OMA and BIG go head-to-head

Monday 20 May 2013

Glossy masterplans unveiled for 52 acre site of Miami Beach Convention Center

Two of the most highly sought-after architecture practices in the industry are going head-to-head in a competition for the masterplanning of the 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center site. OMA (Netherlands) and Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark) are the final two contenders in the high profile design competition and have recently released visualisations of their concepts.

The competition challenged entrants to modernise and expand the aging convention centre at Miami Beach, incorporating a new hotel and private developments into a vacant expanse currently occupied by an asphalt parking lot. The Miami Beach Convention Center was built in 1957 and has undergone several renovations and expansion projects over the last decades. It currently operates out of four rooms, each of which holds approximately 12,000 people.

A panel of experts are due to decide between the two masterplans in early June, but in the interest research, we’d like to know which of the two designs strikes a chord with WAN readers. Do let us know in our ‘Your Comments’ section.

OMA with Tishman, UIA, MVVA, Raymond Jungles and TVS

This proposal seeks to create a seamless blend of old and new spaces to ignite interest in the area and reinvigorate the surrounding community. The team are looking to rotate the existing Convention Center conceptually by relocating its main entranceway so that it stands opposite the Jackie Gleason Theater. An 800-room hotel is included in the plans, also with its entrance facing south in line with the Convention Center.

Highly varied green spaces are a significant feature in connecting the Convention Center with the existing fabric. OMA’s concept combines a blend of ‘ample green spaces’ and programmes including a soundscape park, climbing walls, fountain rooms and a man-made hill, to encourage locals and visitors to explore the area. A network of circulation spaces extends through the site, ensuring clear wayfinding for all while enlivening the complex with a heavy footfall.

The Carl Fisher Clubhouse, City Hall, Jackie Gleason Theater, 17th Street Garage and 17th Street itself are all destined to undergo individual makeovers should this proposal be selected for realisation ‘to better engage with their surroundings’.

In an outline of their proposals, the team concludes: “In short, our plan upgrades the convention center into a best-in-class facility and waves the entire convention center site into the fabric of Miami Beach. It will feel both new and like it was always there.”

South Beach ACE: Miami Beach Convention Center Site [HD] - dbox from dbox on Vimeo.

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) with West 8, Fentress, JPA and Portman CMC

Drawing together existing elements of the site and integrating a new 800-room hotel, BIG’s proposal suggests the introduction of parks and gardens to form ‘archipelago of urban oases’ for public enjoyment. The plans include a new public square as the heart of the development to act as ‘the front door’ to the convention center and an outdoor arena for open-air events.

Should they win the competition, BIG intend to preserve the existing Jackie Gleason Theater which was renovated in 2007 and formerly threatened with demolition as part of wider redevelopment plans. The team would open up the theatre at street level to create a ‘lively centrepiece in this new neighborhood’, benefitting from added footfall from a new Latin American Cultural Museum nearby.

Jamie Maslyn Larsen of West 8 explains: “Rather than scattering all the program across the 52 acre site we have decided to concentrate it around the center piece of our public realm – Miami Beach Square bringing focus to the renovated Jackie Gleason Theater, the entrance of the convention center and for the first time ever creating a worthy civic presence to Miami Beach City Hall.”

Stitching the Miami Beach Convention Center into the city’s urban fabric will be a plethora of green walkways and plazas, echoing the existing human-scale environment of Miami and its shaded pathways. For this proposal, pedestrian access is key in bringing the area to life and this is demonstrated in the move to blend the building programmes on a pedestrian journey.

As visitors stroll around the block, the building use shifts from public to private, cultural to civic, and conference to residential. The south elevation of the hotel is to act as a continuation of the Convention Center lobby and a public artwork scheme is incorporated for the roof of the Center as an ongoing dedication to the animation and continuing evolution of this significant cultural building.


OMA are currently hiring for a Site Architect in Copenhagen via WAN Jobs. Click here to view the full job description.

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