Friday, October 21, 2016

Miami Social Diary

The extraordinary Cuban-born artist Dayron Gonzalez's recent paintings are the focus of a one-man exhibition Chameleon: From Green to Red at Cernuda Arte in Coral Gables where as many as 200 attended the opening reception the night after Hurricane Matthew skirted South Florida.
Miami Preview
By Augustus Mayhew


Miami residents are catching their breath, having dodged Hurricane Matthew, and Wynwood/South Beach locals are again breathing fresh air after weeks of Zika alerts, Aedes aegypti mosquito sightings, and predawn aerial sprayings of “safe” insecticides. With the annual Art Basel pageant only weeks away, construction accelerates on the Miami Beach Convention Center’s east and north elevations. 

Despite intermittent bubble worries, streets are still muddled with front end loaders, construction trailers and cement trucks, making hard hats and mosquito repellent this year’s must-have accessories. At least, leave your flood boots at home as Miami Beach is spending $400 million on stormwater pumps and various engineering accoutrements to keep South Beach’s visitors from waking up and finding themselves in a subterranean resort.

The Whitman Family’s Bal Harbour Shops has hit an apparent political speed bump in their plans to expand and preserve their share of the luxe market. The Design District’s Craig Robins and LVMH’s L Real Estate are quickly intensifying their Midtown Miami array of brands and cultural offerings, led by the sprint to open the Institute Contemporary Art-Miami’s (ICA) 37,500-square-foot facility designed by the Madrid-based Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos firm.  While Norman Braman’s Rolls-Royce-Bentley-BMW showrooms are among the world’s leading dealerships,  Braman and his wife Irma’s reported $900 million art collection will soon be housed at ICA’s museum. Irma Braman is the organization’s chairman. Most often, the Bramans are credited with bringing Art Basel to Miami fifteen years ago.

This past summer, I attended the City of Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board (HEPB) meeting where more than 100 of the city’s  prominent historic preservation activists clashed with property owner Francisco “Paco” Martinez Celeiro (once known as actor George Martin) whether the board should landmark The Babylon,  the first Brickell Avenue commercial work of Arquitectonica. After several weeks of press by The Miami Herald and national architectural magazines and following a few hours of debate, the board voted to landmark. Most recently, Mr. Celeiro has filed an appeal to the City Commission.
The controversial hearing for an early-1980s apartment building designed by Arquitectonica attracted a crowd of supportive Babylonians.
Faena District
3201-3500 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

A few blocks north of the Zika-watched ponds, Allan Faena & Len Blavatnik’s Faena District has launched elements of what it describes as “Urban Alchemy,” perhaps a translation of an idiomatic Argentine axiom. The hotel opened. Next door, the Faena House condominium sold out. Sales at Miami Beach’s own Billionarium were headlined by a roll call of black ink billionaires. At the top of the Foster + Partners designed residences, Chicago hedge fund whiz Ken Griffin who reportedly paid $60 million for two penthouse units and owned them long enough to put them back on the market for a combined price of $73 million. By now, you know Griffin’s more than 465-foot long, 55,000-square-foot beach house on nearly 900-feet of oceanfront was approved for his 11.5 acre Palm Beach estate that may soon become more than 15 acres when he closes on Paul & Linda Saville’s adjacent estate, according to PB Daily News reports. Coincidentally, in the Palm Beach billionaire orbit, Griffin and James Clark once owned units at South Beach’s Setai condominium. Now that Griffin is in the midst of developing his $130 million Billionaire’s Row compound across from and slightly south of Il Palmetto, last month Jim Clark formally listed his Palm Beach digs for $137 million.

Back at the Argentinianopolis, finishing touches are underway across from the hotel and Billionarium on Collins Avenue for the Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed Faena Forum, Bazaar and Faena Car Park, under the direction of OMA design partner Shohei Shigematsu.  Work on Faena Mar, the former Versailles Hotel, appears to have just begun with plans to add a new resident building designed by Brandon Haw, former senior partner at Foster + Partners
Len Blavatnik & Alan Faena's "Mythic Utopia." Sketch courtesy FAENA
Faena House, 3315 Collins Avenue. Foster + Partners, architect.
Faena House, north elevation. Art dealer Larry Gagosian paid $12.95 million for unit PH-C with more than 4,700-square feet.
Faena House is an 18-story 42-unit tower.
Faena Hotel and Faena House residences. Penthouse units are now for sale in the hotel, formerly known as the Saxony Hotel built during the late 1940s.
Faena Hotel, roof detail.
Foreground, Faena Forum, north and west elevations. Rem Koolhaas/OMA, architect. Background, Faena House residences.
L to R: Faena Forum, Faena House, and Faena Hotel, view from Indian Creek Drive.
In a recent interview, OMA architect Shigei Shigematsu told reporter Doreen Hemlock at The Real Deal:

