The Miami Art Museum’s Terence Riley has posted a cogent response to Transit Miami blogger Tony Garcia’s critique (see item below) of what Tony says is the proposed new museum building’s excessively auto-centric design, a position which echoes concerns aired by the city’s Planning Advisory Board last week.
In the interest of furthering discussion, I’m posting Riley’s response right below – followed by Tony’s further riposte. Hemmed in by notions of traditional journalistic objectivity, Urbanista! is inclined to split the difference, but will hold his fire, hoping others will weigh in. All I will say at this point is that MAM – obviously lacking a location directly on Biscayne Boulevard – can only do so much to address the street, and the notion of the building as a buffer to Interstate 395 seems valid.
Here is Terence Riley wrote:
“We are so pleased citizens are taking such interest in this project and are grateful for this feedback. With the new Miami Art Museum at Museum Park, the community will have both a great museum and a great park. Architect Christine Binswanger noted in Urbanista’s article "Miami Planning Board Endorses MAM Plan" that the museum is being designed to have no real “back,” so it will be inviting from all angles. It is positioned along the highway to act as a buffer between the highway and the park. Its location is meant to encourage full use of the park as people drive, walk or cycle up to it, meandering through the park and landscaped sculpture garden. The siting of the museum will also ensure that valued waterfront space is accessible to all visitors, pedestrians and cyclists alike. The building and site together are being created to comprise a continuous, open civic space -- a comfortable public verandah where community, nature, architecture and contemporary art are harmoniously conjoined. Pierre de Meuron and Christine Binswanger will present the final design for the building at a lecture entitled “Work in Progress: A Talk by Herzog & de Meuron,” on October 21 at the Lincoln Theater on Miami Beach. For information, please visit www.miamiartmuseum.org.””
And here’s Tony Garcia:
“With all due respect to Mr. Riley - the front of a building is where people enter the building. By virtue of the fact that the majority of users will enter through the rear, the other sides will not be active, whether you call them 'fronts' or not. As a former resident of New York City, I would expect him to know what a pedestrian friendly building looks like. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has many sides, but only one front: facing 5th avenue. The lack of pedestrian accommodation in the current plan ensure that it will be as distant and difficult to access as the current MAM facility. Location, as our current museum shows, is not everything when considering how people will access and use the building. The current design is big on ideas, but misses the biggest idea of all: museums should be most accessible by people walking down the street. I would challenge the museum designers (and Director) to study the design for the recently revamped MOMA, and take lessons from what makes healthy sidewalks work.’’