ANOTHER ART MUSEUM?
The Miami Art Museum finds itself at a crossroads. A mid-sized museum at the center of the Americas, MAM is poised to expand the scope of the institution and re-define its position. Every year Miami is the focus of international attention through its renowned art fair, making it one of the travelling capitals of the global art world. Currently, the museums of Miami are its important private collections. Miami needs a new MAM for the institution’s ability to organize the city’s art activities and make them accessible to a larger community. The new Miami Art Museum will be a vital public space for cultural exchange.
The new Miami Art Museum will be located in Museum Park, a redeveloped downtown waterfront facing Biscayne Bay and the MacArthur Causeway, a major freeway connecting mainland Miami with Miami Beach. The masterplan, by Cooper, Robertson & Partners, knits together a collection of attractions along the park’s urban edge, opening up greenspace along the waterfront. Planned for the north edge are two buildings: Miami Science Museum and Miami Art Museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The two museums are set on a raised platform and share a common plaza. The new MAM simultaneously orients its front facade toward the plaza, the park, the bay, and the city, and becomes a highly visible landmark amid Miami’s cityscape while part of a contemplative, quasi-natural context. The parking level is open, exposing it to light and fresh air, and usable as a storm water runoff. The design extends the park, bringing it into the Museum platform, and enhances its potential to create sustainable outdoor spaces. The canopy creates a habitable space over the entirety of the site, a public amenity welcoming all visitors to Museum Park.
BUILDING, CLIMATE, VEGETATION
An open structure of densely arranged columns supports a shading canopy over the entire site. Under this canopy the park is intensified, becoming a dense, multi-dimensional garden with a museum buried in its heart. Tropical plants, engulfing the museum, are deeply integrated into the structural system of columns and platforms. The combination of the canopy and the hanging garden allows for a microclimate on the museum platform. The goal is to make an “outdoor interior”, stabilizing a range of comfortable outdoor temperatures to make a cooler exterior space by natural means. Stairs as wide as the plot engage the platform to the bay and a waterfront promenade. Rather than the conventional notion of the museum as an isolated jewel in a park, the building and site will together comprise a continuous, open civic space, a comfortable public veranda where community, nature, architecture, and contemporary art are harmoniously conjoined.
The new MAM will offer experience with gradual transition from the outside to the inside, from the warm to the cool, from the humid to the dry, from the street to the art. As well as creating an intermediate environment, the vegetation has the ecological benefit of reducing the energy load of the building. Minimizing the sun’s impact on the building’s envelope reduces the high cost of maintaining a controlled environment for artworks, as well as creating comfortable microclimates for outdoor public spaces.
With the help of landscape architects Arquitectonica Geo together with artist and botanist Patrick Blanc, a range of plants are selected, based on their hardiness in terms of exposure to sun, wind, and hurricanes. The open structure of columns will adapt a series of advanced horticultural techniques for the integration of vegetation and structure. As in previous examples of Herzog & de Meuron’s work, such as the Dominus Winery in Napa Valley, the building’s environmental circumstances become central to its architectural concept.
The expression of the building comes from the roof, structure, and the garden, giving the unique freedom to layout the interior according to its own optimal configuration.
Bringing the natural elements of the park into the territory of the museum and intensifying them, the Planted Chambers provide a prolonged transition. A series of softer and increasingly ambiguous thresholds between the park, the platform, and the museum gradually brings the visitor indoors, until the museum is discovered from the inside. Like a plantation, the effects of certain plants are concentrated around specific areas, forming natural enclosures. These pockets within the vegetation are virtual chambers, almost like the galleries inside, that could be used for events and public activities. The chambers are also designed to complement programmatic adjacencies within the museum, providing outdoor environements for the lobby, theater, bistro, and classrooms. The classical juxtaposition of art & science, presented by the masterplan, is supplanted by the union of art & nature.
In collaboration with the Museum’s staff, a series of gallery typologies have been designed to fulfill the institution’s curatorial aims. Different gallery types embody strategies to both display and develop MAM’s growing collection. Different modes of display are deployed in a non-linear sequence, allowing the visitor to follow multiple directions through the museum’s collection, punctuated by specific pieces and spaces. The experience of art will be integrated into the entire building, including the garden and the garage. By presenting differentiated combinations of interior finishes in the exhibition spaces, as opposed to a traditional sequence of generic white cubes, MAM proposes a new model of collecting, curating, and experiencing art.
In recent years, progressive contemporary museums have expanded their role in the social sphere, taking into account the multiple functions that support the art experience and the museum’s function as a catalyst of civic unity. These additional functions include spaces for community education, research facilities for arts professionals, and dining and event spaces. These functions are located at the periphery of the building, maximizing exposure to the “Veranda”, the Biscayne Bay and Museum Park, giving the community direct access to the site’s resources and natural assets.