The city Planning Advisory Board unanimously endorsed the Herzog and de Meuron scheme for the new Miami Art Museum on Biscayne Bay, in what is now Bicentennial Park. The Major Use Special Permit now goes to the city commission for final approval, date TBA.
The vote Tuesday night was unanimous. But that’s not to say there weren’t some serious concerns, mostly around pedestrian and bicycle access.
Lots of praise from board members for the Basel firm’s thoughtful – and ostentatiously, literally green -- architectural design, kind of a Hanging Gardens of Babylon on the Bay. A broad ‘’porch’’ under an expansive overhanging canopy roof extends all the way around the square building, which opens to a broad staircase directly on the bay side. Vine-like plants would hang in strands from the underside of the canopy (test plants are already being grown on the site).
Still, lots of concern also from the board over what one member called the museum’s ‘’auto-centric’’ design -- based apparently on a traffic study’s conclusion that more than 90 percent of projected 200,000 annual visitors will arrive by car. (The museum is also required to build a 200-slot garage, but is asking for a 20-space reduction in the required minimum).
Board member Ernest Martin, echoed by others, said he was appalled that the city has made few apparent provisions to ease pedestrians’ and cyclists’ access to the site, especially in making the perilous Biscayne Boulevard crossing. Some even wondered whether the museum’s location at some distance from the boulevard could dampen attendance.
Riley and Herzog and de Meuron partner Christine Binswanger did note the plaza plan – to be designed by another hot firm, Field Operations – will make accommodations for visitors arriving at the now-closed Bicentennial Park Metromover station.
But that wasn’t enough for the board, which asked that the city conduct an analysis of pedestrian and bike access and come up with some possible solutions.
The MAM building does not open to the plaza that separates it from the planned Miami Science Museum, whose main entry will disgorge on the public space. But MAM director Terrence Riley said visitors will be able to walk onto the “porch’’ from the plaza, and from there all around the building under the canopy to the museum’s front doors. In architecture-speak, the building has no back, said Binswanger.
The Powerpoint renderings shown were not drastically different from conceptual plans released two years ago, but the design has clearly been refined. Urbanista! is trying to get some of the new renderings, but MAM is awaiting tweaks from the starchitects before releasing those, probably on or close to Oct. 21, the date of Pierre de Meuron’s talk at the Lincoln Theater on Miami Beach (see item below).