Who Should Win the OMA vs. BIG Miami Showdown?


The Miami Beach Convention Center, a giant box of a building constructed in 1957, is in desperate need of a makeover and two design teams have bravely accepted the challenge. Team 1 is dubbed South Beach ACE (Arts, Culture, Entertainment District) and is a collaboration between Rem Koolhaas‘s OMA firm, Tishman, UIA, MVVA, Raymond Jungles and TVS. Team 2 goes by the name of Miami Beach Square and includes BIG, West 8, Fentress, JPA and Portman CMC. Both proposals completely re-imagine 52 acres of prime beach real estate and cost over a billion dollars in public and private funds. So, who does it better? 

Vote for your favorite after the break…


OMA-led South Beach ACE’s proposal focuses on bringing to life one of Miami Beach’s most underutilized public sites with a fully-revamped convention center capable of luring major events from around the world with an iconic hotel, inviting green spaces, low-density retail uses and cultural venues. It will also include increased site connectivity, preservation of key historical elements, more open space and recreation facilities.


ACE believes that their design would bring a “sense of engagement” and “vibrancy that complements the rest of Miami Beach” while still using a “light touch” that keeps the project proportional to its surroundings. A point of interest in ACE’s project is a civic and cultural band running along the southern end of the property that will comprise a modernized Jackie Gleason Theater, a new cultural venue, the existing Miami Beach City Hall, and active landscaped areas. Outside the convention center will be a network of shaded, undulating green spaces that will create a continuous but varied park-like environment capable of hosting community events throughout the year (more images, information and video here).


BIG-led Miami Beach Square’s proposal hopes to “bring Miami Beach back to the Convention Center” by transforming the “dead black hole of asphalt in the heart of one of the most beautiful and lively cities in America” into an archipelago of urban oases made up of paths, plazas, parks and gardens which will all lead to the heart of the plan: the Miami Beach Square. Replacing the mono-programmatic character of the current Convention Center, this proposal would focus on an “experience of continuous variation,” creating a sense of connection and continuity between the Square and the existing surroundings while keeping the program concentrated in the center of the site. 


Miami Beach Square would become the front door to the convention center and the convention hotel, as well as the front lawn to a revitalized Jackie Gleason Theatre, a town square for the city hall, an outdoor arena for the Latin American Cultural Museum, and the red carpet for the big botanical ball room. Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of the design, however, is the treatment of the convention center’s roof, which would function as a “giant ever changing canvas” that challenges contemporary artists with an architectural scale that is visible from adjacent rooftops, airplanes and Google Earth (more images, information and video here).

Who do you think should win? Leave your comments below and vote here on the Huffington Post!

Both proposals are on display until June 21st at City Hall. The City of Miami Beach will choose the winner next month.

References: Archdaily (1, 2), Huffington Post

Cite: Porada, Barbara. "Who Should Win the OMA vs. BIG Miami Showdown?" 31 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=379542>
  • Joe


    quick question … this generally is a design of a convention center and a proposal for the planning of the site and the ancillary structures of the “park”. so the other building we see in these schemes are placeholders yet to be awarded / designed ?

  • Shane M

    I prefer OMA’s design. It takes away the monotony of the square edges and square/rectangular shapes. The new concept to me reveals the wave action of the nearby beach with it’s circular shape.

  • Laszlo Kovacs

    who can tell? there’s not one section displayed here. i have no idea what the inside of these projects look like. and from the vague photos that have been displayed i would say they’re both boring.

    • Pierre

      Yes, but OMA’s video is 9 minutes long Vs Big’s 2 minuntes!!!
      I mean, c’mon…

  • JP McDariis

    Both are equally awful! What on earth are you people thinking posting this rubbish.

  • Scott Warner

    Both of these proposals are rather awkward, clunky, and obstructive. Usually OMA comes up with fantastic refined solutions for large projects, but they seem to be falling very short here (not to mention BIG’s design is no better). In short, both firms need to throw these out and start over.

  • maria

    I really do not see what the big deal about BIG is? Their architecture is deceitful claiming environemntal concerns

  • Dave

    These two diva offices really don’t deserve the web space. Overhyped, overrated, under-talented.

  • Steven

    Notorious B.I.G. What a joke.

  • JP McDaris

    I was reading the posts and saw there is another JP McDaris out there? But with 2 i’s? Weird……

  • archi

    Wake me up when they do architecture that improves people’s connection to their place, rather than improves the architect with their ego.

  • Jonnel Mamauag

    OMA has a more sophisticated approach to the whole thing, something that has more sustainable implications to Miami beach. BIG on the other hand went for the “glitz and glam” of it all.

    I’m a fan of BIG but OMA takes the cake on this one with the intellectual approach, exceeding prior convictions of what a convention centre is.

  • Sam

    After first watching the videos, I thought OMA had done a better job. But really, I think they just did a better job of explaining their process. I personally prefer BIG’s design, I think they do a much better job of creating urban plazas and space. OMA also is just putting together a haphazard team of architects that look great together on paper, but probably wont work well together. They are doing things much more traditionally – and creating a giant garden which will largely be useless instead of great plazas.

  • Rizky Muzakir


  • James MD

    BIG should win. Miami is young and playful at heart. BIG is basically OMA’s grandchild.


    To be honest, the time I watch both videos thought OMA’s design was supposed to be BIG’s concept and BIG’s was OMA’s…Weird….

  • Baebara

    Definately OMA