Another day with Design Watch Members in Miami….

First stop: 1111 Lincoln Road with architect Nils Sanderson from Swiss architects’ Herzog & de Mueron’s office. Nils started the tour in front of this just completed parking garage (but this is no ordinary parking garage) that anchors the western end of the pedestrian Lincoln Road. Starting with a Dan Graham sculpture in front titled Morris (an ode to Morris Lapidus) and a general survey of the landscaping in front, courtesy of Raymond Jungles (who has worked with famed Brazilian artist/designer, Roberto Burle Marx), the group climbed the stairs to the 2nd floor where it was all about the details. Some of the most notable: centrally located stairs are easy to find and beautifully twist and turn as they ascend, sprinkler systems cast into the concrete so they barely protrude from the ceiling, high grade stainless steel fencing under the balustrade on the stairs as well as around the perimeter of the building to make the entire building open to the elements. And the views are amazing – almost 360 degrees of beach, bay, and boulevards. On the way to top floor, which can be closed off for a party space, the group gathered around some exposed re-bar – or so it seemed – until Nils explained that it was an art installation by Monika Sosnowska. She was commissioned by the architects to produce a permanent installation for that particular space (underneath the stair) due to a building requirement that would have required some kind of protective fencing. Her piece beautifully integrates elements of architecture that seem to either sprout from the concrete or were a marvelous oversight by the builders. Re-bar has never looked so good! And on the top of the garage – a penthouse with 20,000 sf of outdoor space, including swimming pool. Maybe a visit for 2011 Design Miami?




Second stop: Alchemist, an exclusive boutique on the 5th floor of the garage designed by Miami architect, Rene Gonzalez. He was there to explain the inspiration and process of this destination shop which carries two of Cooper-Hewitt’s previous NDA winners: Rodarte and Rick Owens. Wanting to reflect the skies of Miami, transparent glass and mirrors are the primary materials that accomplish this. Even the ceiling tiles are mirrored and mechanically move in wave-like rhythms as people walk underneath. From the outside, Rene referred to it as a billboard for the garage – supposedly you can see the glass façade of the store from the Venetian causeway.



Third stop: New World Symphony by Frank Gehry. Not scheduled to open until January, the group was able to get a preview of this concert hall/performance space/teaching facility. Howard Herring, president of the NWS gave us a top to bottom tour of this atypical Gehry building. The “front porch” or garden plaza that leads up to the entrance, is designed by West 8 architects, who will be doing the master plan for Governor’s Island. The entrance to the building itself lacks the grandeur of most concert halls, but this was the point for the New World Symphony – they wanted it to be welcoming, not stuffy, in order to attract a public that doesn’t normally attend classical music concerts. Visitors can get a sneak peek of rehearsal rooms right at the entrance without paying a penny. But Gehry details abound, both inside and outside: organic volumes work together to form a “flower” inside which houses rehearsal spaces and offices. The main hall itself, which seats 700 people, is as multipurpose and flexible as any hall I have ever seen. Accommodating every type of concert scenario – quartet, ensemble, DJ mix, and live video screening, it seems to be the future of how we will experience music. A definite must see and hear!


About the Author: Matilda McQuaid is deputy curatorial director and head of the Textiles department at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

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New World Symphony is one of the best building Designed by Architect Frank Gehry

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