hialeah’s first brewery. What trends should everybody be watching for in Florida? There is a rediscovery of Florida’s tropical vernacular and a return to that elemental knowledge in the use of louvers, screens and passive design strategies. These responses to site and climate are contributing factors for the implementation of current and new construction methods. Studio Roberto Rovira Roberto Rovira Could you talk a bit about your studio’s process and philosophy? Our studio operates at the intersection of landscape architecture, art, and technology. We view landscape’s innate lack of resolution and inexactness as strengths. Our work strives to engage the in-between, the ephemeral, and the passing, and we embrace a mode of practice that alternates between art and design as essential methods of inquiry. Do you have a recent project that you are particularly excited about? One of the projects about which we are most excited is our Ecological Atlas, which attempts to simplify the visualization and understanding of the natural world. By using intuitive, graphic mappings that can convey changes in bloom times, deciduous tree patterns, produce seasonality, animal migrations, and other time-dependent phenomena, the Ecological Atlas facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the natural world in ways that are essential to building a sustainable and resilient future. It bridges art, science, and design, and connects the power of data and technology to the rich complexity of natural systems. Touzet Studio Carlos Prio-Touzet and Jacqueline Gonzalez Touzet How do you approach design, and how does that set the office apart from others in Miami? We are architects who love modernism and finely crafted design solutions. Our work is very intensely research driven—inspired by nature, technology, and the culture of the place or the people for whom we are designing. We think of our architecture and design as a way for us to tell stories and reflect about the people and the place. Our attention to detail and understanding of materials is an area where our studio is fairly unique in Miami. We love the creative exploration and intellectual journey as much as collaborating with builders throughout the process on the end product. We probably do more historical and material research, and build more study models and full-size mock-ups than other local firms. We still draw by hand extensively, as well as make heavy use of the digital tools available. We envisioned our studio to be a real collaborative studio environment, not just an architectural office. Do you have a recent project that you are particularly excited about? We recently completed a couple of flagship buildings on one entire block of historic Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, including the new Apple Store, Gap, and a recently completed Nike Store. All three projects were for global design brands that wanted a unique expression of their vision in Miami, and were very well-received by the Historic Preservation Board.

RAD LAB and Miami Beach Studios Written by William Menking

No architecture center can expand beyond local limits and become an international magnate for creative practice unless it has a strong university research component bringing new people in the profession. The two major architecture schools in South Florida, Florida International University and the University of Miami, have created such centers in the last five years. Here we take a brief look a these facilities:

RAD LAB RAD-UM at the University of Miami is one of the most creative and productive research initiatives in an architecture school today. The concept for the lab is the creation of Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury who has migrated the lab from his academic positions at the University of Toronto (where the lab continues) and California College of the Arts in San Francisco. El-Khoury has developed and refined this experimental studio beyond the normal closed university studios into one the most important and productive research centers in the country.

It has been commonly accepted in academia and advanced sectors of the design profession that the future of computing is not in static table-top machines, but embedded in objects that surround our daily life like a Nest Thermostat or lighting that senses the presence or absence of people in a room.

RAD-UM has taken this reality of our changing relationship with technology and asked design researchers and students to imagine its potential and real effects on our public and private spaces. For their first project, Bio-Reactor, they created a set of acrylic shelves with LED-lit algae jars. According to the website, “Each LED can be individually controlled and thus, through photosynthesis, the rate of growth of the algae in each jar and subsequently, the density and color of each jar, can be controlled.” It is a beautiful low-resolution display and el-Khoury believes it will have a more important long-term effect for living walls. The Miami Beach Urban Studios The Miami Beach Urban Studios is a research center on Lincoln Road that brings together faculty, students, and outside collaborators from seven different disciplines in art, design, and technology. The studio’s executive director John Stuart described it as “the love child produced by a wild night of beach partying with the MIT Media Lab and the Wexner Center at Ohio State University.”  “If you want to see the creative soul of these other universities,” Stuart continued, “you need to know what these research centers are doing—it’s the same with our lab and Florida International University.” Stuart thinks of the facility as a “connecter or collider” where often disparate disciplines meet at the center’s unique 3-D printer—the largest in the world. The lab has 3-D-printed large-format images of a Morris Lapidus building in Miami Beach and multiple projects profiling potential scenarios and the effects of sea level rise on the community. A final project that demonstrates the diverse collaborators in the lab is a 3-D printed violin for students and veterans with prosthetics limbs. This project joined together representatives from the lab’s Human Sensation project with the FIU Adaptive Neural Systems Lab, the High Performance Database Research Center, the FIU VizLab, Venture Hive, Rokk3r Labs, and the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations.
Placeholder Alt Text

A new book explores Bacardi’s use of architecture going back to the 1800s

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

From its 1862 origins in Santiago, Cuba, Bacardi has grounded its identity through architecture—whether in utilitarian distilleries and factories or in more aesthetic offices and showrooms. Allan Shulman’s Building Bacardi: Architecture, Art & Identity traces the beverage empire’s affair with design beginning in 1800s Cuba, its migrations to the United States and throughout Latin America, and into new facilities in Europe after the turn of the century. Throughout these moves, Shulman contends that the company’s image and brand determinedly combined contemporary and vernacular elements.

