A group of journalists, art experts and VIP’s in town for Art Basel Miami Beach donned hard hats and safety vests Thursday for what was billed as a “Sneak Peek” of Faena Forum, which is currently under construction.
Their guides included In Argentinian hotelier Alan Faena, Ximena Caminos and Shohei Shigematsu, the partner-in-charge for Rem Koolhaas/Oma, which is designing the 50,000 square-foot building that will serve as the centerpiece of the Faena District, which has been taking shape on Collins Avenue.
“I intend for this building to make a difference. In its design, I want to elevate everyone who comes for the performances as well as the community,” said Argentine hotelier Alan Faena, who is developing the district.
“We believe this will be one of the most beautiful and spectacular buildings in Miami and that having it on the beach will make a big difference, “agreed Caminos, Faena’s wife, and the head of Faena Art, the non-profit organization that is in charge of the district’s arts and cultural programming.
The Faena District is intended to transform the rather neglected area that runs between 32nd and 35th streets into a high-end complex that includes Faena House, which is a luxury condominium project, along with a just-opened hotel, shops and eateries.
The forum, slated to open next fall, will offer a menu of diverse cultural programming, which includes the visual and performing arts, as well as programs focusing on science, technology, politics and urbanism as well.
In a presentation prior to the tour, Shigematsu talked the challenge of designing a neighborhood that would bring together the two sides of the blocks, one that is residential and borders on Indian Creek, and the other side, which is lined with historic hotels along the ocean.
“With the site being so complex our strategy was to create a neighborhood and, within it, multiple buildings to serve it, with the idea that perhaps at one time the whole complex had been on one continent but had somehow gotten separated,” said Shigematsu.
Designing the Forum was a challenge as well because of the need for different spaces to house a number of varied performances, some that might be going on at once, Shigematsu noted.
The structure will be in the form of a cylinder and cube, which would feature a second floor amphitheater lobby, and an open soaring space rising 40 feet to a dome. There will also be green rooms, a more intimate black box theater and, on the third level, an assembly hall that can be combined or subdivided to accommodate a range of installations and performances, he said.
“There is also going to be a large window, and light so that the architecture can make use of its surroundings,” Shigematsu said, adding, “I think there’s something very interesting about such a great cultural machine being so close to the beach. I have never seen anything like that.”
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