BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center

BIG has collaborated with West 8, Fentress, JPA and developers Portman CMC to challenge an OMA- and South Beach ACE-lead team in the 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center overhaul. With a mission to “bring Miami Beach back to the Convention Center,” BIG’s newly unveiled proposal aims to transform 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. This tropical centerpiece will 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.

“We have devised a strategy that combines urban planning and landscape design to create a neighborhood characterized by human scale, pedestrian connections, shaded spaces with public oriented programs lining the streets and squares. A neighborhood that, depending on the season, the weekday, or even the time of day can be perceived as a lively downtown neighborhood or an inviting public park.” Bjarke Ingels, Creative Director BIG

More images and the teams description after the break...

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 14 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

The square creates a series of intuitive connections across the site – a diagonal that connects the Soundscape to the Botanical Gardens and Holocaust Memorial. A north-south connection joins the Collins Canal to Lincoln Road and naturally channels the flow of convention visitors to the liveliness of Lincoln Road. A green network of public spaces that stitches together all of the adjacent neighborhoods – formerly separated by the convention center – into a complete and coherent community – for both visitors and residents. All public programs – old and new come together on the square. All great cities have a great square – this will be Miami Beach Square.

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 15 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

“Rather than scattering all the program across the 52 acre site we have decided to concentrate it around the center piece of our public realm - Miami Beach Square bringing focus to the renovated Jackie Gleason Theater, the entrance of the convention center and for the first time ever creating a worthy civic presence to Miami Beach City Hall.” Jamie Maslyn Larsen, West 8, Creator of Soundscape Park

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 20 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

By popular demand we have found a way to preserve and enhance the architecture and programming of the Jackie Gleason Theatre. By making it all public at the street level – opening up lobbies, restaurants and cafes on all sides – we make the Gleason a lively centerpiece in this new neighborhood. Towards the Square we propose to extend the fly tower with a performing arts center with various spaces for rehearsal and offering a visual connection to the public. Adjacent to the Jackie Gleason Theater sits the new Latin American Cultural Museum consisting of a base of public programs opening up on the square. The building form creates a covered shaded event space on the square blurring the transition between inside and outside. 

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 19 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

Today the Miami Beach City Hall is almost like a left over wedged between random neighbors surrounded by traffic. Our proposal places it rightly in the middle of the town square with amble space for public expression and at the heart of communal life. The Miami Beach City Hall and Botanical Ballroom book end the Square making it a natural extension of the civic activities of city hall. To the north the botanical ballroom opens up allowing for beautiful views of the botanical gardens and the memorial. The Ballroom has an entrance to the south and to the north allowing for seamless connectivity to the convention center – under the shade and shelter of the canopies.

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 16 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

Rather than being the hermetic mono programmatic box that the Miami Beach Convention Center is today – a single program at the size of an urban block- we propose to consider the Convention Center an actual urban block complete with different programs - grown together to form a continuous architecture. A gradual transition from public to private – and from cultural to civic – conference to residential turns a stroll around the block into an experience of continuous variation. Along the entire west adjacent to the various gardens and the new square - the main entrances to the convention Center and Conference Center occupies the ground. The hotel lobby spans the entire south elevation in continuation of the Convention Center lobby. The Hotel façade as pulled back forming a cascade of terraces for the south facing hotel rooms – decreasing the perceived height seen from the Gleason.

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 18 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

The Roof of the Convention Center is framed by a green roof drawing the outline of the urban block – framing the hotel gardens and the roof parking interspersed with shade giving landscapes. As a reoccurring annual event we propose to sponsor an art foundation that will deliver a roof art piece to cover the remaining roof surface turning it into a giant ever changing canvas seen from the air as well as the roof terrace of the hotel. An ever changing giant canvas that will annually challenge contemporary artists with an architectural scale canvas – seen from the roofs and penthouses of adjacent buildings, from airplanes and google earth.

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 11 of 23
Courtesy of BIG

“Realizing that a challenge that seemed to be driven by  two incompatible agendas was actually the opportunity – to create a convention center district that is not only for convention-goers but, more importantly, for residents.” Jack Portman, Portman Holdings and JPA

BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center  - Image 8 of 23
Courtesy of BIG
  • Architects

  • Creative Director

    Bjarke Ingels
  • Partners-in-Charge

    Thomas Christoffersen, Kai-Uwe Bergmann
  • Project Team

    Leon Rost (Project Leader), Romea Muryn, Blake Smith, Carolien Schippers, Doug Stechschulte, Chris Junkin, Choonghye Lee, Kenneth Amoah, Ivy Hume, David Dottelonde, Birk Daugaard, Christoffer Gotfredsen, Maya Shapova, Manon Gicquel, David Splitter
  • Development Team

    Portman Holdings, CMC, Bal Harbor Shops, Cirque du Soleil
  • Design / Planning Team

    BIG (master plan and architecture), West 8 (public realm), John Portman & Associates (hotel), Fentress (convention center), Revuelta Architects (local)
  • Consultant Team

    Schwebke Shishkin (Civil), Plummer Associates (Traffic) , HDC Associates (Estimating, Scheduling), CMC Group Construction, Greenberg Traurig (Legal), Desimone (Structural), Space Syntax (Pedestrian Accessibility), MIT/Carlo Ratti Associati (Technology), Lead Pencil Studio (Art Consultation)
  • PR / Marketing / Branding Team

    Garber & Goodman (Public Relations), Cinnamon Associates (Public Relations)
  • Feasibility Team

    Courtney Lord (Retail), BRC (Entertainment), Noell Consulting (Residential)
  • Financing Team

    Piper Jaffray, Brookfield, HFF
  • Production Team

    Squint Opera (Animation), MIR (Renderings), Kennedy Fabricators (Model)
  • Site Area

    52 acres
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of BIG
  • Photographs

  • Public Relations / Marketing / Branding Team

    Garber & Goodman (Public Relations), Cinnamon Associates (Public Relations)

Project gallery

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About this office
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "BIG Unveils Design for Miami Beach Convention Center " 14 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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