Shulman lays the foundations for Bacardi’s architectural ambitions in the competition for the Bacardi Building in Havana. Located in the colonial heart of the capital, the building took a turn for the modern in 1930 when the winning architects, Esteban Rodríguez-Castells and Rafael Fernández Ruenes, changed the facade during construction from Renaissance Revival to a more contemporary art deco. Yet distinctly Cuban elements were incorporated, such as leaded glass, louvered windows, and local colors and patterns, to provide the building with a local identity. A visual landmark, the tower’s predominant function was the tasting room, a cocktail bar that catered to the largely American Prohibition-era clientele.

In post-Prohibition New York in 1933, this modern vernacular mix imbibed a Cuban flavor. Morris Sanders designed the new Bacardi Bar, which would take up space in the historic New York Club. The bar featured white leather focal points in an otherwise dark space, with a backdrop of a somewhat satirical mural by William Gropper to drive home the Cuban sensibility. A similar tactic was employed in 1938 for the Bacardi Room in the Empire State Building. Designed by Franklin Hughes, the space on the 35th floor was inwardly focused, with wooden screens blocking outside views; in their place, a mural by Antonio Gattorno, Waiting for Coffee, depicted a pastoral scene of sugar cane fields.

While Bacardi’s architectural style vacillates from utilitarian to expressive, it was never left to chance. Bacardi created its facilities by interpreting the local style through modern design and construction, a hybrid that often resulted from mixing local and international architects. Much of this mix appears in the wonder years of 1944 to 1977 when Bacardi was led by Jose Mario “Pepin” Bosch, who thought of himself more as a patron than a client. The breadth of architects and designers included under his reign certainly attests to this.

Native Cubans led the early work. Enrique Luis Varela designed the Modelo brewery near Havana and laboratories in Santiago in 1948. Ermina Odoardo-Ricardo Eguilior Arquitectos designed an addition to a plant in Santiago in the 1950s, as well as the Bacardi International Limited Building in Bermuda in 1972. In 1954 Sáenz, Cancio & Martín (SACMAG), appearing as both design engineer-architect and architect of record throughout Bosch’s tenure, developed a master plan for the new headquarters near Santiago along the central highway for its “modernity, mobility, and connectedness,” themes that pervaded Bacardi’s ethos. In 1956–57, Bosch commissioned Philip Johnson for a private residence and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for an administrative building. Both went unbuilt under Cuba’s growing political tensions. Shulman argues that the Mies van der Rohe’s design reappeared somewhat modified as the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

Though aligned with the Cuban Revolution, by 1960 the company’s assets in Cuba had been nationalized, and Bacardi exiled. But, in 1936, Bacardi had expanded to Puerto Rico to capitalize on being in a U.S. territory as Prohibition ended. A new campus with the main plant designed by Toro y Ferrer Arquitectos was constructed there in 1954. Construction increased after exile, including an expressive canopy-structure pavilion by SACMAG in 1962, and the Foyer Museum and Bottling Plant in 1965 by Miguel Rosich and Ignacio Carrera-Justiz. Félix Candela was tapped for an unbuilt warehouse design. Instead, he completed multiple commissions in Mexico. In Tulatitán, Mexico, Mies van der Rohe, with SACMAG as the architect of record, designed the company’s administrative building in 1958.

One of Bacardi’s more dynamic duos appears in Miami. In 1963, SACMAG’s seven-story Bacardi Imports Tower rose as a small service core to support a large truss from which the rest of the building hangs. An antithesis of the modern corporate office building, the lobby was moved to the second floor and the plaza level was a gallery. Shulman points out a striking similarity in the urban plan of the tower set back in a public plaza to Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building completed in 1958. A decade later, a smaller “mushroom” building—an administration annex—designed by Carrera-Justiz appeared. The tower was faced with dark glass on the longer sides, while the short sides featured blue and white stone and tile murals. The annex took this a step further and faced the entire building with hammered colored glass set in epoxy. The design by Johannes Dietz gives the mural a magical lantern effect.

Following Bosch’s retirement in 1976, Bacardi focused on its individual brands and new acquisitions. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that attention to facility design reemerged. Bacardi began renovating historical structures as it had done in the past, with a hospital in Puerto Rico in 1939 and a Spanish monastery in 1975. With new renovations in Juillac-le-Coq, France, and Aberfeldy, Scotland, the most spectacular of the new era is Heatherwick Studio’s renovation and glasshouse enclosures for the Bombay Sapphire distillery on the site of former mills in Laverstoke, England. Here, the modern and vernacular complement more than mix.

The portfolio-sized book shows what it tells. Full-color photos, drawings, historical documents and Bacardi paraphernalia follow the text. However, calling it a coffee or cocktail table book would do little service to Shulman’s research, which is thorough without being too technical for non-architects. The design coverage is comprehensive, yet succinct. The large images make it easy to flip across the book’s geographic organization, and a timeline is included. While the history of Bacardi is shown broadly, those wanting more are directed by an extensive set of endnotes and bibliography.

Building Bacardi: Architecture, Art & Identity Allan Shulman, Rizzoli, $60.00