At Faena Forum, our design consists of two volumes: a cube and a cylinder. Arrival at Miami Beach hotels is always dramatic and often experienced with canopies and landscape. We didn't want to add a canopy, so we basically spliced the building, so the building itself becomes the canopy. The landscape slides underneath to create a covered exterior space. We had to use the facade of the building to hold the cantilever. We used a series of arches, and then designed a palm-tree-like pattern to create a sense of arrival. From the base, there's a water feature and stairs that lead up to a loge area. This also is thinking of the local climate and local architectural typology.
Faena Forum, west and south elevations.
Faena Forum, north elevation.
Faena Forum.
Faena Forum, west elevation.
Faena Forum, north elevation
Faena Forum, east elevation facing Collins Avenue. Right, the Faena Bazaar will be housed in the restored Atlantic Beach Hotel (1939).
Faena Car Park, east elevation facing Collins Avenue. OMA's first freestanding car garage was designed in accord with code regulations stipulating that half its area should be porous to facilitate ventilation – OMA.
Faena Car Park, north elevation. The Car Park is a mechanical valet parking garage with a perforated precast concrete facade, planned with ground-level retail and a rooftop pavilion with panoramic ocean views.
Faena Car Park, north and west elevations. To the east, the former Versailles Hotel, being transformed into the Faena Mar residences.
Versailles/Faena Mar, façade and north elevation. 3425 Collins Avenue. Stay tuned! The former Versailles Hotel's conversion into Faena Mar residences and the addition of a new tower are now on hold, according to developer Allan Faena's October 16 interview @ The Real Deal
The former Versailles Hotel has been shelled.
Miami Design District

The 18-square block shopping and cultural destination is an ongoing Opening Soon hard hat area in anticipation of the upcoming Art Basel + Design Miami convergence.
A dynamic new building nears completion, designed by Mexico City architect Enrique Norten, principal of TEN Architectos.
41st Street centerpiece, the ICA's new facility under construction. At the far left, the De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space.
ICA-Miami, north elevation, view from 42 Street. Under construction. The ICA's holdings from the Braman Collection will more than compensate for the lack of a dramatic setting that is currently the main aesthetic appeal of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).
ICA-Miami, conceptual drawing, view from 42 Street.
This bungalow on 42 Street is directly across from what will be the ICA's sculpture garden. I happened to run into several neighbors on 42 Street who were perturbed by the scale/corpulence of the new ICA facility and its invasiveness in their otherwise historic ensemble of cottages.
ICA-Miami, south and west elevations, view from 41 Street.
Chameleon – From Green to Red
Recent Paintings by Dayron Gonzalez
October 7, 2016 – November 30, 2016
Cernuda Arte
3143 Ponce de Leon, Coral Gables
Because of unknowns surrounding whether Hurricane Matthew would hit South Florida, most workplaces and events were cancelled Friday, making for a speedy drive to Coral Gables.
Cernuda Arte, Main Gallery.
Nercys Cernuda and Fini Lignarolo.
Cernuda Arte welcomed several hundred guests.
The artist Dayron Gonzalez arrives.
During the Trial, 2016. (Durante al Juicio). Oil on canvas 50" by 70". $25,000.
Diana and Anabelle with their chaperones Victor Gonzalez and Rosemely Martinez standing in front of new works by Dayron Gonzalez.
Luisa Lignarolo, senior art consultant at Cernuda Arte.
Artist Dayron González.
Moment of Glory II, 2016 (Momento de Gloria II). Oil on canvas, 82" by 67". Private Collection.
Moment of Glory II, 2016, Detail.
Left: The Offering (La Ofrenda), 2016. Oil on canvas, 72" by 66".Private Collection. Right: The Farmer (El Granjero), 2016. Oil on canvas, 79" by 93". Private Collection.
I asked Dayron if there was a painting he would like to be photographed with.
Tatiana and Etienne Manderscheid.
The Fitting Room, Self-Portrait (Probador, Auroretrato), 2016. Oil on canvas, 80" by 60". $30,000.
El Colector de Flores (Collector of Flowers), 2015. Oil on canvas, 17" by 28". Private Collection. While the Fidel Castro paintings are fascinating, I found this one to be especially poetic.
In the upstairs gallery, Giora Breil and Carlos Malamud stand guard with the painting My PC, a work by Vicente Hernandez.
The New Church (La Nueva Iglesia), 2016. Oil on canvas, 59" by 79". $20,000. An articulate statement on the folly of the Cuban government.
The Cult of Image (Culto a la Imagen), 2016. Oil on canvas, 20" by 16". Private Collection.
Camila Zas and Pablo Alcocer.
Lady in White (Dama de Blanco), 2016. Oil on canvas, 70" by 51". Private Collection.
The prodigious Dayron Gonzalez.
The Babylon (1982)
240 SE 14 Street, Miami. 
Arquitectonica, architect.

