Barozzi Veiga's Design for Oolite Arts Unveiled

John Hill
12. April 2022
Image courtesy of Oolite Arts

Created in 1984 as ArtCenter/South Florida and now going by the name Oolite Arts, the arts organization's new home will be located at 75 NW 72nd Street in Miami, which they describe as "a burgeoning arts district" that is "close to many artist studios, homes, and galleries." Oolite Arts selected Barozzi Veiga, the studio of Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga, in February 2020. The studio is working on this, their first built project in the United States, with Charles H. Benson & Associates, the local architect on the project.

Image courtesy of Oolite Arts
"We understand architecture as a background for life or work. We try to give the artist the best conditions to work. And that means finding this balance between a very intimate space, which is represented by the studio, and a space for community life, which is part of Oolite’s DNA."

Fabrizio Barozzi

Image courtesy of Oolite Arts

Renderings for the new building show a low-slung mass that is sympathetic to its low-rise context but stands out from it through dozens of vertical projections that are intended to function as skylights, solar chimneys, wind catchers, and water tanks. The building's numerous program spaces — studios, galleries, theater, classrooms, maker space, print studio, offices — are oriented around an internal courtyard envisioned as an "unexpected oasis" and "a new kind of public space in the neighborhood." Openings in the perimeter of the rectangular building provide access to the courtyard, an effort on the part of Oolite Arts to reach out to the neighborhood and "encourage community activity."

Image courtesy of Oolite Arts
"We wanted the project to be a surprise for the artists and the community. Behind this opaque concrete wall, you don't expect to have such an exuberant garden. This can create a kind of beautiful surprise when you discover the interior."

Fabrizio Barozzi

Image courtesy of Oolite Arts

With its smooth concrete surfaces, vegetation, outdoor spaces, accessible rooftop, and clear effort in connecting to its surroundings, Barozzi Veiga's design for Oolite Arts is reminiscent of their earlier design for the Tanzhaus Zürich. This writer, with his World-Architects colleagues, got a tour of the Tanzhaus ahead of its September 2019 opening. One of the strongest impressions was the site-specific nature of the plan, particularly the way it integrated public pathways in front of the building and vertical access through the terraced building topped by a planted roof. If the elements of Oolite Arts carry through to construction as envisioned, the building in Miami should be as successful as the one in Zurich.

Image courtesy of Oolite Arts
"I think that if we succeed with this balance between a calm atmosphere for artists that can be open and can be shared with the citizens of the neighborhood, the building will succeed."

Alberto Veiga

Image courtesy of Oolite Arts

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