Every December, the world's 1 percent flocks to South Beach for the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair and its attendant satellite fairs, runway shows, galas, and feasts. It is possibly the only event on the calendar that draws both DavosMan and Kanye West and it certainly registers as one of the fanciest events that either could attend anywhere.
The Bjarke Ingels Group would like to make South Beach that much fancier by redeveloping the Miami Beach Convention Center. A building that would suit most any other downtown in the U.S., the Convention Center is a blight compared to the Pérez Art Museum Miami, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and scheduled to open later this year, or 1111 Lincoln Road, another Herzog & de Meuron project located just down the road from the convention hall. Which is to say nothing of South Beach's famed Art Deco hotels, which put most buildings to shame.
Miami Beach Square—a proposal from BIG with West 8, Fentress, JPA, and developers Portman CMC—would step up Miami's game. The proposal includes a low-slung convention center with a green roof and a central square connecting public and private uses across the 52-acre site. The development plans restores the adjacent historic Jackie Gleason Theater and opens its programming up to the square. Miami Beach City Hall and the Botanical Ballroom would also open onto the square.
BIG's proposal describes "a gradual transition from public to private—from cultural to civic—from conference to residential," a plan that "turns a stroll around the block into an experience of continuous variation." Central to that plan is the convention center, whose green roof appears to feature a city-sized Twister board. Which would hardly be out of character for BIG, whose Superkilen—a public park for Copenhagen that won a 2012 Annual Design Review award—includes kitsch from across the world.
Miami Beach Square is hardly the only ambitious project being considered for the Capital of Latin America. And while construction begins on AECOM's Miami Central Station is scheduled to be completed this year, there's no timeline in place for the eventual redevelopment of the convention center site. But the idea appears to be to make Miami a city fit for a king: this one, or this one, or this one....
For more details and images of Miami Beach Square, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.
Other projects by BIG include the Maison de l’Economie Creative et de la Culture en Aquitaine.