MIAMI NICE

perezThe Pérez Art Museum in Miami suits the city and it suits modern art. Can’t ask for more than that. My first glimpse of the museum, which opened in 2013, was from the MacArthur Causeway, which swoops across the water next to the museum. The hovering shade roof over a boxy building gave the impression of a Renzo Piano museum. But something was different, and the difference became clear when later that day we visited the building. As in a Piano building, the architecture is derived from the construction, but unlike Piano, Herzog and de Meuron don’t sweat the details. Instead of preciousness there is an appealing rough-and-ready quality. The concrete is smooth, but not silky smooth like the Kimbell; the roof shade, a slapped-up assembly of wood and concrete, is not delicate like that of the Chicago Institute of Art. All this suits Miami, a booming city of construction cranes (recession, what recession?) that is rebuilding itself decade by decade in an improvised and not particularly coherent way. The site of the museum is on the water (good), but it is also next to the MacArthur Causeway (bad). How do you build a cultural facility next to a reasonable approximation of the Indianapolis Speedway? The New York Times has described the Pérez Museum as “spectacular,” but that is not the right word. It is assertive and self-confident, but not theatrical. The planted columns that hang from the roof outside are photogenic but they strike me as weird rather than interesting. Their logic becomes apparent when you are inside looking out—they make an interesting green screen. And the discrete white galleries do not overwhelm the art, as far as I could tell (I am not a fan of contemporary art). A final word—about the parking garage. The museum is raised on a platform beneath which sits the garage. With a few deft strokes, the architects have transformed this arrival space (this is Miami so everyone drives). Natural light penetrates from the sides; tropical planting is mixed in among the parked cars; and the floor is not concrete but gravel. That feels rough-and-ready, too..

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