BIG with West 8, Fentress, JPA propose Miami Beach Square


Miami Beach is a unique city in so many ways. It is one of the youngest cities in America – and perhaps right now one of the most vibrant and dynamic. Its streetscape is characterized by a lively walkable urban fabric with a friendly human scaled environment under the cool shade of tropical trees and art deco canopies – except at the convention center. It is a dead black hole of asphalt in the heart of one the most beautiful and lively cities in America. Our mission is to bring Miami Beach back to the Convention Center – and to imagine an architecture and an urban space unique to the climate and culture of Miami Beach.

MIAMI BEACH SQUARE from BIG on Vimeo.


We propose to roll out an urban fabric of paths and plazas, parks and gardens that forms an archipelago of urban oases throughout the site. At the heart of it – we introduce a central square to become the pivoting point of the entire neighborhood. Becoming the front door to the convention center, and the convention hotel, a front lawn to the revitalized Jackie Gleason Theatre, a town square for the city hall, an outdoor arena for the Latin American Cultural Museum, and the red carpet for the big botanical ball room.


The square creates a series of intuitive connections across the site – a diagonal that connects the Soundscape to the Botanical Gardens and Holocaust Memorial. A north-south connection joins the Collins Canal to Lincoln Road and naturally channels the flow of convention visitors to the liveliness of Lincoln Road. A green network of public spaces that stitches together all of the adjacent neighborhoods – formerly separated by the convention center – into a complete and coherent community – for both visitors and residents. All public programs – old and new come together on the square. All great cities have a great square – this will be Miami Beach Square.

 “Rather than scattering all the program across the 52 acre site we have decided to concentrate it around the center piece of our public realm – Miami Beach Square bringing focus to the renovated Jackie Gleason Theater, the entrance of the convention center and for the first time ever creating a worthy civic presence to Miami Beach City Hall.” Jamie Maslyn Larsen, West 8, Creator of Soundscape Park


By popular demand we have found a way to preserve and enhance the architecture and programming of the Jackie Gleason Theatre. By making it all public at the street level – opening up lobbies, restaurants and cafes on all sides – we make the Gleason a lively centerpiece in this new neighborhood. Towards the Square we propose to extend the fly tower with a performing arts center with various spaces for rehearsal and offering a visual connection to the public. Adjacent to the Jackie Gleason Theater sits the new Latin American Cultural Museum consisting of a base of public programs opening up on the square. The building form creates a covered shaded event space on the square blurring the transition between inside and outside.


Rather than being the hermetic mono programmatic box that the Miami Beach Convention Center is today – a single program at the size of an urban block-  we propose to consider the Convention Center an actual urban block complete with different programs  – grown together to form a continuous architecture. A gradual transition from public to private – and from cultural to civic – conference to residential turns a stroll around the block into an experience of continuous variation. Along the entire west adjacent to the various gardens and the new square – the main entrances to the convention Center and Conference Center occupies the ground. The hotel lobby spans the entire south elevation in continuation of the Convention Center lobby. The Hotel façade as pulled back forming a cascade of terraces for the south facing hotel rooms – decreasing the perceived height seen from the Gleason.



The Roof of the Convention Center is framed by a green roof drawing the outline of the urban block – framing the hotel gardens and the roof parking interspersed with shade giving landscapes. As a reoccurring annual event we propose to sponsor an art foundation that will deliver a roof art piece to cover the remaining roof surface turning it into a giant ever changing canvas seen from the air as well as the roof terrace of the hotel. An ever changing giant canvas that will annually challenge contemporary artists with an architectural scale canvas – seen from the roofs and penthouses of adjacent buildings, from airplanes and google earth.


BIG with West 8, Fentress, JPA propose Miami Beach Square 

BIG Team Credit List:

Creative Director: Bjarke Ingels, Partners-in-Charge: Thomas Christoffersen, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Project Leader: Leon Rost, Project Team: Romea Muryn, Blake Smith, Carolien Schippers, Doug Stechschulte, Chris Junkin, Choonghye Lee, Kenneth Amoah, Ivy Hume, David Dottelonde, Birk Daugaard, Christoffer Gotfredsen, Maya Shapova, Manon Gicquel, David Splitter

Project Team Credit List:
Development Team: Portman Holdings, CMC, Bal Harbor Shops, Cirque du Soleil

Design / Planning Team: BIG (master plan and architecture), West 8 (public realm), John Portman & Associates (hotel), Fentress (convention center), Revuelta Architects (local)

Consultant Team: Schwebke Shishkin (Civil), Plummer Associates (Traffic) , HDC Associates (Estimating, Scheduling), CMC Group Construction, Greenberg Traurig (Legal), Desimone (Structural), Space Syntax (Pedestrian Accessibility), MIT/Carlo Ratti Associati (Technology), Lead Pencil Studio (Art Consultation)

PR / Marketing / Branding Team: Garber & Goodman (Public Relations),
Cinnamon Associates (Public Relations)

Feasibility Team: Courtney Lord (Retail), BRC (Entertainment), Noell Consulting (Residential)

Financing Team: Piper Jaffray, Brookfield, HFF

Production Team: Squint Opera (Animation), MIR (Renderings), Kennedy Fabricators (Model)

IMAGES | Courtesy of BIG

TEXT | BIG

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