When the Miami Art Museum required a new headquarters they decided to hire famous Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. They were expecting an incredible design worthy of a cosmopolitan city such as Miami. What they got from Herzog & de Meuron can only be described as the modern interpretation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – an imaginative structure that bridges urban spaces, climates and cultures. The 120,000 square foot, three story building is surrounded by what is known as the Bicentennial Park, a 30-acre spread of green space along Biscayne Bay. Rather than creating an imposing structure which would wall off the visitors from the garden, they created a large shaded veranda and a plaza that sits below the extended roof of the main building.
The canopy roof has been perforated not only to allow light and ventilation to pass through to the plaza below, but, more importantly, to create the idea of a transitional space between the inside of the building and the park. It is also meant to assist visitors to acclimatize between the hot humid air of the Miami climate, and that of the more controlled, conditioned climate of the museum.
As visitors move from the park into the open plaza, they will be greeted by a series of trees and columns, meant to resemble a forest canopy. As they walk past this area, they will be greeted by a series of floating volumes which will house the museum itself as well as all the standard facilities that one would find in a building like this.
Recognizing the importance of this design, both the museum and the firm decided to solicit public feedback on the project. The public’s comments will be incorporated into the final design, which is expected to be revealed soon. Public participation, smart design adapted to the climate of Miami, and what looks to be a beautiful building – looks like a winner to us. The museum will be finished by 2011.