Miami Beach

Committee ranks firms bidding to lead Miami Beach Convention Center renovation

An evaluation committee has ranked the firms vying for a contract to renovate Miami Beach’s aging convention center.

Fentress Architects was given the top ranking by the committee, made up of residents, community leaders and industry experts. The firms Gensler and LMN Architects tied for second place. Woods Bagot is considered fourth.

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales will weigh the committee’s rankings before making his recommendation to the City Commission. The commission will ultimately decide which firm should land the job. A special commission meeting to hold the vote is scheduled for April 9.

Eight companies had applied to be the design criteria professional for the $500 million project.

Miami Beach is looking for a firm to design and build its convention center, which city, hotel and tourism leaders say supports a vital industry. But before a design-build team can be picked, state law requires Miami Beach to first hire a design criteria professional.

The design criteria professional — the contract that is currently out to bid — will draw up at least 30 percent of the project’s design plans. Those preliminary plans will serve as the basis for another city bid, this one for a design-build team.

Because of procurement laws, presentations by the potential design criteria professional firms were not open to the public, but the selection committee’s deliberations were.

Committee members said they were impressed by the top-ranked firms’ experience, teamwork and unique designs.

“Great competition,” said committee member Peter McStravick, of the Houston First Corporation.

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