Museum of Contemporary Art about to triple exhibit space
By Marilyn Bowden
Schematics for the expansion of North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA, have been approved by the city, and the project is now entering the drawing and permitting process, said Executive Director Bonnie Clearwater.
"We will establish a date for the groundbreaking once we have gone through that process," she said.
North Miami Mayor Andre D. Pierre said the museum is unique in that it is a department of the City of North Miami, while it also maintains its autonomy as a
The estimated cost of the overall project is $13.5 million, a spokesperson for the museum said, to be funded by a variety of public and private sources. MOCA is to soon launch a capital and endowment campaign that will include naming opportunities for the new building. Funding for the concept plan phase was provided by MOCA Board Chairman Michael Collins and his wife Sandy.
The city requires LEED certification for all new buildings, Ms. Clearwater said. After a meeting last week to review the new design's potential for achieving certification, she said, "It looks like we might already have enough points to qualify for LEED Silver."
Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman & Associates, the original architects of MOCA's Joan Lehmann Building, also designed the expansion. The completed structure, totaling 54,000 square feet, will triple the museum's exhibition space, Ms. Clearwater said. It will also house a new education wing for the MOCA Art Institute, which offers a unified curriculum that progressively builds knowledge and skills from primary-school level through adulthood.
Last year, MOCA was awarded a three-year, $300,000 Knight Foundation Challenge Grant for the institute's youth education programs.
"We've already matched it for all three years," Ms. Clearwater said. "This will help us prepare even more for the expansion."
The new space incorporates a number of interesting details, she said. One is a 20,000-square-foot roof sculpture garden. A new entrance through the center of the completed building will create an atrium connected with the staircase and the elevator.
"The current lobby entrance will be the entrance into the education wing," she said. "The new second floor is lifted by columns and creates large shaded areas in the courtyard. That's a very desirable element. For example, there will be seating for 400 for Jazz at MOCA, which will still be held outside but will now be covered."
North Miami officials, Ms. Clearwater said, want to make the museum "the heart of the city," a concept given some traction by the establishment of an organic farmers market in MOCA Plaza every Thursday from December through March.
"MOCA has proven itself to be a catalyst for positive growth in North Miami," Mayor Pierre said. "In its first 15 years, MOCA has provided North Miami with a direction and focus on the arts that has not only projected our city onto the global art scene but has also sparked a renaissance of development in the City's downtown business corridor. I look forward to the next 15 years of growth that MOCA's expansion will spur."
Ms. Clearwater said all but 20 of 450 available seats for MOCA's 15th anniversary celebration, coming up Feb. 25, were sold before formal invitations went out. Attendees represent a microcosm of the international art world, she said, including New York galleries, Christie's, and nearly all the artists who have has solo shows there over the years.
"They're all coming because of the impact we've had on the international art world," Ms. Clearwater said, "and on the careers of these artists."
On the following day, a series of conversations with artists is to be open to the public, Ms. Clearwater said. Ticket purchases can be made online, and the event will also be streamed live.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is at 770 NE 125th St., North Miami. Details: (305) 893-6211 or www.mocanomi.org.
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