Herzog & de Meuron’s Miami Art Museum Set To Open For Art Basel

Miami’s new art museum, the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), opens on December 4th. The subtle building, designed by the Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron, is not exactly what you would expect from a city that produced the Mediterranean revival, Art Deco, Morris Lapidus and Arquitectonica. Although well-known architects from the mid-20th century developed a unique repertoire of Floridian Modern, as seen in the works of Chad Oppenheim and others, Miami’s architecture is better known for its whimsical charm and lightning bolt. The city may have the highest concentration of LED-lit, color-changing buildings outside of Las Vegas. The PAMM, on the other hand, is downright contextual, almost eager to disappear into the Miami cityscape.

All photos courtesy of Paul Clemence

The three-story building is organized into a series of box-like volumes that appear to hang from the pergola canopy that covers most of the structure. The canopy is the most important design element and recognition feature of the project. It hovers over the relatively simple mass of the building and gives it an organizational scheme. The well-calculated urban and human scale of the pergola loggias defines spaces that seamlessly integrate the architecture into their surroundings.

At a location overlooking the bay, neighboring Bicentennial Park, and two major thoroughfares (Biscayne Boulevard and MacArthur Causeway), the building offers the introspection required for viewing art, while at the same time creating a clear connection to its context. Generous surrounding terraces offer a wide view in all directions. Towards the bay, the terraces give the feeling of being on the deck of the cruise ships that depart daily from the Port of Miami and steam through the Government Cut Canal (directly southeast of the building). Successfully blurred borders create a continuous feeling of space, as if the museum, canal and bay were one. The terraces continue on the south facade, where they connect with the green of Bicentennial Park and the growing skyline of downtown Miami. In the other views, the terraces are more economical, protecting the building from the busier and noisier areas they face.

The museum consists of floating boxes pierced by tall, slender columns that support the pergola roof.

The perforated pergola also acts as a climate protector, protects from the sun and helps cool the building in the subtropical environment of South Florida. But the importance of the pergola is more than useful; The shading by its lattice beams bathes the building in a beautiful light-dark effect, which softens its volume with a poetic light.

Inside, the spacious galleries balance the presentation of art and the view of the appealing outside world, without one disturbing the other. Glass, white walls, wooden floors and concrete posts together form a worthy background for the work of art and at the same time create a cozy atmosphere despite the large dimensions. Galleries with different functions, the auditorium and other public areas flow easily into one another, with a more natural fluidity than the external play of volume and emptiness suggests. Inside, you never forget that you are in an art museum in a tropical metropolis.

The permanent collection gallery with the project gallery in the background.

Historically, Herzog & de Meuron have preferred eclectic inventions from project to project to cultivating a brand-typical, identifiable style. This benefits the museum, which has nothing obviously Miamieskes about it, but reacts perfectly to the demands of its place and its location. The new PAMM clearly meets the needs of a growing institution and the city it serves.

Personally, I have to say that “PAMM” will always be MAM (Miami Art Museum) to me, although I very much appreciate the US $ 40 million gift from developer Jorge Perez that made the museum live. Without a doubt, his generous contribution (consisting of a combination of canvases and cash) was fundamental to the museum’s fundraising efforts, but even more was the $ 100 million in public funds. When this museum came into being, it was more the support and efforts of an art community that wanted the institution’s new home to be a landmark for the city’s thriving cultural development, rather than an individual’s need for a posthumous legacy.

Detail of the extensive pergola system that hangs over the museum volume.

Compared to other cities with centuries of cultural tradition, Miami is still in its infancy, but with this building it shows that it is now well equipped to take its rightful place as a prominent world-class art city and to break with stereotypes and prejudices. And the architecture breaks out of the expected, its subtle charm shows that smarts can be just as seductive as dazzling shapes.

Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer whose work is part of many collections including the Mies van der Rohe Archives and MoMA, New York. He exhibits in both the US and the international art scene, from classic black and white prints to large-format photo installations. As a published author, his work can also be seen in major design and lifestyle publications. His Facebook page “Architectural Photography” receives over half a million hits every month.

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