Miami Art Museum
Herzog & de Meuron

September 15, 2008 /

Miami, Florida, USA

mam_1.jpgImage © Herzog & de Meuron 

Few museum projects anywhere have as much potential for great success as the new Miami Art Museum; already an international arts destination, with a unique role as a crossroads of North and South America.

Located within the new Museum Park Master Plan, a concentrated waterfront revitalization project by Cooper, Robertson & Partners, along with Miami Science Museum, to be designed by Grimshaw Architects, the Miami Art Museum will become a highly visible landmark amid Miami's cityscape, while offering a contemplative, quasi-natural context.

Photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Sensitive to the city's need for public green space, the new MAM building is designed to extend the park into the museum site by means of a shaded outdoor terrace accessible to all visitors, not just those who continue on into the museum itself.

An open-air structure of precisely arranged columns supports a broad, shading roof. Under this roof, the park is intensified, transitioning into a dense, multi-dimensional garden with a museum buried in its heart. Tropical plants engulfing the museum are integrated into the structural system of columns and platforms. Stairs as wide as the plot connect the platform to the sea and to a waterfront promenade.

The combination of the roof and the hanging garden allows for the creation of a microclimate on the museum platform, which in turn becomes activated as a community forum.

Image © Herzog & de Meuron

Image © Herzog & de Meuron

The overall scheme of roof, platform and garden allow the building and site to comprise a continuous, open, civic space - a comfortable public veranda where community, nature, art and architecture are harmoniously unified.

Herzog & de Meuron's design concept for the new Miami Art Museum has extraordinary potential that will only be fully explored over time as the architects continue to work at its development.

Its integration with the park, its sustainable energy program and green features, its soaring canopy and the welcoming environment it creates, will certainly be elements that make the new MAM a true symbol of Miami in the 21st century.

/Terence Riley, Director

The museum volumes float within the larger matrix of the site, suspended amid a structural framework. The roof and platform are broken into a series of planes that allow controlled light to penetrate deep into the building and parking level. The shifting planes also define distinct zones for various public uses, calibrating the degree of enclosure and expanse to the physical needs of each function.

Image © Herzog & de Meuron

Because certain spaces, such as the auditorium and large galleries, require relatively large spans, some columns either drop out or are shifted off of the grid. The ceilings of these spaces are suspended from a truss spanning adjacent columns.
Image © Herzog & de Meuron

The design for the building's structural system grew out of its functional parameters. Rising from the basic unit of the parking grid, the columns are selectively arrayed at regular intervals across the site. Falling inside and outside the building envelope, these columns support the platform, the upper levels of the museum and the roof.

Image © Guy Nordenson and Associates Perspective of primary structure

The platform and roof are reinforced concrete slabs. Perforations in these slabs selectively allow light to spill onto the platform, into the museum, and into the parking garage. Levels 2 and 3 are steel frames with concrete floors. 
A series of increasingly "soft" thresholds between the park, the platform and the museum gradually brings the visitor indoors, until the museum is discovered from the inside. Certain plant types will be concentrated in specific areas and arranged to form natural enclosures. Resonating with the galleries inside, these pockets within the vegetation will serve as virtual chambers, which can be used for events and public activities. 

Image © Herzog & de Meuron

The permanent collection galleries will comprise an open configuration of flowing spaces with views onto the hanging gardens, the park and the bay. Over time, these open spaces can be adapted and reconfigured, becoming denser as the collection continues to grow.
By grouping art spaces along alternative routes, suites of galleries offer more than one sequential viewing option. Suite plans tend to have multiple points of access, or they may be organized around an intermediary space that serves to collect and redistribute visitors. This layout is more amenable to temporary and changing exhibitions and allows for greater curatorial flexibility.

Image © Herzog & de Meuron

Image © Herzog & de Meuron

A more recent evolution of the suite approach is the matrix characterized by a permeating connective tissue that allows the visitor to move into any art space in any sequence. The matrix offers the viewer absolute choice.

Using a modified matrix layout allows a greater degree of visitor freedom and curatorial flexibility. The matrix as a conceptual framework also allows the galleries to shift throughout the design phase until they find their optimal relationship to each other.
Image © Herzog & de Meuron

Built into the design are options for future growth to occur within the building's footprint, thus allowing incremental expansion of the galleries without diminishing the amount of surrounding green space.
As the design evolved from its initial stages, the specific needs of the city, the site and the institution served as the primary inspiration.
Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Site Plan

Sketch © Herzog & de Meuron
Model photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Model photo © Herzog & de Meuron

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Plan Level 00

Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Plan Level 01mam_18.jpg
Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Plan Level 02mam_19.jpg
Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Plan Level 03mam_20.jpg
Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Section AAmam_21.jpg
Drawing © Herzog & de Meuron Section AA

Facts about Miami Art Museum

Total area

: 120,000 ft2


Herzog & de Meuron

Jacques Herzog
Pierre de Meuron
Christine Binswanger
Jayne Barlow
Kentaro Ishida
Ida Richter Braendstrup,
Yuko Himeno
Daekyung Jo
Yuichi Kodai
Hugo Moura
Nils Sanderson
Masato Takahashi

Herzog & de Meuron
Work in Progress
Miami Art Museum

The exhibition was on view from December 1, 2007 through April 6, 2008.

Rather than wait until the final design drawings the museum decided they would let visitors enjoy a preview of the work in progress, seeing where the architect's current thinking was, how they got there and where they will most likely go from here.

The exhibition's title, Work in Progress, emphasizes one of the key factors that influenced the committee's selection of Herzog & de Meuron, well known for their extremely intelligent analysis of a building's unique site characteristics, of the cultural underpinnings of the place in which it is located and of the climate that defines the environment in which the building will be used.

The exhibition catalog is available through MAM.



Last updated: December 19, 2013

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