Herzog & de Meuron’s Pérez Art Museum Miami is a new icon for the city

Street level view of the museum building from about 75 metres distance away.
The Pérez Art Museum Miami by Herzog & de Meuron is a bold new addition to city's downtown district.
(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

The opening of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (opens in new tab) was the star attraction of this year's Art Basel Miami Beach (opens in new tab). It was not only art lovers who flocked to see the new 3000 square-metre gallery by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron (opens in new tab) (we first visited the Perez in April, when it was still under construction (opens in new tab)). On the first Sunday of its public opening, the parking lot was overflowing and locals were queuing round the block to take a tour of their newest cultural landmark.

Surrounded by lush tropical planting, the glass and concrete structure is raised on stilts and features a sweeping veranda and hanging columns of plants. Each gallery offers views over bridges, highrises, and expanses of tropical blue water. You couldn't be anywhere other than Miami - which for project architect and senior partner Christine Binswanger, was the point. 'Given the spectacular location, PAMM offers more views than any of the other 14 museums we have built,' she says. 'To balance the intimate and concentrated experience of contemporary art with exposure to the sea and the park was one of the things we wanted to achieve.'

Adds Binswanger: 'We wanted the building to be rough, to feel real, inside and outside, not invent another interesting cladding. Concrete as a structure and a finish has rarely been done around here, and for a museum even less so.' At the Perez Art Museum, It works perfectly. The work of late Cuban painter Amelia Peláez and the hanging steel sculpture of Monika Sosnowska simply pop against the concrete walls. 

Until March, Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei (with whom Herzog & de Meuron collaborated on the Beijing 'Bird's Nest' stadium (opens in new tab)) is the headline act, but the museum has its own permanent collection of 1800 works, many of which are by American and Latin American artists and occupy the two lower levels of the building. A huge, open plan screening area hints at an impressive film programme.

With its extensive greenery, acres of glass and seamless transitions from the outside to the inside, PAMM is the antitheses of the intimidating 'white cube.'  

'Museums should be as open as possible to a real variety of attitudes and forms. PAMM can become such a place for everyone,' says Jacques Herzog. Judging by the local Sunday crowds, who were sporting six-inch heels, mini skirts and bikinis and pushing baby strollers, his assertions might just be right. 

A close-up of the exterior of the building featuring tropical planting.

Surrounded by lush tropical planting, the glass and concrete museum is raised on stilts and features a sweeping veranda and hanging columns of plants. Each gallery offers views over bridges, highrises, and expanses of tropical blue water.

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

A long-shot of the museum illuminated at dusk.

The hanging gardens were designed by Patrick Blanc.

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

A long-shot of the tropical plants hanging from the ceiling inside the building.

With its extensive greenery, acres of glass and seamless transitions from the outside to the inside, PAMM is the antitheses of the intimidating 'white cube.'

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

A close-up of a stairwell leading to an upper level and the tropical plants hanging from the roof.

The vertical garden adorning the front facade is one of the museum's key characteristics.

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

Inside an exhibition area with two rows of wall art stretching along the length and back of the walls. A circular pine-cone style wood object in the foreground and other objects in the distance.

Until March, Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei (with whom Herzog & de Meuron collaborated on the Beijing 'Bird's Nest' stadium) is the headline act. Pictured is his retrospective, 'Ai Weiwei: According to What?'

(Image credit: Daniel Azoulay)

Inside the exhibition area with wall art on all three walls.

Other exhibitions occupy the museum's two lower levels.

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

Exhibition space featuring three wall art pieces and a wall drawing of connected lines.

'Americana: Progressive Forms' is another of the museum's opening shows. 

(Image credit: Daniel Azoulay)

Three large wall art pieces.

The museum has its own permanent collection of 1800 works, many of which are by American and Latin American artists.

(Image credit: Daniel Azoulay)

Looking through a bay window to a river and bridge.

Openings in the museum's facade offer views over Biscayne Bay. 

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

ADDRESS

Pérez Art Museum Miami 

1103 Biscayne Blvd.

Miami, FL 33132 

USA

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Emma O'Kelly is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. She joined the magazine on issue 4 as news editor and since since then has worked in full and part time roles across many editorial departments. She is a freelance journalist based in London and works for a range of titles from Condé Nast Traveller to The Telegraph. She is currently working on a book about Scandinavian sauna culture and is renovating a mid century house in the Italian Lakes.