Miami-Dade County

Institute of Contemporary Art can demolish homes to build sculpture garden

A rendering of the sculpture garden behind the Institute of Contemporary Art, the proposed museum in the Design District.
A rendering of the sculpture garden behind the Institute of Contemporary Art, the proposed museum in the Design District. Institute of Contemporary Art

The Institute of Contemporary Art received permission Tuesday night to demolish three homes in a historic district in order to build a sculpture park, but some conditions placed on the approval may make the decision unpalatable.

Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board voted 3 to 2 to allow the museum, which is located in the Design District, to tear down the homes behind the building on parcels in the southern edge of the Buena Vista East Historic District. The approval came after the board initially voted against the museum’s request only to reconsider, and came with a caveat that the museum not use a sculpture park gate to ship in sculptures too large to enter through the museum.

Board members placed that condition on the approval out of concern for neighbors, some of whom are angry at the idea of sitting on their front porch and looking at cocktail parties and social functions behind a fence, and bamboo and buttonwood trees. Previously the neighborhood association had issues with the project, but they came to terms and secured a covenant with museum chairwoman Irma Braman and her husband, auto magnate Norman Braman.

Steve Helfman, an attorney representing the museum, said his client may have to appeal to the Miami Commission if the board’s approval proves too restrictive. The city commission must also approve a rezoning of the whole museum property later this summer.

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