The Miami Design District, a neighborhood dedicated to innovative art, design and architecture, is set to debut the most recent addition to the area’s latest phase of development, the highly anticipated Museum Garage. Featuring the work of five world-class architects, the seven-story mixed-use structure will house ground-floor retail spaces and maintain the capacity for 800 vehicles.
Miami Design District developer and CEO of Dacra, Craig Robins, along with L Catterton Real estate commissioned architect and curator Terence Riley to develop the concept of this project. In doing so, Riley curated the work of various participating international architects: WORKac, J. Mayer H., Clavel Arquitectos, Nicolas Buffe and Riley’s own architectural firm K/R (Keenen/Riley).
Bringing together innovators from around the world, Riley drew inspiration from the surrealist parlor game, Exquisite Corpse. Cadavre Exquis, as the game is known in French,involves a collection of images assembled by various artists with no regard or knowledge of what the other artists have drawn, producing one image whose components don’t necessarily match but flow together as one playful composition. Under Riley’s direction, each participating architect was assigned an area and depth to build out, and given free reign to create fully individual designs. The result is a unique and modern architectural version of the Exquisite Corpse.
At the corner of NE 1st Avenue and NE 41st Street in the Design District, the work of the New York firm WORKac meets that of Berlin-based J.MAYER.H. WORKac’s façade – titled “Ant Farm” – celebrates social interaction, sustainability, art, music and landscape. This façade also includes “Dippin” a street art panel by New York artist Jamian Juliano-Villani commissioned by the Miami Design District and WORKac. In an ant colony-inspired structure, the public spaces and connecting circulation appear and disappear behind a perforated metal screen, resembling an ant farm of public activity while providing visual contrast, shade, and protection.
J.MAYER.H.’S façade – titled “XOX (Hugs and Kisses)” – appears as gigantic interlocking puzzle pieces that nestle at the corner with the forms of WORKac’s façade. “XOX” then extends westward from the corner along 41st Street. “XOX”’senigmatic forms, emblazoned with striping and bright colors, recall the aerodynamic forms of automotive design and appear to float above the sidewalk below. Smaller volumes, covered in metal screens project outward and are activated with embedded light at night.
The next façade “Serious Play”, which runs along 41st Street, serves as the entrance and exit to the garage. It is the work of Nicolas Buffe – a French-born artist living in Japan – and is constructed with a dark perforated metal backdrop. The façade features a variety of diverse 2D and 3D elements crafted from laser-cut metals and fiber resin plastic. At street level, the façade’s features four 23-foot tall, full 3D caryatids standing astride the garage’s arched entrance and exits. Like the caryatids below, the composition above reflects Buffe’s childhood passion for video games and Japanese animation. The result is the unexpected juxtaposition of anime, tokusatsu, and manga with Buffe’s other passion – Rococo and Baroque architecture.
In the space between Nicolas Buffe’s façade and that of K/R, Spanish firm Clavel Arquitectos’s “Urban Jam” draws from the rebirth of urban life in the Miami Design District – where old structures and discarded spaces have been revived by architectural and urban designs. Urban Jam suggests a similar “repurposing” of very familiar elements, using 45 gravity-defying car bodies rendered in metallic gold and silver. In effect, the styles of years past gain a second life as lux sculptural objects, caught in a surreal vertical traffic jam.
Furthest west on 41st Street, just opposite the Institute of Contemporary Art, is Barricades, designed by New York- and Miami-based K/R. The design is inspired by Miami’s automotive landscape; particularly it’s ubiquitous orange- and white-striped traffic barriers. In this case, the faux-barriers are turned right side up and form a brightly colored screen. The façade has fifteen “windows” framed in mirror stainless steel, through which concrete planters pop out above the sidewalk.
Infrastructures and car spaces are rarely seen as architectural projects. In the context of the Miami Design District, the Museum Garage becomes an urban component, bringing to life K/R’s innovative design strategy exploring collaboration, adjacencies and cross-referencing. With an office within the Miami Design District, K/R has been involved in the creative design, strategic planning and conceptualization of the Miami Design District alongside Craig Robins since the beginning of the neighborhood’s redevelopment. Previous Miami Design District works by K/R include the JBL Building and Hermès’ former temporary boutique – both on 40th Street – and the Dacra corporate offices.
Each of the five façades will have custom lighting designed by the London-based firm of Speirs + Major, assuring that the Museum Garage has a compelling presence at night as well as during the day. The five façades are the public face of the seven-story cast concrete parking structure designed and engineered by the Miami office of Tim Haahs.