Miami Art Museum Starts Vertical Construction at Museum Park

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Miami might actually get an art museum worthy of its visual art scene after all.  Despite recession hiccups and a tainted history of Miami development projects, the new Miami Art Museum at Museum Park is well underway. The foundation (above) was just completed for the new space, which will be three times the size of the current downtown art museum.

As we reported last year, Miami's art community wasn't entirely convinced that the project would be completed. Art collector Marty Margulies said:

It'll never happen. That's the pattern of public facilities here. They started building with no money, so they'll come to the county to pony up the money. That's what happened with the Arsht Center, which was [supposed to cost] $240 million and turned out to be $400 million.

Despite being in the world spotlight for Art Basel Miami Beach and our city's own impressive cadre of visual artists, there was no centralized space for viewing art. The MAM's current 34,000 square feet space, where its been since 1986, inspired a rash of private collections -- Margulies, Rubell, de la Cruz -- to opt for warehouses that allowed for impressive permanent collections. It was so notorious, art critic Tyler Green called this satellite system of museums and galleries the "Miami Model."

Space will not be an issue at the new Miami Art Museum, slated to open in 2013. Its three stories boast 120,00 square feet of interior exhibition space and 300,000 square feet of total programmable space when you factor in outdoor spaces. The structure is being built in 29-acre Museum Park overlooking Biscayne Bay and will include public gardens and sculpture installations.

The new MAM is being designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the same Swiss firm that created the "house of cards" parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road, often cited for its architectural bravado.

Their design plan for the museum includes a library, an auditorium, classrooms, art and digital media workshop spaces, and a café. The entire structure will sit on an elevated platform and below a canopy, both of which will extend far beyond the museum's walls, creating a shaded veranda and plazas.

They promise lots of natural light and views of the surrounding park and bay as well as innovative landscape integration that melds the tropical park and modernist building. In a crafty design trick, the main gallery level will appear to float between other transparent levels.

The high-concept design makes even us here at New Times, Miami's resident skeptics and cranks, feel inspired. With the foundation now in place, the construction team will begin going vertical, and frankly, 2013 can't get here soon enough.

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