image001Head to the Lincoln theater on October 21 and talk with ‘starchitects’ Herzog and DeMeuron about their design for the new Miami Art Museum. While you are there ask them why they designed such an ugly building for our most important local art collection. Gotta say, if I could take back my vote for the GOB bond measure that is helping to pay for this I would. Just another disposable building that will be replaced in 20 years. Sigh.

21 Responses to A Talk with Herzog and DeMeuron

  1. brody says:

    I have to disagree with you. I think the design of the MAM is actually really cool. It’s very different and fits into the landscape of the park well IMO.


  2. Tony says:

    Maybe the renderings are just not doing it justice. I remain skeptical.


  3. RG says:

    I’d love to ask Herzog & De Meuron why they are polluting public space with such uninspired, pseudo-modern, car-centric, backwards architecture. Look at 1111 Lincoln Road. In the prime spot of South Florida’s only true pedestrian zone. What do we get? A parking garage, where cars can park with sweeping Bay Views. Next to it, a boring white store front with not a single adornment or nod to Miami Beach’s Art Deco background for a bank. It will look sad and depressing the moment the first graffitis arrive. Too bad I have to pass this ugly piece of concrete every day on my way to work. I wish Herzog & de Meuron would have to do the same to relaize the horrendous monstrosity they have given us, however, looking at their other projects (check out Rue des Suisses in Paris), I have to say, I am not surprised.
    Ugly, boring, and hopefully will be torn down in 50 year’s time…by that time, parking garages should have become obsolete, anyways.


  4. Richard R-P says:

    “Such an ugly building”? That seems to be a harsh assessment, and I would disagree. I hope this blog isn’t turning into yet another Miami-bashing forum full of poo-pooing and naysaying.


  5. Tony Garcia says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just calling it like I see it - and if you don’t agree tell me why. I don’t like the design because there isn’t much to like (or not). The proposed renderings don’t show a beautiful building, nor do they show how this building will relate to the public realm (on Biscayne). We need ‘city-building’ buildings (like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) not conceptual pie-in-the-sky buildings that are interesting ideas, but don’t relate to the city and the humans that inhabit it. If this were presented to me as an architectural juror at a student critique I would say that the design is still more of an idea than a building. I think if this design were produced by a local no-name firm it would not be taken seriously, but because of the celebrity status of the architects, it is taken for granted that it is good. How does this building relate to the context of Miami? What about it can one say is uniquely Miami? I agree with RG that it looks cold, anonymous, and easily forgotten.
    Cities need sculptural monuments, but they also need normal, everyday buildings that form the backdrop of daily life. Biscayne is already a museum of unique buildings that each are monuments to their architect’s vision, but don’t do much for the public realm. Do we really need another building that turns its back on Biscayne?


  6. Evan says:

    I think the new MAM might be pretty awesome too. Even 1111 Lincoln might not suck, although I wish it weren’t so egotistical.


  7. Evan says:

    Actually, from what I know of the MAM design, it relates very well to the bayside/parkside setting. It is breezy, and sun dapply. Its purpose is to house art, and so it seems appropriate that the structure seems illusive by the way it plays with interior and exterior spaces and at the same time unassuming without plumes or crests. It is neutral, but also imparts a sense of momentum. It doesn’t strive so much as glide effortlessly.


  8. Tony Garcia says:

    What about the street side? Biscayne is not a side street that the Museum can turn its back on - it is a major thoroughfare.


  9. Richard R-P says:

    Evan, that’s poetic!

    Tony, is there any museum in the park that’s going to abut Biscayne Blvd.? I wouldn’t think so. Biscayne is already kinda separated from the park because of the lane to the MacArthur eastbound. I’ve always been under the impression that the museums will be sited farther into the park and away from the blvd.


  10. Tony Garcia says:

    You are right Richard, according to the masterplan,, the buildings are setback from Biscayne. I think this is a mistake, the buildings should have a much better relationship with Biscayne. Their isolated nature from the surroundings suggest that they won’t be very walkable, and mostly accessed by car - the opposite of what we want for buildings in our downtown core. By isolating them from the street, you make them more difficult to reach as a pedestrian. Regardless of whether you like the design or not, you have to recognize the lack of connection to the public realm. Important buildings like this should form the public realm, not just inhabit it.


  11. Evan says:

    I don’t mind that the buildings don’t interact with biscayne blvd as long as the park itself presents an inviting accessible front. Honestly, I sort of liked the entrance the way it was, if there had been more of a buffer with biscayne blvd. One thing I think the park is sorely missing are boat slips for people to access the park and surrounding attractions like the Arsht Center. It seems like fun dimension to add that is characteristically Miami. An evening at the Arsht Center by boat, or an afternoon at the museum and a sunset boat ride… That is a missed opportunity.


  12. Richard R-P says:

    Tony, I see your point. How willing are pedestrians going to be to basically traverse the park to get to the museums, especially when it’s 92 degrees outside? The thing is, if the museume were aligned along the blvd., then it seems they’d block the view of the park itself from the street. I guess we’ll just have to see how this all turns out.


