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Bjarke & Rem Present Updates To Convention Center Plans

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The dueling starchitects Bjarke Ingels & Rem Koolhaas are at it again, with their second round of design changes and refinements to the $1 billion Miami Beach Convention Center Master Plan. It's as if they were in a battle to the death, or at least to be lord of that land of asphalt that the convention center currently is. And are things getting just a little bit oedipal? Bjarke thinks so. Before rocketing to the starchitectural stratosphere, he worked at Rem's office, learning from that mack daddy of the architecture world. In fact Bjarke mentioned the other day at an architectural lecture at the Colony Theatre that he likens the competition to Star Wars.

"Bjarke, I am your father"


Rem kinda does have the Darth Vader thing going for him, doesn't he? Anywho, this time around, both teams have made significant refinements to their designs without changing their programs all that much. The plan from Bjarke and his firm BIG has gotten even more colorful and zippy. He has articulated the big, boxy hotel above the former site of the Jackie Gleason Theatre, as well as the new theatre next door. The old 17th Street parking garage now has a retail and 'urban' oasis thing going on in a shape that sort of resembles a squished donut.

The public plaza, modeled after a place one might see in Europe and with a landscape designed by West 8, has a signature water feature and is very, very lush and leafy with palm trees instead of the previously planned Royal Poincianas. But that makes sense. Poincianas, which are gorgeous, are only really gorgeous for a very short part of the year, in the summer. Outdoor convention spaces, needed for major events like the Boat Show, won't happen in the plaza, but instead will move to the north of the center. Cars will be verboten, relegated to an efficient, but totally out of the way parking and circulation system. Meanwhile the theatre replacing the Jackie Gleason Theater is planned to be super-adaptable and gardens are everywhere.

Koolhaas and his firm the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (whose P.R. peeps have promised to send more renderings) have dropped the eclectic, collage-y look, and some of the more random features, from their earlier plan. No longer is there a jogging track and farmer's market on the Convention Center's roof. No longer does it look like something plopped by Mies Van Der Rohe on to Mars with an exploding Disney World inside.

Instead Koolhaas goes for sort of an aww inspiring futurist aesthetic, but set within an expansion of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden into a park designed by Raymond Jungles and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates that are so green and lush and wonderfully jungly that catching a rare tropical disease on the way to your car seems like a distinct possibility. The hotel and convention hall entrances have been shifted to the south, with a very big new concourse and soaring hotel atrium. Meanwhile, 17th street meanders and curves with wide medians and very large pedestrian crosswalks, and the 17th Street Garage is sliced and diced up with retail, more parking, residential, and a roof garden. In this plan, cars are kinda verboten too. But hey, by the time either of these designs are actually built, hopefully we'll all be taking trains everywhere, right? No? At least we can dream.
· Miami Beach Convention Center coverage [Curbed Miami]

Miami Beach Convention Center

1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33139