photographer: Claudia Uribe
Built in the heart of Miami Beach, New World Center, the New World Symphony’s new campus, is an innovative facility for music education and performance with state-of-the-art technical capabilities, and an adjacent 2.5-acre public event space into which the institution will extend its programming. The campus is the first purpose-built home for the New World Symphony.
The design for the campus’ program-focused building, conceived to be at the intersection of music and architecture, has emerged from a long and close collaboration between two American artistic icons, Michael Tilson Thomas and Frank Gehry. The building is Gehry’s first Florida commission.
The main entrance of New World Center is set in a soaring, 80-foot-high glass curtain wall on the east façade, providing uninterrupted views of the skylit main atrium and the dramatic, tumbling forms of the interior spaces beyond. Created using glass with no iron content, the curtain wall is utterly clear and disappears when lit from within, by the skylight during the day and by the space’s 44 programmable, multi-directional colored lights at night. The entrance is distinguished by a white, wave-like canopy, and opens out onto the Mary and Howard Frank Plaza and the two-and-a-half acre Miami Beach SoundScape. A 650-square-foot LED light field is positioned at the top of the transparent wall, to brand the institution and announce its programming.
Located to the right of the atrium is the performance hall, its structure masked on the east façade by a giant, 7,000-square-foot projection wall, adjoining the glass-fronted entrance. The projection wall is used for outdoor presentations and is complemented by an immersive audio system in the adjacent outdoor viewing area, ExoStage@Miami Beach SoundScape. The main viewing area opposite the projection wall can accommodate up to 1,000 people, and is surrounded by speakers designed to look like two giant, gently curving ballet barres.
On New World Center’s north façade, a protruding sunshade juts out over 17th Street, providing shade for the performance hall’s window below. On the west side of building a covered walkway leads to the adjoining Pennsylvania Avenue Garage, which is illuminated at night with LED lighting.
The six-story high, glass-fronted atrium provides a spectacular and dynamic entry-point to the building, with its playful, tumbling geometric forms delineating the structure of the internal spaces. When viewed from outside the building at night, these large, dramatically-lit, irregular forms take on the character of performers on a proscenium stage, turning the building itself into a performance. The skylit atrium incorporates the campus’ box office, a large, illuminated glass bar with an undulating, blue-tinted titanium canopy, and baby-blue banquettes with plywood backing. The space features polished concrete floors and painted walls.
A plasma wall, measuring 17 foot long by 6.5 foot high, lines the box office, facing the atrium and Miami Beach SoundScape, announcing additional news about programming in the building and on the projection wall.
The atrium also features the sculpture Taboehan (2003) by artist Frank Stella. A monumental work in unpainted bent tubing of stainless aluminum, the 1,200-pound piece measures 116 x 240 x 102 inches and is suspended by the main entrance to the building. Donated by Miami collector Martin Z. Margulies, Taboehan is the only work of art permanently on view at New World Center.
The iconic performance hall is a technically sophisticated, flexible and immersive space with seating for 756 people.
Uniquely designed entryways lead from the atrium into the hall, with two serpentine corridors delicately narrowing and then widening to dramatically reveal the space. Visitors enter the hall in its center, by the stage, and are greeted by a 360-degree view of the space.
Fourteen distinctive configurations of the stage and in-the-round seating allow for new performance experiences. The hall features 247 seats that retract to offer flat-floor and cabaret-style seating opportunities, while 10 individual mechanical stage lifts create various performance levels. Four satellite performance platforms within the hall not only reduce mid-concert stage resets but also alter the relationship between the performers and the audience.
Large, 360-degree curvilinear acoustic sails span the upper half of the space, and double as projection surfaces that will enhance the concert-going experience with theatrical lighting, specially commissioned videos and projected contextual information from fourteen 30,000 lumen projectors. Natural light in the performance hall is afforded via an overhead skylight and a large panoramic window located behind the stage.
The hall’s seats are upholstered in mottled patterns of blues and white – specially designed by Frank Gehry – which are inspired by the building’s tropical location and intended to bring imagery of the water and sky of Miami Beach into the performance hall.
Design team: Architect:
Gehry Partners, LLP
Los Angeles, California
Design Partner – Frank Gehry
Project Designer – Craig Webb
Managing Partner – Terry Bell
Project Architect – Brad Winkeljohn
Project Manager – Kristin Ragins
Project Team – Curtis Christensen , Dan Sokolosky, Molly Forr, Lisa Cage , Shikha Doogar, Petar Vrcibradic, Leon Cheng, Vartan Chalikian, Armando Solano, Luciana Vidal, Rolando Mendoza
Client: Led by founder and Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy
Project partners: Acoustician:
Nagata Acoustics America, Inc
Los Angeles, California
Dr. Yasuhisa Toyota
Robert Mahoney, Robert F Mahoney & Associates
Structural Engineering: Gilsanz, Murray, Steficek, LLP
MEP-FP Engineering: Cosentini & Associates
Theater Consultant: Theatre Projects Consultants
Lighting Designer: LAM Partners, Inc.
Sound & Projection Consultants: Acoustic Dimensions, Sonitus, LLC
Landscape Architect: Raymond Jungles Associates
Civil Engineer: Kimley Horn and Associates, Inc.
Construction Manger: Hines
Performance Hall Seating: Poltrona Frau