  13. Tony says:

    More of a buffer with Biscayne!?! Without street life this facility and the park it inhabits m don’t stand a chance to be vibrant, active places. An unfortunate planning blunder that will be realized soon after the building is complete and relatively unused by pedestrians. The building in the park idea is as bad today as it was fifty years ago when it was first introduced. Luckily contemporary city buildings shy away from this practice (with this obvious exception).


  14. Evan says:

    Well by buffer, I meant something like not feeling like you’re standing in the middle of a lane of oncoming traffic while you’re actually standing on the sidewalk.

    Tony: I suppose you have a point, but I don’t think the park will be successful or not all by itself. When you think about the plans for that contiguous assemblage of lots in Park West which seems like good development and the fact that the park is fairly well connected along the waterfront with the arena and bayside and the reopening of the mover station, the park’s master plan seems reasonable. Isn’t much more pedestrian life killed by the I395 dragon?

    PS: I still think the park should provide short term boat slips.


  15. Tony Garcia says:

    I think with good buildings shaping the park space, and clearly defined frontages along Biscayne, the park could be a huge success. Obviously the monster of I395 kills street life around it, which is exactly why I think the I think the design of the Biscayne frontage needs to be handled better. The building turns its back on Biscayne, and puts its main entrance facing the expressway. Imagine if The Met turned its back on 5th avenue, and one could only approach from 84 street (a side street that runs through Central Park). It would be a disaster.

    The reopened metromover station and the WorldCenter development are all good news, and will hopefully ensure the success of this space in spite of the buildings. I think there is a balance to be made between blocking views into the park and clearly defining public spaces. That balance is still not achieved with this site plan.

    To be continued…

    Short Term boat slips would be cool (a la Bayside?)


  16. kaelsie says:

    sorry tony. i totally disagree with you that it’s an ugly building. i find it beautiful. they had a whole exhibit on the development of the design at MAM and I am excited and optimistic that this will become one of my favorite buildings in Miami. I think the design really takes advantage of the light and environment of our city.
    The facades have a thinness and transparency that make the building inviting to the public. In the rendering above you can see where the monumental steps make it an excellent gathering place for people watching and relaxing. I love their use of landscaping inside with the vines that hang down from the ceiling. In section the building holds a variety of different experiences for different kinds of art to be displayed. It’s not just how it looks, but how the spatial experiences will enhance the visitor’s perception and interactions with the art.

    Perhaps I’m biased because I’m a big fan of the architects, but I do feel that it is going to be successful, and certainly timeless.


  17. [...] sort of related news: the Miami Art Museum is charging people $15/head to hear Pierre de Meuron talk about the museum’s grandiloquent new home. (Maybe this is how [...]


  18. Tony says:

    I disagree Kaelsie, there is nothing more intrinsic to architecture than how it looks. You can appreciate the idea behind something, but as the failures of corbisian modernism have shown us, the bricks and mortar need to live up to the ideas. No one has actually said that they think it is beautiful in the renderings or models- just that the idea is cool. The American archiectural landscape is filled with the failures of cool ideas that didn’t translate into real city building (think of Boston city hall) - which is what Miami needs. For something to be timeless it has to be more than just ‘cool’. Fashion is the opposite of timelessness - this building is not about our culture or our city, it only reflects the ego of it’s designers.


  19. Jay says:

    I can tell with great certainty that your comments are based on single article out of a newspaper or magazine you have not read in depth that’s why you can’t understand why a building is a certain way.
    About the Miami Beach bldg.
    Your lack of knowledge makes you sound irrational. Most people (like you) tend to crit a building without understand why it was built a certain way. If you read WHY IT IS A GARAGE then you might have to re-edit your entire post.


  20. RG says:

    please educate me why the parking garage is such a wonderful building. I do not see it and do not understand the need for a parkign garage on South Miami’s only pedestrian road. Lets put shops there and restaurants - look at any cool virbant city anywhere in the world. The downtown core is _always_ shops and restaurants and stuff people wanna go to, and _never_ cool modern parking garages with a view. parkign garage are utilitarian devices that do not belong in downtown areas. or do you see a parkign garae on Times Square? Woudl you want one there?
    Great architecture is like great art: you do not need to read a history of Art of Architecture book to get it. Those starchitects who think that tagging their name to some modernist steel and glass cube just don’t get it. People like architecture because it is appealing to the eye, not because Frank Gehry or Herzog and de Meuron designed it. Wait 100 years - people will know the Eiffel tower, and who Gustave Eiffel was, but no one will care who de Meuron was.
    Btw - where do you live? How about we plant a 4 story parkign garage across from your bedroom? Would you like to deal with all the noise, the stink, and the traffic? Probably not…


  21. Tony Garcia says:

    I’m not really sure what Jay is talking about, but thanks for your response RG. Jay, you will notice that this post was made a couple of weeks before any newspaper article. Also, see me post on Urbansita! on why I think the museum falls short. In addition there is nothing in your comment that makes any argument at all. What are you trying to say? Parking garages are good? I’m unclear. This is a forum for intelligent discussion, not attacks that don’t have any substance.


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