Miami Design: The Starchitect Revolution

By: Claire Bullen

July 10, 2014

For years, Miami design was synonymous with the colours – and kitsch – of its Art Deco architecture, which filled the city’s streets with rainbow hues and reflected its laidback beach-y appeal. These days, though, Miami is donning a new look – one that’s sleek, stylish, and all grown up.

In recent years, the city has become a centre for so-called “starchitects”. International firms famous for designing some of the world’s most recognisable museums, high-rises, concert halls, and other public buildings are now in the process of reinventing Miami’s skyline with soaring skyscrapers, twisting glass structures, and other sleek, modernist constructions that are imbuing Miami design with a new urbanity. If you’re an architecture lover or simply want to watch the city transform – almost in real time, such is the pace of growth – don’t miss these essential new Miami landmarks.

Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron – perhaps best known for transforming the Bankside Power Station into London’s wildly popular Tate Modern museum – can be credited with helping to kick off Miami’s latest building boom. Their 1111 Lincoln Road construction, begun during the Recession, is a striking and angular open parking garage that combines form with function – it also hosts pop-up events, with shops and restaurants offered at ground level.


Miami Design | Perez Art Museum Miami | Herzog & de Meuron

The newly opened Pérez Art Museum Miami is designed to be at home in Miami’s climate © 2014, Herzog & de Meuron Basel

Most recently, Herzog & de Meuron completed the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which opened to the public in December 2013; the new home for Miami’s groundbreaking contemporary art collection faces the water and is adapted for the climate. Elevated above the ground in case of storm surges, it also features a veranda and canopy-like covering, and even incorporates plants into its design. Following the successful launch, the firm is now at work on the 57-storey Jade Signature, a soaring beachfront residential tower in Sunny Isles.


Miami Design | New World Center | Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry’s New World Center is a beautiful and functional new space © Rui Dias Aidos

Another architect who’s recently impacted Miami’s skyline is the legendary Frank Gehry, whose New World Center building whittled down his famous metallic flourishes for a more sedate – but still eye-catching- structure. The headquarters for the New World Symphony feature a glassed-in atrium that opens to Atlantic Ocean views. Inside, acoustics are at the forefront, with a clean, plush interior structure that supports its performers and their sound. Gehry is now at work renovating the city’s famed Bacardi Complex to develop the new National YoungArts Foundation campus.


Miami Design | National YoungArts Foundation | Bacardi Complex | Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry will next be renovating the historic Bacardi Complex to develop the new National YoungArts Foundation campus © Bacardi Archive

The firm of Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect known for her curving, futuristic constructions, is also impacting Miami design. Currently in development is the Collins Park Garage, another cutting-edge parking garage that combines spiral walkways and a sweeping overhang with functional space.


Miami Design | 1000 Museum | Zaha Hadid

One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects will be Hadid’s first high-rise in the Western Hemisphere © Zaha Hadid

Hadid will also soon introduce her first high-rise in the Western Hemisphere to Miami. The One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects, an ultra-high end residential tower, will appear in Downtown Miami, just across from the redeveloping Museum Park. The park also happens to host the Pérez Art Museum as well as the soon-to-be-built Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (the latter designed by Grimshaw), making the area its own mini Mecca for starchitect design.


Miami Design | Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science | Grimshaw

The new home of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will complete the redeveloping Museum Park © Grimshaw

Miami’s rejuvenation doesn’t end with these three firms, though. Young Danish star Bjarke Ingels will soon leave a new impression on the city with twin high-rises at the Grove at Grand Bay, while a number of architects – among them Rem Koolhaas – have designs in the works for the Faena District.


It’s official, then: Miami’s facelift is happening so quickly that it’s hard to keep track. It’s all the more reason to keep visiting – the city is guaranteed to look different every time you arrive.


Feature Image: Herzog & de Meuron’s Jade Signature will be a startling new presence on the Miami skyline © 2014, Herzog & de Meuron Basel


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What’s your opinion of Miami’s changing skyline? Do you have a favourite amongst the new monuments of Miami design? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Written by Claire Bullen


Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen

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