Thursday, July 27, 2006

Miami Performing Arts Center Cultural Beacon

Considering the Disney family gave $75 million dollars for the naming rights of the Frank Gehry designed symphony hall in LA, Carnival got a deal when they landed the naming rights for the nearly half-billion dollar Miami Performing Arts Center for $20 million dollars. Beggars can't be choosers but that is a drop in a bucket with a perpetual leak. Perhaps the Art Deco Sears tower can come to the rescue. Architect Cesar Pelli was forced to keep it in his design by well-meaning but misguided preservationists who went epileptic when they found out that it might get nixed in the plan. Although it is not a great example of the Art Deco style, it seems it was the only example of Art Deco architecture left in Miami. Too bad there isn't any money in the budget to hire Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to turn it into a giant flashlight pointing skyward, its beam splitting the night like a Star Wars light sabre. That would give Miami that elusive signature piece of art or architecture it sorely lacks because no matter how grand the design and effective the accoustics are, Pelli's buildings would be hard to pick out of a lineup of concert halls. Still, the tower cries out to be shooting a beam of light into the night sky pinpointing the epicenter of the performing arts in Miami. If the monopoly known as Florida Power & Light would stop pouring millions of dollars into advertising campaigns reminding us that they are always there for us instead of putting that money into naming rights for the tower and its perpetual beam, that is money that would be well spent. FP&L will take up less space on the side of the tower than say Duracell or Eveready (but I do like the implications regarding the future and the dynamisim of the PAC), but beggars can't be choosers.

As an aside, the new Carnival Performing Arts Center website quotes Pelli regarding the Sears tower: " connects with a past that was precious to many people." As someone who grew up here, that statement reeks with irony. It was in the Sears tower that I was first exposed to racisim and the Jim Crow laws of 1950's Miami. I was probably five or six when I made the mistake of going to the wrong water fountain. I was thirsty and either couldn't read yet or didn't see the sign but I drank from the "Negro" water fountain. An older and wiser kid set me straight by pointing out the "White" fountain next to it. It didn't make any sense then and it still doesn't. In time it won't matter because all of us who lived here then will have died and taken those memories with us. That's my opinion. What's yours?

Update (8/5): It seems the FAA has a problem with this proposal. They think it might blind/distract pilots flying into Miami. Check out what the Miami Vision Comic has to say about that on the August 5th blog entry. If you would like to see a way cool "Interactive" Miami Herald presentation of the CCPA (which includes news about the FAA actions) and the building boom it has spawned around it, click here: Posted by Picasa


Anonymous said...

man, everytime i pass that new center, i can only think to myself, sheesh i hope they paint it.. it's looking pretty drab as of now...

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Exactly. You would be hard pressed to pick it out of a lineup of performing arts centers-- unless, of course, the Sears tower was a GIANT FREAKING FLASHLIGHT!