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Miami Beach Convention Center Design Selected
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Aerial view rendering for the new 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center master plan
Last month, the Miami Beach Commission selected South Beach ACE’s design for the new 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center master plan. The design reworks the interior of the existing structure, adds a 10-story hotel atop a corner of the building, and creates extensive green spaces around—and on top of—the structure. © OMA

Elements of the winning design include a new hotel placed atop the adapted existing structure, realigned traffic patterns, and a hilly, landscaped park concealing the loading docks and parking structure.

August 13, 2013—The design of the new 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center master plan created by South Beach ACE—a team led by New York City-based developer Tishman, Miami Beach-based UIA Management, and the New York City office of architecture firm OMA—has been selected by the Miami Beach Commission in a competition. The design modernizes the convention center, increasing its usefulness and efficiency by reworking traffic flow, both inside and outside the convention center, placing a new 10-story hotel atop a corner of the existing structure, and replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with extensive green spaces around—and on top of—the site.

Originally built in 1957, the convention center was expanded in 1968 and again in 1986. The South Beach ACE plan will build upon these previous expansions in ways that are expected to reenergize the convention center and make the site a hub of cultural and economic activity, according to the master plan submitted to the commission. The new design reconfigures the site so that it can draw local visitors from the beach, surrounding neighborhoods, and nearby retail destinations along Lincoln Road.

“Economics is a driving force behind the convention center master plan,” said Kathie Brooks, the assistant city manager for the City of Miami Beach. Brooks wrote in response to questions submitted by Civil Engineering online. “This project has a direct fiscal impact on our community as well as an overall impact on South Florida’s economy.” 

Exterior rendering of the convention center, which will have a 10-story hotel built atop the southwest corner

The 10-story hotel will be built atop the southwest corner of the
reconfigured convention center. In the area where the curved,
tapered hotel spans the new convention center entrance, the
scheme currently calls for a deep truss to be integrated into the
facade to keep the structure efficient.
 © OMA 

The existing convention center is a large box that can be divided into four internal quadrants containing a total of 629,000 sq ft of meeting and exhibition space. Access points for visitors are located on both its east and west sides, while loading occurs to the north and south. “What is dysfunctional in the current convention center is that many of its elements are inefficiently duplicated and separated,” says Shohei Shigematsu, the director of OMA’s New York office and the lead designer of OMA’s proposal for the Miami Beach Convention Center.

To eliminate the redundancies, the design team proposed consolidating and moving loading and parking to the north and pedestrian entry points to the south. A 259,000 sq ft new hall with upper-level ballrooms and meeting spaces will be built along the western side. Rather than include two entrances that each access the four exhibition spaces along their sides, the new northern loading point will provide access to three of the exhibition spaces at their ends; a smaller, fourth hall can be accessed along one of its sides via an internal corridor. A new 75,000 sq ft concourse with 35 ft clear-height ceilings will be built along the southern side of the center, welcoming pedestrians and offering a fifth exhibition space or temporary meeting spaces should either be desired. Despite the expanded spaces and square footage under the new design, the building footprint will actually shrink by 15 percent thanks to the consolidation, according to the master plan.

“We oriented the new concourse and main entry to the south to give the building a clear face toward the most civic and commercial side of Miami Beach,” Shigematsu says. A widened promenade alongside the eastern side of the center will also work to draw visitors from surrounding areas.

Exterior rendering of the new convention center, which displays its pedestrian access and loading zones into two dedicated areas

The design consolidates the convention center’s pedestrian
access and loading zones into two dedicated areas. Loading will
occur to the north and pedestrian access will be located to the
south. Alongside the western side, a new 259,000 sq ft hall with
upper-level ballrooms and meeting spaces will be added. © OMA

A 633,730 sq ft, 10-story hotel and ballroom will be built atop the southwest corner of the reconfigured convention center. With a curved shape, tapered edges, pools, patios, and green roof space, the hotel’s placement and design will appear as a seemingly natural outgrowth of the convention center, rather than as a boxy, neighborhood eyesore.

Public space is integral to the new design, and a 28.6-acre, parklike buffer zone is planned to surround the entirety of the convention center. The 16.17 acres of surface parking, loading areas, and roads that currently surround the center will be shrunk to 3.2 acres, according to the master plan.

A large portion of public space will be created atop a five-story, 1,000-car capacity, sloping parking structure that is located above the at-grade truck loading docks to the north of the center.  

In a decision that goes one step further than a typical green roof, the design team decided to cover the loading dock and parking structure with filter fabric, fill, subsoil, soil, and plantings and trees to create a hilly topography that rises as high as 80 ft and that can be used by visitors and local residents as a recreational park. “We rejected the idea that public space had to be sacrificed in the name of infrastructure,” Shigematsu says, “This solution shifts one of the current convention center’s weakest dead-zones into one of its strongest urban features.”

Interior rendering of the new convention center, which features its 35ft clear-height ceilings

The design calls for a new 75,000 sq ft concourse with 35 ft
clear-height ceilings to be built along the southern edge of the
center, welcoming pedestrians and offering additional exhibition
space or temporary meeting spaces should either be desired.
© OMA

The planned parkland, which will feature bay views, will help tie together the public spaces already located in the area, such as the Jackie Gleason Theater and the nearby botanical gardens and Collins canal,

The New York City office of the global engineering firm Arup conducted a preliminary analysis of the loads that the architects were proposing to add to the existing convention center to establish whether or not it could handle the new loads with certain structural modifications. “Reusing the existing structure is certainly feasible, however it is not without its challenges,” said Matt Jackson, P.E., an associate principal with the New York City office of Arup. Jackson wrote in response to questions posed by Civil Engineering online.

Minimal modifications will be necessary, according to Jackson. “Reusing the structure will generally involve reinforcing columns and foundations,” he said. “However where the new program allows, a new column and foundation would be inserted to align with new partitions inside the existing structure.” In the area where the hotel spans the convention center entrance, the scheme currently calls for a deep truss to be integrated into the facade to keep the structure efficient, according to Jackson.

The design is being voted on in a public referendum in November, according to Shigematsu, at which point the design team will begin work on refining the design.

The project is estimated to cost $1.1 billion, as reported in The Real Deal, a south Florida real estate news source that reported from the commission meeting where the decision was made.


 

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