When your reality is the buzzy mayhem of Art Basel Miami Beach, your fantasy becomes a moment of peace. This morning, I literally ran past this plaza on busy Biscayne Boulevard. Now, hours later, soles sore and mind brimming, I imagine returning for a nighttime respite.
The plaza tells a quintessentially Miami story: In 1963, the Bacardis commissioned Enrique Gutiérrez to design their USA headquarters after relocating their rum operations from Cuba. A collaborator of Mies van der Rohe, Gutiérrez imagined a modernist tower infused with Latin elements, expressed in buoyant murals by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand (tile count: 28,000). Later, the family hired Ignacio Carrera-Justiz to create an annex, dubbed the Jewel Box after its shimmering glass mosaics based on German artist Johannes Dietz’s rum-inspired painting.
The latest page of this storied site is its recent purchase by the National YoungArts Foundation, an organization dedicated to nurturing young artists of all disciplines through scholarships. YoungArts has hired Frank Gehry to transform the plaza into its Miami campus anchored by the landmarked tower and annex, augmented by a new performing arts center of Gehry’s design.
A tale of two buildings; a tale befitting this creative cocktail of a city and this stylistic cocktail of a dress (scaled for girls à la YoungArts).