Miami Beach Convention Center recently underwent a $620 million renovation, which transformed it into one of the most technologically advanced meeting facilities in the U.S. It now comprises more than 1.4 million square feet on a 12-acre site. Swooping curves, glistening white columns and subdued lighting throughout the facility draw inspiration from Miami’s famed Art Deco District. Interior finishes emulate receding water, sea foam and local coral reef patterns. Together with high-efficiency replacements of nearly all mechanical and electrical systems, these architectural and interior design motifs make the 60-year-old center—built in 1957 and last updated in 1989—feel new once again.
Given the center’s location in South Beach—just two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean—the design team led by Fentress Architects in association with Arquitectonica sought to modernize and elevate the center’s unique and contextually appropriate aesthetic while also meeting stringent guidelines to address sustainability and resiliency. Those guidelines include FEMA’s Guidelines for Coastal Building, the Resilience Strategy of Miami Beach’s Rising Above Commitment and U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. An integral part of this project included raising the street-level floor elevations and critical building systems above future FEMA flood elevation.
Among the numerous design solutions that work in conjunction with one another to meet the demands of this project are two highly visible elements: the façade and the landscape. The façade’s fluid rhythm comes from more than 507 uniquely shaped aluminum fins of up to 32 feet in height, which represent the local environment: rolling ocean waves and the undulatory motion of stingrays.
The fins also respond to the solar orientation on each façade. They filter dappled light throughout the lobbies and pre-function spaces to provide a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor environments. They also reduce energy consumption—approximately 15-percent overall—by preventing excessive solar heat gain.
The fins are supported by an exterior rail structure and the entire sub-structure is made from
HSS tube steel. Hurricane- and corrosion-resistant connections and projectile-resistant laminated glass establish a strong and stable building envelope. By using a high-performance glazing with a low-emissivity coating, the glass minimizes the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light without compromising the amount of visible light that is transmitted.
The design team conceived a customized parametric software to automate the design and development of the unique shapes for the aluminum fins, which would have traditionally been detailed by hand and laboriously redrawn with each design modification. The software seamlessly interfaced with and provided accurate, real-time updates with every design and documentation model employed, including Rhino, Grasshopper, Revit and Inventor. The software also facilitated the fabrication process by enabling coordinates to be directly imported into the manufacturer’s modeling software.
Altogether, 12 acres of green space were added to the center’s 25-acre campus, which is now 245 percent more pervious. More than 100 trees were preserved and over 1,300 new trees were planted.
Six acres of green space were achieved through the transformation of surface parking lots that were an urban heat island into a vibrant public park. The park is comprised of a tropical garden, game lawn, shaded areas and veterans’ plaza. Additionally, the park is home to Bent Pool, a public art installation by international artists Elmgreen & Dragset that celebrates Miami Beach’s dynamic culture and natural environment. Parking, comparable to what was provided in surface lots, is now available on the building’s roof, which is also designed to accommodate solar capacity in the future.
The restoration of Mangrove habitats and native vegetation along Collins Canal Park help address sea-level rise, which is a critical concern for the city of Miami Beach.
Also to address sea-level rise, the elevation of the first floor was raised to 1-foot above FEMA flood elevation b. Likewise, critical building systems—emergency generators, communication systems, electrical switchgear, electrical panels and emergency responder radio enforcement systems—have been elevated to the second floor at 23.1 feet (NAVD 88) to enable the building to remain operational during hurricane recovery efforts.
While the maximum stage for site drainage retention has been raised to a 25-year storm event, water pollution from stormwater runoff has been significantly reduced by increasing onsite filtration by removing contaminants from the stormwater runoff prior to outfall to Collins Canal. Two vortex treatment stormwater pump stations are onsite, designed to capture and treat 100 percent of the average annual site rainfall and further reduce water pollution by removing 80 percent of the total suspended solids that enter the pumps.
The expanded and renovated Miami Beach Convention Center is proving to be an exceptionally vibrant, innovative, and successful facility that is enhancing the experience of users and constituents alike. The renovation was constructed while the center remained operational, hosting more than 40 shows, including a record 83,000 attendees for Art Basel.
Some of the sustainability measures included in the design were recycled materials, reduced-flow fixtures, high-efficiency LED lighting and light sensors throughout. During construction, 96 percent of the construction waste was recycled. These attributes recently helped the center garner LEED Silver certification, highlighting the city’s commitment to sustainability and resiliency.
ARCHITECT: Fentress Architects
ASSOCIATE ARCHITECT: Arquitectonica
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: West8
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Clark Construction Co.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Wallace Engineering & Structural Consultants Inc.
MEP/FP ENGINEER: ME Engineers
CIVIL ENGINEER: Kimley-Horn
LIGHTING DESIGNER: ME Engineers
TERRAZZO INSTALLER: David Allen Co.
UNITIZED CURTAINWALL: Harmon Inc.
ALUMINUM FINS: Sentech Architectural Systems
CUSTOM CARPET: Milliken
CUSTOM CEILINGS: Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions
CUSTOM LIGHT FIXTURES: Yellow Goat Design
BATHROOM FIXTURES: The Splash Lab
ACOUSTICAL WALL PANELS: Knoll Textiles
LOBBY TERRAZZO: Terrazzo & Marble Supply Cos.