Miami accepts more modest plan to renovate its convention center

The $500 million project is scaled down considerably from previous proposals.

October 28, 2014 |
A white wavy faade would distinguish a renovated Miami Convention Center. The c

The city of Miami has awarded an $11 million contract for its on-again, off-again convention center renovation to Denver-based Fentress Architects, which will serve as the design criteria professional on this project.

City Commissioners voted unanimously (with one commissioner absent) in favor of Fentress over seven other contenders, according to the Miami Herald. The design plans that Fentress draws up will serve as the basis for the city’s weighing bids from design-build firms to complete this project. 

The renovation has been controversial. A larger plan that would have spanned 52 acres across South Beach and cost $1 billion got scrapped after the election of a new mayor and three new commissioners. The designs for that larger plan got nixed only six months after the city had awarded developer South Beach ACE and the architectural firm OMA.  

Fentress is working with New York-based architecture, design, and planning firm Arquitectonica and the urban-design and landscape architect West 8 on a scaled-down masterplan whose price tag is estimated at $500 million. The renovation will include the convention center’s 500,000-sf exhibition hall, its 200,000-sf of existing meeting spaces, and a new 70,000-sf ballroom and outdoor event area. The facility’s existing parking lot will be converted into a 6.5-acre public park.

The Herald reports that the park will include a memorial to Miami Beach’s military vets, and a small café. A 1.8-acre park along the north side of the convention center will have more than 1,000 feet of renovated space.

City Manager Jimmy Morales is quoted as stating that his office staff expects to present recommendations for design-build firms to the City Commission by Nov. 19. If there are no hitches, the renovation should begin by December 2015, the convention center should be completed by 2017, and the park by the following year.

 

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