Miami Beach Convention Center to Undergo a Major Overhaul


Photo courtesy of the Miami Beach Convention Center. 

Over the past 50 years, the Miami Beach Convention Center has been the epicenter of South Beach. Originally named the “Miami Beach Exhibition Hall,” the center was built in 1957 to accommodate 15,000 people and had doubled in size following its first renovation in 1989. The center hosted several historic events that included Cassius Clay’s first heavyweight championship in 1964, the Republican National Conventions in 1968 and 1972, and the Democratic National Convention in 1972. This popular venue also hosted the Miss Universe pageant from 1960-1971, and again in 1997.

The center now hosts several annual trade shows and events that include the Miami International Boat Show, the South Florida International Auto Show, and Art Basel Miami Beach.  Currently Miami-Dade County’s largest convention facility, the Miami Beach Convention Center is planning a massive expansion into an even larger venue.

The Miami Beach Convention Center is slated to undergo a five million dollar ultramodern makeover. Two individual design firms, Arquitectonica and West-8, will oversee the remodeling of the conference center and the land adjacent to the complex. Miami architectural firm Arquitectonica plans to revamp the current exterior facade of the building, adorning it with waves of rippling aluminum slats and fins shaped to resemble ocean waves. Renovations for the center are scheduled to begin as early as December 2015.

Convention center

Rendering of the proposed Miami Beach Convention Center Courtesy of Fentress Architects

Design proposals by landscaping and urban development company West 8 include creating two parks along the Collins Canal and in the parking lot between Convention Center Drive and Meridian Avenue. Their plan involves demolishing the 21st Street Recreation Center on Washington Avenue and using the 800-space parking lot surrounding the convention center to create a more environmentally friendly locale. A new public park will incorporate 175 new shade trees, and provide lawn areas for visitors. The centerpiece of the park will be a Veteran’s Memorial, designed to interlace with with the park’s natural flora. Miami Beach commissioners are also considering building a hotel behind The Fillmore, also known as the Jackie Gleason Theater. This hotel plan would require the approval from 60 percent of Miami Beach residents. 


-Ursa Gil

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