Bacardi Complex / Frank Gehry

Photo by Marc Averette

Frank Gehry continues to amaze us – we recently shared the octagenarian’s vision for Zuckerberg’s expanding Facebook campus, and now the architect will tackle a master plan for ’s iconic and annex.   Designed by Enrique Gutierrez, a collaborator of Mies van der Rohe, with amazing tile work by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand, the Latin-infused modernist tower served as the Bacardi headquarters for nearly 50 years.  Just this morning, the National YoungArts Foundation announced that it is the proud new owner of the main 8-story tower, and the “Jewel-box” 1975 annex, designed by  Igancio Carrera-Justiz, with glass mosaic walls based on designs by German artist Johannes Dietz.    The organization acquired the property for a steal – the Miami Herald estimates the buildings’ $10 million price tag weighs in at less than half of its market value – and is excited to make a permanent home to expand their activities.

Gehry work will not involve either of the buildings’ exteriors, which will be completely preserved, but rather, the project will include transforming the site’s parking lot into a park that will connect with a Gehry-designed performance hall just north of the existing buildings.

More after the break. 

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These buildings represented our home — they helped keep us unified coming out of Cuba,” explained Facundo L. Bacardi, the company’s chairman and a fifth-generation family member. “So we wanted to make sure they ended up with someone who could extend that legacy of community.”

Founded in 1981, the YoungArts is devoted to developing talent in young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts through mentoring, master classes and access to scholarships. Although actively involved in the city, the organization lacked a permanent central location.  “It’s going to turn into an arts campus,” said Michael M. Kaiser, the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, who has served as a consultant to YoungArts over the last year. “This is going to accelerate the artistic activity in the city.”

Lin Arison, Paul T. Lehr, Executive Director of YoungArts added, “As much as our remarkable young artists need space to work, to learn and to present their achievements, they also need surroundings that inspire them. This campus is a place that can make their spirits soar and their ambitions a reality.”

Photo via Midtown Miami Now
 The plan calls for the tower to house an art gallery, with artist-in-residence spaces plus administration  while the annex will contain studio and classroom spaces, such as recording and visual arts studios.

“It’s not going to be a building that’s architecturally published in any way,” Mr. Gehry told the NYT. “But it’s a place I want to go.”

We will keep you updated on the progress of the master plan and can’t wait to see new life infused into this remarkable urban complex.


Video via ArchRecord


Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Bacardi Complex / Frank Gehry" 04 Oct 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>