Perez Art Museum of Miami: Despite Odd Angles and Odious Name, PAMM Is Promising
Drivers headed west toward downtown on the MacArthur Causeway have been greeted by two strange sights lately. To the north, the old Miami Herald office has already begun to decay, its once grand signage replaced by the flickering neon of what looks like a dive bar named Brown Mackie College. Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the newspaper's sad slump, a futuristic building has suddenly risen to the south. Perched atop concrete stilts, it peers over the causeway like a spaceship from Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.
Michael E. Miller PAMM rises downtown
It's no alien invader. But the new Miami Art Museum -- designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron -- is nonetheless on a mission to take this city's cultural scene into hyperdrive.
Director Thomas Collins recently took New Times on a tour of the much-discussed building. Here's how it went.
We arrived with reservations. After all, the museum has been embroiled in controversy since it officially changed its name to the Pérez Art Museum Miami. In 2011, billionaire real estate developer Jorge M. Pérez -- known as the tropical Donald Trump -- slapped his name on the structure in exchange for a $40 million donation of cash and art. Several board members board quit over the decision.
Equally jarring is the initial impression that PAMM has a better view of the causeway than of Biscayne Bay or the Miami skyline. But Collins, outfitted in a cowboy-hat-shaped hard hat, assured us that architects at Herzog & de Meuron had done their homework.
"If the building directly faced the bay, you'd have an hour and a half of sunlight blazing through the gallery every morning," he said. Not exactly ideal for priceless paintings. Another reason the building is flush with the MacArthur is to hide parking and to preserve as much space as possible for the adjacent Museum Park.
Michael E. Miller PAMM director Thomas Collins shows off the museum's bay view