New $500M convention center design gets approval

Miami Beach commissioners still must select general contractor for project
By Erik Bojnansky | November 05, 2014 12:00PM

Miami Beach Convention Center rendering (Credit: Miami Herald)

The Miami Beach Design Review Board unanimously approved designs for an expanded convention center and two nearby parks on Tuesday.

Miami Beach commissioners still must choose a general contractor for the $500 million project, which could begin in December 2015. The board’s approval came with conditions: members must receive a report detailing how the revamped convention center will handle traffic within 90 days. They also want details on how the center will be more environmentally-friendly and a list of potential staging areas for future events, such as the Miami International Boat Show and Art Basel.

The plans for a renovated convention center and two new parks were created by Denver-based Fentress Architects, Miami-firm Arquitectonica and West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture of New York. Under the approved design, 70,000 square feet of new meeting and ballroom facilities and 900 parking spaces will be added to the 1-million-square-foot center, which was built in 1957.

A glass façade is designed to illuminate future conventions with natural sunlight from the outside, according to a planning department report. The renovation will also create “more flexible arrangements of private meeting rooms and additional indoor/outdoor versatile exhibition spaces.”

To create more open space, the 21st Street Recreation Center on Washington Avenue will be demolished and replaced with a 1.8-acre park. The 800-space parking lot surrounding the convention center will also be converted into a 5.8-acre park filled with canopy trees, a lawn area and a veterans’ plaza.

The improvements will come at a cost, as the parking lot used as a staging area to build exhibition space will be eliminated, according to Maria Hernandez, a special assistant to the city manager.

“That will have to be marshalled outside of Miami Beach,” Hernandez said.

Behind the convention center, Miami Beach commissioners are considering the construction of a hotel behind the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackson Gleason Theater. The project would likely need approval from 60 percent of the city’s voters.