Redefining Culture: Miami Beach’s New Faena Forum

View of the new OMA designed Faena Forum in Miami Beach
(All photos by Iwan Baan. Courtesy of OMA)

Heralded as the landmark in Miami Beach’s all-new Faena cultural District, the Faena Forum opened during Art Basel Miami Beach last week with a buzz; highlights included a charity gig by Madonna, and a collaborative performance by choreographer Pam Tanowitz, with dancers from the Miami City Ballet School, music by Dan Siegler, and scenography by the building’s architect himself, Shohei Shigematsu, Partner of OMA and the director of the Dutch firm’s New York office.  

The new Miami Beach District, backed by Argentine hotelier and property developer Alan Faena, was designed  as a “neighborhood integrating dynamic cultural, residential, hotel, retail, culinary and public environments.” Located on both sides of Collins Avenue from 32nd to 35th Streets, the premises, with direct waterfront views of the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Creek, host three buildings designed by OMA: the Faena Forum, the Faena Bazaar, scheduled to open in March 2017, and a Park already open to the public.

At  42,565 square feet, and with capacities for altogether 1,000 visitors, the  Faena Forum is the centerpiece of the new district, functionally as well as visually: the structure’s  pristine white concrete façade with 350 intricately fitted windows makes for a prolific eye catcher, while structurally incorporating a classic cylinder and a black box cube similar in size, which can be “combined or subdivided to support any type of production, from projects and commissions to performances, exhibitions and events.” The structure’s interior features a lobby amphitheater sporting Rosa Portugal pink marble floors (and a technical set-up for surround projections), as well as a 40-foot-high dome with a central glazed oculus and a floor-to-ceiling window that can also be used for loading large scale art. Nodding to  Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim in New York is the spiraling walkway that takes visitors from street level to the top of the dome.

“Faena Forum has been designed as a series of large flexible spaces that can accommodate a variety of events from a temporary culinary pop up to an acoustically optimal concert, with everything in between the realms of traditional art galleries to new and innovative cultural programs,” architect Shohei Shigematsu explained in a statement. “The Forum represents endless possibilities to host a range of events—from concerts to conventions; roundtable discussion to banquets; intimate exhibitions to art fairs—all within a single evening,”  Shigematsu continues. “Liberated from obligations to operate as a strictly institutional or a strictly commercial entity, the Forum presents a new typology for interaction, leveraging the ambiguous advantage of Faena’s redefinition of culture.”

For more impressions and a comprehensive photo tour of the new Faena Forum and Faena District in Miami Beach, click on the slideshow.