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MIAMIíS MARVELS - A PROSPEROUS PRESENCE
 
(2012 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: MICHELE PETERSON



The world’s great cities are characterized by their architecture.

Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London has the Gherkin and who can overlook the impact of the Guggenheim on Bilbao, Spain?

Miami, poised at the intersection between North America and South America, has been best known as a Latin-laced playground for sun-seekers, not for its landmark modern architecture.

Look out world, here comes the new Miami! With its fresh roster of precedent-setting public spaces, edgy urban architecture and inspired sports facilities, Miami has vaulted its way to become a global icon.

Musical Masterpiece  

If you want to see the latest in innovation and inspiration, the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, campus of the New World Symphony (NWS), is at the forefront. Constructed at a cost of $160 million, the building has transformed two Miami Beach parking lots into a hub of music, technology and artistry. Given the artistic excellence of the New World Symphony, it would have been natural to create a facility that was elitist, a temple to musical academia. Instead, the focus is on public accessibility, experimentation and connectivity.  

The building is pure Gehry, with soaring curves and deconstructionist elements, but its highlight is a tall, glass curtain wall that offers transparent views into the six-storey atrium, connecting the building to the outside. The wall faces the Miami Beach SoundScape Lincoln Park, an outdoor courtyard with undulating topography, a canopy of palm trees, curving bougainvillea sculptures and a shape inspired by the cumulous clouds of Miami’s tropical climate.

At dusk, the park becomes a hub for free cultural happenings. From September to May, select performances in the New World Center’s 756-seat concert hall are broadcast into the park. Indoor events such as Pulse, a South Beach-style nightclub featuring theatrically-enhanced classical music mixed with DJ-spun electronica, draws in a whole new crowd.

Street Art

Across the bay from sexy South Beach in the Wynwood Arts District, neighbourhood transformation has vaulted into even more exciting new territory. Despite its proximity to the Design District, the area between North 20th Street and North 36th Street had languished for years. Unlike Miami Beach’s ripe-for-restoration art deco buildings, its blocks of industrial warehouses were unspectacular and repetitious.

It took new vision to launch their metamorphosis. The Goldman family of developers viewed the gritty industrial walls with no windows as blank canvasses and commissioned icons of the graffiti world such as DJ Shepard Fairey, famous for the Barack Obama “Hope” poster, to create works of art on the walls. The area was reborn as an enormous work of street art.

Its culinary hub is Wynwood Kitchen, where Latin-influenced, small-plate cuisine invites diners to experiment with tastes and create their own eclectic dining experience. This innovative eatery has become a cultural mecca, with the walls of art, both inside and out, drawing even more visitors.

More than 50 art galleries and four museums now call the Wynwood Arts District home. If you have time for only one art stop, a top choice is the Bakehouse Art Complex, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing artists with affordable studios, exhibition space and professional development opportunities. Or, if you’d like to explore more, join the Art Walk gallery hop on the second Saturday of each month.

Coolest Sports Venue

Opened in March 2012 and with just 37,000 seats, Miami’s new $634-million Marlins Park is the smallest capacity stadium in Major League Baseball. But it’s surely the biggest in heart. Home to the Miami Marlins team and the first MLB stadium designed in a contemporary architectural style, its soaring curves represent the merger of water with land.

Located on the former Miami Orange Bowl site, its technical features include a retractable roof to shield spectators from the hot Florida sun, excellent sightlines for all budgets, premium seating areas and hurricane-proof glass panels offering a view of downtown Miami’s skyline. Boasting LEED Gold Certification, the facility is the most sustainable ballpark in MLB.

Within all this technology, the stadium has a playful side. In between baseball action, fans can enjoy the bobble-head doll museum, two aquariums with live tropical fish behind home plate and an animatronic sculpture by pop-artist Red Grooms. The sculpture’s clouds, flamingoes, seagulls and palm trees burst into action with laser lights flashing whenever a Marlin hits a home run.

When it comes to entertainment, it’s big-league fun at the new stadium. Marlins Park partnered with the South Beach party institution hotel, The Clevelander, to create a one-stop entertainment zone with a swimming pool, go-go dancers and seating with sightlines through the outfield fence. The baseball game may end at 10:00 p.m. but the partying continues until 3:00 a.m.

However it’s the plazas, promenades and public art installations that make Marlins Park truly unique. Primary colours from the palette of surrealist Spanish painter Joan Miró identify the stadium’s different zones and even the parking-garage walls are tiled in Miami-deco pastels to connect symbolically with Little Havana.

Proving that, in the new Miami, masterpieces are for the masses.  

Travel Planner

Miami International Airport’s new $1.3-billion North Terminal International Arrivals area, an American Airlines hub, will feature 78 passport control lanes for speedy processing, spacious baggage claim areas and high-tech design. Visit Miami-airport.com and aa.com.

When the Marlins aren’t playing at home, you can get a behind-the-scenes tour of Marlins Park for just $10. Visit Marlins.com or call 1-877-MARLINS. 

WALLCAST concerts at the New World Center are free to the public. Tickets for symphony concerts can be booked online at nws.edu.

For more information on Miami, visit:

Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau: miamiandbeaches.com

Biltmore Hotel: biltmorehotel.com

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar: wynwoodkitchenandbar.com

 
 
 
 
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