Preview The Pérez Art Museum Miami Ahead Of Its Art Basel Debut

A preview of the Pérez Art Museum Miami before it opens this week at Art Basel.

Miami’s new art museum, the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), opens on December 4th. The subtle building, designed by Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron, isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a city that spawned the Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, Morris Lapidus, and Arquitectonica. Although notable architects of the mid-20th century developed a unique repertoire of Floridian Modern, as seen in the work of Chad Oppenheim and others, Miami’s architecture is better known for its whimsical charms and lightning bolt. In fact, the city may have the highest concentration of color-changing buildings with LED lighting outside of Las Vegas. The PAMM, on the other hand, is almost contextual and really wants to disappear into the cityscape of Miami.

All photos courtesy of Paul Clemence

The three-story building is organized in a series of box-like volumes that appear to hang from the pergola that covers most of the structure. The canopy is the main design element and recognizable 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 dimension of the pergola loggias defines spaces that seamlessly integrate the architecture into the surroundings.

The building is in a location overlooking the bay, neighboring Bicentennial Park, and two major thoroughfares (Biscayne Boulevard and MacArthur Causeway). It offers the introspection necessary for viewing art and yet creates a clear connection to its context. Sufficient surrounding terraces offer a wide view in all directions. Towards the bay, the terraces create 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 (southeast of the building). Successfully blurred borders create a continuous feeling of space, as if museum, canal and bay were one. The terraces continue on the south facade and blend with the green of Bicentennial Park and the growing skyline of downtown Miami. In the other locations, the terraces are more economical and protect 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, shielding the sun and helping to cool the building in its sub-tropical setting in South Florida. However, the importance of the pergola is more than just functional. The shading by the lattice beams immerses the building in a beautiful light and dark effect, which softens its volume with a poetic light.

In the spacious galleries you can balance the presentation of art and the view of the appealing nature without one interfering in the other. The glass, the white walls, the wooden floors and the concrete posts together form an appropriate background for the work of art and at the same time create a cozy environment despite the large scale. Galleries with different functions, the auditorium and other public areas flow easily into one another, whereby the fluidity is more natural 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.

In the past, Herzog & de Meuron have preferred eclectic inventions from project to project to maintaining a brand-identifiable style. The museum has benefited from this, which obviously has nothing Miamiesque about it, but perfectly caters to the requirements of its location and location. The new PAMM clearly meets the needs of a growing institution and the city in which it operates.

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

Detail of the extensive pergola system that is hung over the museum volumes.

Compared to other cities with centuries-old cultural traditions, Miami is still in its infancy, but with this building it shows that it is now well armed to take its rightful place as a pre-eminent world-class art city, to break stereotypes and be preconceived . The architecture also breaks away from what is expected. Their subtle charm shows that smarts can be 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 archive housed by MoMA in New York. He exhibits in both the US and the international art community, from classic black and white prints to large format photo installations. As a published author, his work has also featured in major design and lifestyle publications. His Facebook page “Architectural Photography” receives over half a million hits every month.

3rd December 2013

Categories: Architecture, Cultural Architecture

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