Institute of Contemporary Art Miami Gets Green Light to Bulldoze Homes in Historic District

Local residents are worried about Miami's newest museum.

Aranguren & Gallegos's preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District. Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.
Aranguren & Gallegos's preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District. Photo Aranguren & Gallegos.
Aranguren & Gallegos's preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District. Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.

Aranguren & Gallegos’s preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District.
Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.

As the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami (ICA Miami) prepares to break ground on its new flagship building in the Design District, the city has granted the museum permission to tear down three homes to create a sculpture garden.

“ICA Miami is an important cultural resource in Miami, providing the public with a free and open forum to engage with the art of our time,” ICA Miami deputy director and chief curator, Alex Gartenfeld, told artnet News via email.

The plan has been contentious among homeowners of the Buena Vista East Historic Neighborhood Association, and was initially shot down by the preservation board. In a second vote, however, a deciding board member granted his approval, provided the museum not use the sculpture park gate to bring in oversize artworks.

While the planned construction site is part of the historic district, the three homes are considered “non-contributing structures” according to statements made by Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board during the proceedings.

The museum design, which calls for a 37,500-square-foot facility with a surrounding garden, is the first US project by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos.

Aranguren & Gallegos's preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District. Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.

Aranguren & Gallegos’s preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District.
Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.

ICA Miami was founded this past year, after a protracted legal battle at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami between the city and museum leadership forced the MOCA board to decamp to the Design District. After months of mediation, the two sides reached an agreement which divided the 600-work permanent collection between the two institutions, and let MOCA retain the rights to its name and $1 million in grant funding (see The Battle Over MOCA North Miami Has Ended).

The new Design District museum made its debut in the Moore Building during December’s Art Basel in Miami Beach, impressing with solo exhibitions from Pedro Reyes and Andra Ursuta (see ICA Miami a Strong Addition to Thriving Miami Art Scene), and announcing plans to construct a new building in the neighborhood (see The ICA Miami Will Build a New Home).

The future museum site includes two empty commercial lots and one private home donated to the institution by Miami Design District Associates, a partnership between developer Craig Robins’s Dacra and L Real Estate (a private equity fund sponsored by the LVMH group), as well as two residential properties purchased by the museum for $1.6 million thanks to Irma Braman, the co-chair of the museum’s board, and her husband, Norman Braman, who are funding the construction project.

Aranguren & Gallegos's preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District. Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.

Aranguren & Gallegos’s preliminary rendering of the new ICA Miami in the Design District.
Photo: Aranguren & Gallegos.

The Buena Vista East president, Jerome Schiller, was eventually won over by the ICA, telling preservation board, “We went from totally not supporting the project to being for it. We understand it is going to be a civic institute.”

Not everyone is convinced, however. “We think this threatens the integrity of the historic district,” Buena Vista homeowner Wendy Stephan told the Real Deal.

Others had more practical concerns. “I feel like my privacy is being taken away from me,” a local resident said. “I know they are going to be having parties and the noise is going to be crazy.”

With the approval of the local preservation board in hand, the museum’s next step is getting the green light to rezone the residential lots from the city’s Planning and Zoning Appeals Board, which last month opted to delay its decision until the preservation board weighed in.

 


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