For anyone who missed it: Miami Herald architecture critic Beth Dunlop, whose writings, alas, appear infrequently since she took over editing (and vastly improving) Home Miami mag, pronounced herself in print on various ongoing starchitect projects and one intriguing local showcase to come. And she was pleased. Which is a good sign for a place that has for too long settled for second-drawer work from the world’s greats. (Beth: It’s so nice to see you back where you belong.)
(And, BTW, it looks like Miami Art Museum/H & dM also let go another jealously guarded image of their new bayfront building:)
Here’s what Beth wrote, without further ado:
For any number of anonymous winters, the Swiss architect Jacques Herzog vacationed in Miami Beach -- walking around, looking around, taking in everything. To me this is one of the more interesting and salient points to be made in looking ahead to the two Herzog & de Meuron buildings we are getting. One might otherwise wonder how a firm from Switzerland (cold country) headed by two distinguished architects (reserved Europeans) could have come up with two buildings that so brilliantly express this particularly hot and ebullient place.
A REMARKABLE RUNArchitecture has its ebbs and flows, its glory years and dark decades. But right now in South Florida -- most particularly in Miami and Miami Beach -- we are building a roster of some remarkable buildings, world-worthy even. Some are indeed big and even flamboyant. Others are more modest in scale and aspiration.
In October, Miami Art Museum (MAM) released the latest drawings of its planned building to be constructed on Biscayne Bay in the park formerly known as Bicentennial. It looks to be a masterpiece, open and airy, architecture intertwined with vegetation and grand stairs, that could become one of the city's great public places. The building will be intimately connected with its surroundings, planned by Laurinda Spear, whose new venture at Arquitectonica is the landscape design firm ArquitectonicaGeo, and will stand next to the Miami Science Museum's environmentally progressive new building designed by the British firm, Grimshaw Architects.
But well before the first ground is broken, we will see Herzog & de Meuron's first local work, 1111 Lincoln Rd., a mixed-use building that is primarily a parking garage. And while I think it's actually bad luck to say too much about a building that is not quite finished, this one is a stunner. At once abstract and referential, it is of the world and of its time and yet somehow very much of its place.
Perhaps less in the public eye (its location at the edge of the Miami Design District is hardly so prominent as the foot of Lincoln Road Mall) is another almost-completed structure -- Miami designer John Marquette's simultaneously imposing and embracing private museum for the de la Cruz Collection. Like MAM, it will not only pose new ideas about how to see art but also offer unique public spaces in an urban center with far too few civic gathering spots. (Watch this space.)
Those qualities have always intrigued me about Frank Gehry's work, too. Gehry always creates buildings that represent his own ideas, as much about rhythm and movement as about the sculptural possibilities of architecture. And yet so much of what he designs also seems inevitable. I say this after observing his Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, a building that seems to express the sublime movement of the music performed within and also to impart the ever-shifting quality of life around it, shifts that are demographic as much as tectonic.
Gehry's campus building for the New World Symphony, now taking fairly full shape, is almost the converse of Disney Concert Hall. It is not without its swooping, rhythmic forms -- the ``frozen music'' that is a Gehry trademark -- but these are contained within a glass-and-concrete box. What we have now is just a glimpse of what's yet to come but a promising one. Ultimately, the building will involve lots of innovative technology and programming -- film and video projections on the facade, for example -- and will preside over a park that likewise has enormous potential.