Miami is currently preparing itself for the latest addition that is bound to change the city’s cultural landscape. We are talking about the 45,000 square foot Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation’s (BCF) which will become the new headquarters for Fairholme Unlimited. Not only will the building from the artistic organism house prominent contemporary art from Bruce Berkowitz’s own collection and from distinguished galleries of North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa; but it also emerges as a monumental architectural design which promises to embellish the surrounding urban environment.
The Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation, designed by Rene Gonzalez Architects, is scheduled to open in 2023 at Biscayne Boulevard between 26th street and 26th Terrace.
The BCF’s location at the city’s cultural corridor comprising downtown and midtown Miami provides an ideal and accessible setting for the display of experiential artworks made available to the general public. Art lovers’ anticipation will grow steadily after the first steps of the construction process take place in 2020. This might not form part of an immediate future but neither is it part of a faraway possibility; once the foundation arrives to Miami it will remain an intrinsic part of the modern cultural and social life of the city.
Nonetheless, before painting a picture of the building we must first examine who the artists behind its design are and the relevance it has to Miami’s modern public space.
Rene Gonzalez Architects is a Miami based firm founded in 1997 and featuring a contemporary approach to the relationship between a building and the elements which surround it. What makes this recognized group of architects so undeniably unique is the balance that their work reflects between landscape and architecture. Their holistic take on space design is greatly influenced by natural elements and an ethical responsibility towards the environment.
Although their projects are oftentimes directed towards the design of museums, galleries and exhibition spaces, the firm also engages in retail, hospitality and residential work. The prominent figure it is named after, Rene Gonzalez, abides by the idea that architecture and design itself should provide experiences rather than remaining limited to an aesthetic function. They should incorporate external factors that connect with viewers and the inhabitants of such spaces while remaining relevant to the future.
As the founder of the firm, Gonzalez, has received innumerable awards such as the American Institute of Architecture and Design Award, a Samuel Kruse Silver Medal for Design and twelve Miami AIA awards among others. Nonetheless, it is not the gleaming medals what catch our attention but rather the projects that have earned them like the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (recipient of the Miami AIA Award of Excellence). Other of his prominent works which embellish the city are the GLASS 19-story residential tower and the North Shore Bandshell Park; both located in Miami Beach.
“I enjoy every project we work on. Each one is unique and therefore, requires different responses and is developed with different concepts.”- Rene Gonzalez in his interview with Natcha Herrera for el Nuevo Herald.
Today, Rene Gonzalez Architects has been assigned the monumental task of developing an ideal space to display the Berkowitz Foundation’s collection of modern works by renowned artists such as Larry Bell, Fred Sandback, Philippe Parreno and Maurizio Cattelan, just to name a few. This non-profit organization headed by Chloe Berkowitz pays tribute to high quality art in all its expressions, including James Turrell’s ‘Aten Reign’, an 80 feet high, sensory and engaging installation of lights, and the two monumental curved statues of steel that make up the ‘Passage of Time’ by Richard Serra.
The Rene Gonzalez team has made sure that such works can be appreciated in all their splendor by tailoring the building’s design to the needs of the collections. The exhibition space alone will take up around 30,000 square feet to showcase both permanent installations and temporary collections spread out through the second and third floors. Visitors will thus, immerse themselves in the stimulating visual experience that the iconic contemporary setting provides from the very beginning of their journey through the foundation’s grounds which will also feature an impressive outdoor plaza with access to Miami’s metropolitan environment.
The BCF building is also expected to provide a touch of theatricality through the dramatic design of its main entrance positioned right beneath an impressive cantilevered second story. Meanwhile, pedestrians passing by Biscayne Blvd will be offered a clear glimpse of Richard Serra’s sculpture through the perfect positioning of the building’s glass wall. This detailed-oriented composition by Rene Gonzalez Architects plans to include spacious galleries with varying dimensions, some featuring higher ceilings than others based on the artwork they contain. Daylight is also an important component for the building’s interior design seeing as it enhances the space’s flexibility and introduces a natural element which is oftentimes intertwined with Gonzalez’ work.
The building’s splendor is bound to resonate harmoniously with the modern and vibrant Edgewater neighborhood and amplify the city’s cultural atmosphere. The Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation will pay tribute to irreplaceable modern representations of art in all their splendor while Rene Gonzalez’ team ensures that the building itself remains a legacy of the architectural richness for the inhabitants of Miami. Later on when you come across the early stages of its construction, just close your eyes and visualize the possibilities that this building promises to bring for a more widespread appreciation of art while engaging people in the artistic landscape of the city.