Tuesday was D-Day of the Convention Center wars, with Rem Koolhaas and the South Beach-ACE gang, and Bjarke Ingels & Portman-CMC each making their final presentations for the Convention Center redevelopment job. In the end, there were surprising similarities between both plans, and some key differences. Rem continued to articulate his plan, while Bjarke's evolved. So, what's new? Well, here goes:
First to the plate is South Beach-ACE, with architect Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, developers Tishman and Robert Wennett, and landscape designers Raymond Jungles and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Highlights of South Beach-ACE's plan include:
1) A reoriented convention center, with all concourses to the south, and loading/unloading/service to the north.
2) A vertical convention center, with an elevated ballroom, 800 room hotel, and hotel meeting spaces on top of the main convention center halls, high enough to capture views of the city and the ocean. Rooftop space will either be allocated to hotel amenities or a green roof.
3) The loading, parking, and utility areas to the north buried by a giant man made hill that goes all the way to the convention center's roof with rolling meadows and jungly slopes, capturing the views.
4) A massive expansion to the botanical gardens, bringing them south and through the site, removing their isolation from the city, and creating a 'Central Park'-like effect.
5) The reorienting and vertical-stacking of the convention center will open up more corridors for ocean breezes, and the lanscaping plan will focus on providing maximum shade.
6) A completely openable wall between the westernmost convention center hall and the botanical garden/parkland outside.
7) A plaza to the south of the convention center, linking together city hall, the preserved Jackie Gleason Theater, the new 'mystery' cultural building, and retail and residential to the west. The Gleason will be given an exterior auditorium, thus making the stage two-sided. The plaza extends all the way to 17th Street.
8) A curving 17th Street with wide medians will mitigate traffic and make pedestrian crossings much more comfortable.
9) The old 17th Street garage will be preserved, with new ground level retail, multiple floors of residential on top, and a large amenity deck.
On the flip side, here's what's cooking with Portman-CMC, including architect Bjarke Ingels and Bjarke Ingels Group, architect John Portman, developers Portman Holdings and CMC Group, and landscape designers West 8:
1) The central square is the focus of the plan, around which radiate the now preserved Jackie Gleason Theater, a Latin American Cultural Museum, Miami Beach City Hall, the freestanding ballroom building, and the hotel.
2) The Jackie Gleason Theater will somehow open up to west, perhaps by creating a large new practice room with a window wall. Cirque du Soleil will share stage time with live music acts.
3) The hotel is now attached to the convention center's southern end, rising above the massive structure but kept at a low height to blend in with the surrounding community. The perimeter of the building's roof will, however, have a continuous green loop, and the hotel will look out onto an 'art roof' over the building's central expanse. The 'green roof' idea will be used for other, smaller buildings, and as an aesthetic device, however, especially where dramatic lawns can be created.
4) There will be a rooftop viewing terrace for the 'art roof'.
5) To the west of the ballroom, low-rise residential buildings harmonize with low-rise residential across Meridian Avenue. And to the north, the ballroom will open out to the botanical gardens.
6) A completely new 17th Street garage will replace the old one and have fun stuff on top.
7) The exhibit halls seem to have some kind of permeable wall thing going on with the exterior, like the South Beach-ACE plan does, but that might not be the case.
8) Back of house spaces will be located (probably) on the convention center's eastern side, with parking on top, all hidden behind a layer of residential and retail. And, god save them, they are actually proposing that the parking garage extend to the roof, creating roof top parking.