Art Basel in Miami: business as usual?

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New art commissions are part of the renovation plan for the Miami Beach Convention Center

Look familiar? Miami Beach abandoned plans to build a 52-acre, $1bn complex designed by OMA, Rem Koolhaas’s firm

More than $5m is being set aside for art commissions in Miami Beach as part of the renovation of its convention centre, thanks to a city ordinance requiring that 1.5% of the construction costs, which the Miami Herald reports to be $500m, go towards the Art in Public Places (AIPP) fund.

The total contribution is expected to be between $5m and $7m, with works due to be placed either throughout the renovated building or on land around the Miami Beach Convention Center. Some pieces are expected to be commissioned for a new green space next to the main building.

“The remit and size, type or scale of the art is not yet determined, since the project is in the early conceptual stage. The selection process for the artists has yet to be determined by the AIPP selection committee,” says Dennis Leyva, the co-ordinator for the fund.

Impact on the fair

There is still some uncertainty about how Art Basel in Miami Beach will be affected by the rebuilding. The Miami Herald recently reported that Art Basel’s organisers rejected a proposal by the city to hold the fair in two halls, rather than the usual four, during the reconstruction, which is scheduled to begin in September 2015 and expected to last for around three years. But a spokeswoman for Art Basel says that it was never offered two halls.

“We have a strong relationship with the City of Miami Beach and the new mayor, Philip Levine,” says Marc Spiegler, the director of Art Basel. “They have given us every indication that the smooth operation of the show is of paramount importance to them and we will be consulted at every stage of the process.”

City to work with Art Basel

“The project will be a phased process and the city will co-ordinate with Art Basel during the planning of the construction phase, which includes keeping all four halls open for its show,” says Maria Hernandez, the capital projects adviser to the city manager. Asked whether construction would be put on hold during the fair to avoid noise, Hernandez says that the city’s contractors will “take measures not to disrupt the show at any time”.

The details remain unclear, but the plans, which were released online by the City last week, are finally back on track. In November, city commissioners decided to abandon the $1bn programme for a 52-acre site designed by the architecture firm OMA, which is led by Rem Koolhaas. Now, a less extensive redesign will be led by Fentress Architects, which was a runner-up in the original competition.

Designs on Design Miami

The forthcoming redevelopment programme for the Miami Beach Convention Center is likely to have an impact not only on Art Basel in Miami Beach itself, but also on the fair’s closest neighbour, Design Miami, and the city’s satellite fairs. A straw poll of exhibitors at Design Miami/Basel this week suggests that they are unaware of the venue’s proposed redevelopment plans, but the executive director of Design Miami, Rodman Primack, says that it will be business as usual next year. “Art Basel is the most powerful art fair in the world. It has established itself in Miami as the premier cultural event—and week—in the city because of the fair’s quality, not its size. Moreover, the long-term benefit that will be realised by an expanded convention centre is undeniable. Any temporary change in size or location will not affect Design Miami’s long-term success,” he says. P.Pi.

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