In Miami Beach, the Faena Forum Is to Open in December

MIAMI — In the last few years, the Miami arts landscape has both rapidly expanded and been roiled with upheavals as the region tries to shore up a permanent cultural beachhead in a place better known until recently for an annual art fair and an actual beach. The next entry onto the scene, the Faena Forum, will be unusual in its format, design and leadership, and it won’t resemble anything else nearby when it is completed in December in a formerly sleepy section of Miami Beach.

Not a museum per se, the Faena Forum will sometimes display art. But its goal is to be a new kind of multidisciplinary center in a flexible building that can house dance, theater, political debates, lectures and a wide range of other cultural happenings, said its founder, the Argentine hotelier and real estate developer Alan Faena. Mr. Faena is best known for rehabilitating a district in his hometown, Buenos Aires, in a way that combined culture and capitalism. Similarly, the Faena district in Miami Beach will integrate the arts into a larger development, which includes a hotel and a condominium building.

 PRIDE OF PLACE The Faena Forum in Miami Beach, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is to be completed in December. It will host lectures, debates, theater, art exhibitions and other events. Credit Rendering by Faena/Oma

PRIDE OF PLACE The Faena Forum in Miami Beach, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is to be completed in December. It will host lectures, debates, theater, art exhibitions and other events. Credit Rendering by Faena/Oma

“Miami will never be the same after the Forum,” said Mr. Faena, dressed, as usual, in a crisp white suit and a Panama hat, as he surveyed construction progress there this winter.

Not known for understatement or for a lack of ambition, Mr. Faena enlisted the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture to design the 50,000-square-foot center, at 33rd Street and Collins Avenue; the anticipated cost is $150 million.

Mr. Faena is developing the overall Faena district, which stretches over six blocks and is estimated to cost around $1 billion, with his longtime business partner, Len Blavatnik. The district’s beachside residential building was designed by the London firm Foster & Partners.

Mr. Faena said Argentine pride was part of his motivation for creating the district and giving it his name.

“Miami is the perfect interaction point between the North and South, but projects rarely move in the direction from South to North,” he said. “We’re representing a region, a voice and a way of living.” That includes an Argentine fire pit in the courtyard of the Faena Hotel Miami Beach.

 Alan Faena, the center’s founder, and Ximena Caminos, its executive director, who are currently based in Miami. Credit Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

Alan Faena, the center’s founder, and Ximena Caminos, its executive director, who are currently based in Miami. Credit Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

Passionate about details, Mr. Faena said he intended to be personally involved with the programming of the Faena Forum, especially in theater, one of his interests. And he keeps the leadership team small and close to home.

Ximena Caminos will serve as the Forum’s executive director, the same title she holds at the Faena Art Center in Buenos Aires. She is also Mr. Faena’s companion; they have a son and are currently based in Miami as they work furiously to complete the Forum and schedule its first year of programming.

Ms. Caminos worked as a curator at the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires before going to work for Mr. Faena in 2004 to develop the Faena Art Center, which is largely focused on visual art. Eventually they became a couple.

She said they had looked closely at what Miami already had, and what it lacked, when conceiving their latest venture.

“Miami doesn’t need one more museum,” Ms. Caminos said. “It needs something different. The Forum is designed to be flexible. I compare it to a sports car. If you want to turn the wheel, you can.”

To inaugurate the Forum in December, the curator Claire Tancons will stage a paradelike procession with local performers. Also scheduled for the first year are site-specific installations and performances of the contemporary ballet “Tree of Codes.” Ms. Caminos said she wanted to hold a program with a Cuban theme as part of the Forum’s regular debate series, too.

For the architects, the Forum’s small, wedge-shaped site presented challenges. “One big building would seem unbalanced there,” said Shohei Shigematsu, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture’s partner in charge of the project.

“But we knew they weren’t looking for a grandiose gesture,” he continued. “It was more like acupuncture” — urban acupuncture, or small-scale interventions — “and neighborhood development.”

The solution was to spread out the building’s mass, Mr. Shigematsu said. The Forum’s two main volumes resemble a cylinder and a cube. “They are connected inside, but they act independently,” he said. The cylinder is inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and features a dome topped by an oculus. (The firm also designed the district’s parking garage and retail building.)…

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About Zoran Opalic

Professional in design and publishing industry. Conceptualize and orchestrate designs and redesigns that effectively reinforce and build brand images. Proven ability to drive record-high campaign in increasing publication sales and execute successful product launches...


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