The project included restoration and adaptive use of an historic building. Because of the prominence of its site, the mandate was also the restoration of its public character. Unusual for a Miami building, the grand stair facing the street was exploited as a forecourt. The Center operates concurrently as an exhibition space, lecture venue, welcome center, continuing education center, conference center, community center for the design professions, design studio, archive and the offices of the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Evolution of the building’s principal ground floor space; this tracks the rise and decline, and recent revival, of downtown as a civic center.
The first view of the new Center from the building lobby. A glass wall is framed to repeat the vault structure of the entrance bay.
The vaulted front bays of the Center create a multi-use area that can be subdivided for an exhibition (as shown here) or opened for events.
The AIA Miami offices wrap the main lecture/symposia area, and are configured to connect or disconnect from that space using a system of pivoting walls. A sculptural stair constructed of steel plates is the focal point of the Center, connecting the ground floor space to secondary functions on the upper floor.
The steel stair connects the ground floor with additional gallery, lecture and studio spaces on the second floor. The stair seems to float in a new 2-story atrium.
Miami Center for Architecture & Design
Miami, Florida | 2014
The Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) initiated the development in 2011 of a center for architecture – a first for the city – and in 2012 secured a site in downtown Miami’s historic Post Office Building. The design by S+A, following a series of public workshops, explores the typology of the architecture center as a contemporary space, focusing on flexibility and the benefits of overlapping programming. The Center will operate concurrently as a welcome center, exhibition space, lecture hall, continuing education venue, design studio, conference center, archive, and the offices of AIA Miami. Exploiting the generous proportions of the building’s main floor, the design produces a single grand space, divisible for different uses. This primary space is connected by a steel stair to secondary functions on the upper floor. A sculptural stair becomes the focal point of the center, its steel plate construction contrasting with the concrete frame of the old Post Office. The openness of the plan is nuanced by historical elements like vaulted brick ceilings and a wall of arched doors that open to the building’s front plaza. The offices wrap the main multifunction area, and are configured to connect or disconnect from that space using a system of pivoting walls. The Center recuperates vital civic space, contributing to the reactivation of Miami’s urban core.
2014 AIA Florida Award of Excellence
2014 Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award
2014 Dade Heritage Trust Award
All photos by Robin Hill.
S+A role: Design Architect; Architect of Record: Forbes Architects
© 2017 Shulman + Associates