The Saga Continues … Owner appeals historic designation

Whether an iconic landmark or an anomalous structural artifact, it is disconcerting whenever historic preservation is hijacked by anti-development pitchforks and torches. Although I have supported the historic designation of late 20th-century buildings, the 34-year-old Babylon apartment house is not one of them. Especially after attending the July meeting of Miami’s Historic Preservation Board where the board voted 6-0 to designate The Babylon. In September, the owner filed an appeal. I would agree with NYT architecture critic Paul Goldberger’s assessment of Arquitectonica’s designs in 1983: “Virtually every building in town looks better from afar … While surely they are the best of the new buildings tall buildings in Miami, they too lose much of their appeal on close examination.”{Appeal of Miami Skyline Lost at Pedestrian Level, NYT, 12-25-1983). A Christian Science Monitor headline read: “Glitter of Miami From Afar, Dulls in a Close-Up.” Other articles pointed out that the designs were “ too simple, too diagrammatic … there is a cartoonish quality to all of them.”  In 1991, Vincent Scully described Arquitectonica’s work as “high-rise glitz” and “the Rem Koolhaas zaniness of the Arquitectonica group.”(Back to the Future with a Detour Through Miami, NYT, 1-27-1991).
The Babylon Rather than document The Babylon as it was built four years after it was first designed and how it appears today, the staff's presentation featured Arquitectonica's late 1970s conceptual drawings. I sensed the apartment house's distinctive red step-gable façade more visually related to the profile of the red steps found at Rem Koolhaas/Arquitectonica's Pink House than inspired by Babylonian or Dutch architecture.
The Babylon's neighbors living in the surrounding high-rises were in the audience concerned with the preservation of their views.
July 5, 2016/3:05 pm. Historic & Environmental Preservation Board, City of Miami. The meeting was held at Miami City Hall, the former Pan American Terminal Building (1934) originally built as a seaplane base.
Historic Dinner Key.
William Hopper, PhD, chairman of HEPB.
A. Vicky Leiva, partner at Bilzin Sumberg represented The Babylon's owner. A former assistant attorney for the City of Miami, Leiva served as counsel to Bacardi USA in the historic designation of the firm's Biscayne Boulevard complex. The Bacardi buildings are worthy of historic designation.
Megan Cross Schmitt, preservation officer for City of Miami.
While I appreciate modifications are customary, these drawings really did not represent the building as it was constructed in 1982 or as it stands today.
The Babylon is located on an irregular lot on the short block between Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Bay.
Arva Moore Parks, Miami's distinguished historian.
Aerial, c. pre-WW II.. The ten-block area between Biscayne Bay and Brickell Avenue south of the Miami River remained single-family residential until the early 1960s. A decade later, high-rise apartment buildings proliferated the area. Note: Map locations are approximate. State of Florida Archives.
Supplanting the above-pictured house, The Babylon was designed in 1978 and completed in 1982 on a 15,000-square-foot irregular lot.
Lawyer A. Vicky Leiva pleaded the owner's case to an attentive audience and less than sympathetic commissioners.
Clockwise from top left: Jordan Trachtenberg; David Freedman; Todd Tragash; Lynn Lewis.
The Babylon's signature feature is more of a slight cut-out screen than a traditional façade.
To the south of The Babylon, a towering monolith.
Pan American Terminal Building, reconstructed lobby with murals depicting the history of flight.
Murals, Xavier Cortada, artist. Pan American Terminal Building.
Terazzo mosaic, Pan American Terminal Building entrance.
Grove at Grand Bay – Under Construction
Bjark Ingels Group (BIG) - Architect
2669 South Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove
Summer, 2016
The spiral twin towers add another dimension to the Grove's skyline.
North Tower
North & South Towers.
South Tower
Grove at Grand Bay, South Tower. BIG, Architect.
Collins Park Hotel
2000 Park Avenue, South Beach
A touch of Facadism.
Collins Park Hotel. 2000 Park Avenue, Miami Beach.
Collins Park Hotel, façade.
Graffiti. Class War. Collins Park Hotel. 2000 Park Avenue, Miami Beach.
Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Palm Beach-A Greater Grandeur