One of the last grand designs from the late architect Zaha Hadid will remain unrealized after Miami Beach rejected her plans for a garage and public plaza in the Collins Park neighborhood.
The stalled project had been in the works since 2011, when the city chose Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker prize, to design a garage and public plaza to replace two city-owned surface parking lots behind the Miami City Ballet and adjacent library. The initial concept, while much lauded, came in at about $50 million — almost double the city’s $27 million budget.
Zaha Hadid, world’s only superstar female architect, dies in Miami Beach
Since then, City Hall and Hadid’s firm had gone back and forth trying to bring costs down.
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Hadid died unexpectedly March 31 at Mount Sinai Medical Center after suffering a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis. Hadid, 65, lived in London but considered Miami Beach her second home. She kept a pied-à-terre not far from the site of the planned garage.
On Wednesday, a principal from Berenblum Busch Architecture, Hadid’s local partner on the project, told commissioners she was particularly passionate about the Beach and this project.
“Her hands were on the design until the last moment,” said Gustavo Berenblum.
The final version of the design met the city’s budget, with a cost of about $24 million. But commissioners did not like the pared-down design. The plaza was smaller, the garage housed fewer parking spaces, retail space was reduced and much of the flare and panache of the original design was stripped down or removed altogether.
There’s a point when you start cutting that you lose the essence.
Gustavo Berenblum, principal of local architecture firm Berenblum Busch, who had partnered with Zaha Hadid on the project
Commissioner Joy Malakoff was displeased with the addition of ground-floor parking that was visible from the street.
“That’s unacceptable to me,” she said.
Berenblum said he thought one of the earlier versions priced at $29 million was a happy medium that didn’t sacrifice key design elements, but lowering the price means cutting some features.
“There’s a point when you start cutting that you lose the essence,” he said.
The commission voted to start over and solicit new proposals for a garage that would incorporate some workforce housing above it.