Circles and squares: Faena Arts Center

Silver Award: The Faena Arts Center’s forum is divided into two volumes, one a cylinder, the other a cube.

June 12, 2017 |

The car park has a precast concrete façade with angled perforations for ventilation and to obscure views of the cars parked inside. Photo courtesy Bruce Damonte.

Is it a cylinder or a cube? When speaking about the Faena Forum, the most prominent building of the Faena Arts Center site, the answer to that question changes depending on what angle one views the building from. 

The 43,000-sf forum is divided into two volumes: the cylinder houses performance and gathering spaces; the cube accommodates flexible meeting areas. On the third floor, an Assembly Hall occupies both the cube and the cylinder and links the two spaces.

Melding a cylinder and a cube into one aesthetically pleasing design wasn’t the most difficult aspect of the Faena Arts Center project. That honor was reserved for the construction of the 22-foot-deep underground parking garage that sits just a hop, skip, and jump from the ocean and three feet above the groundwater table.

To build the underground parking garage, the project team received permission to temporarily vacate a public street so that it could perform the excavation and then return an elevated street to the city. A combination of steel sheet piles and an unreinforced concrete tremie slab were used to create a “bathtub” that allowed the contractor to work in the dry. A 16-inch-thick hydrostatic slab and basement walls were then cast directly against the steel sheet piles and concrete tremie.

The final element of the center, the Bazaar, took the historic Atlantic Beach Hotel and preserved and restored the existing lobby and façades, while reprogramming the building for retail.


Faena Forum’s cylinder and square motif (top) define the building’s functions.  Photo courtesy Bruce Damonte.


Building Team – Submitting firm, Structural engineer DeSimone Consulting Engineers Architect OMA, Revuelta Architecture International Contractor Layton Construction 

General Information – Size 288,000 sf Cost $150 million Construction time 2014 to 2016


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