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PAMM | Herzog & De Meuron >> Surrounded by and filled with nature

“Miami is known for its iconic art deco district: decorated boxes with no great relationship or exchange between inside and outside. What makes Miami so extraordinary however, is its amazing climate, lush vegetation and cultural diversity. How can these assets be fully exploited and translated into architecture?”


The building’s environmental circumstances are central to the architectural concept. Located in a park, the transition between inside and outside is crucial and a filter-like space is needed or, at least, recommended: this concept finds its perfect expression in the welcoming Veranda. As a medium between the park and the museum, the Veranda dominates the entire site with its canopy, columns and vegetation. Because of its proximity to the water, the museum is lifted off the ground to make sure that the art to is placed above storm surge level.

“In this exceptional location” the architects explain “we wanted the museum to offer generous views to the outside. Yet all the building’s expansive windows are recessed, with wooden planks under the concrete beams to minimize the sun’s impact on the glazing and to reduce the building’s energy consumption for cooling. Tropical plants selected for their resilience to the local conditions engulf the structural system”.

Thanks to a proper use of materials and technologies, Herzog & De Meuron created not only an impressive and interesting architecture, but also a comfortable place. Some precautions, adopted in the design of the roof and plants, considerably reduce temperature gaps between outside and inside. The external concrete surface has two different finishes: some walls are rough, some others are smooth and reflective, especially if adjacent to the glazing glass.

The museum is organised around four different gallery types. Each one has a specific shape and role, but they are all characterized by large openings with views onto the park, downtown Miami, the bay and the freeway. The Overview galleries host the museum’s collection and also serve as connecting tissue to other rooms. The flowing sequence is sometimes interrupted by Focus and Project galleries, which are individual rooms that display a single artist or a specific theme, collection or commissioned work. The Special Exhibition galleries are more flexible than the others, as they have to adapt to the various contemporary art exhibitions. They are spatious with just a few openings: their geometry can be easily rearranged by temporary walls.

PAMM’s spaces are extremely specific, but they are supposed to be enjoyed by the public at any time. When the museum is preparing an exhibition, you can see it; when a space is empty and inactive, visitors and staff can use it for individual readings or introductions to public. The stair has a double function too: large as a gallery, it is at the same time a connection between the exposition floors and an auditorium: in fact, different configurations of sound insulating curtains provide spaces for lectures, film screenings, concerts and performances. Finally, also the museum shop and the bistro are open to the public and located at the platform level, looking towards the bay.

“Rather than being an isolated jewel box for art lovers and specialists, the museum provides comfortable public space for everybody. It is an extension of the park, offering gradual transitions from the outside to the inside, from the warm to the cool, from the humid to the dry and from the street to the art.”

Arcophotos | Daniel Azoulay | Iwan BaanOriol Tarridas


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