Monday, April 16, 2012

Miami Science Museum

Miami Science Museum in Miami, Florida by Grimshaw

Miami has been fairly busy lately adding contemporary architecture to its urban landscape. Completed in the last couple years are Frank Gehry's New World Center and Herzog & de Meuron's 1111 Lincoln Road. The latter is a parking garage, a type that Zaha Hadid is also working on in Miami. Under construction are the Miami Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron and Grimshaw's design for the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, which broke ground earlier this year and is located adjacent to the art museum.

The rendering of the Miami Science Museum at the top of the page illustrates one of the must-have components of any contemporary science museum: the planetarium. Being a full dome, these pieces are often a difficult fit inside a new or existing building. The Rose Planetarium by then Polshek Partnership (now Ennead Architects) is one of the better examples of how to articulate a sphere -- inside a cube. Grimshaw opts to let the sphere remain freestanding, curving the building around it and making it a three-dimensional signpost for the museum.
[We] have seen wonderful ideas from so many contributors coalesce into a truly innovative museum: A museum in which the building itself serves as a significant exhibit, welcoming interaction and showcasing an optimistic story of environmental responsiveness. -Grimshaw partner Vincent Chang
As the above quote indicates, the museum is designed as a "living building." To allow the building to change in response to environmental and other conditions, "high performance ventilation and air conditioning systems will be fine-tuned to provide superior comfort at low energy for the interior spaces. A vegetated roof will be accompanied by a constructed wetland adjacent to the building for control of storm water runoff and to enhance site biodiversity."

The key to the concept is the "living core": the aquarium and wildlife center that is embraced by the boomerang-shaped plan and overlooks Bicentennial Park on Biscayne Bay. The shaping of the volume with the aquarium and wildlife center -- and the floating roof that caps it -- makes it stand out as something special, particularly against the backdrop of the orthogonal bar, which it is linked to via bridges. The atrium space between these two larger pieces will be especially important, both as a social space and means of venting the building to make it approach its goals.

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