Wolfsonian-FIU Seeking Increase in Density to Expand Miami Beach Site

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Wolfsonian-FIU Seeking Increase in Density to Expand Miami Beach Site:

Proposed building would triple programming space, provide state-of-the-art classrooms

The Wolfsonian-Florida International University is proposing a renovation and 25,000 sq. ft. expansion of its existing museum on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. In order to do that, it will have to ask voters to allow an increase in Floor Area Ratio (FAR or density).

Wolfsonian-FIU has a $10 million allocation in the Miami-Dade County “Building Better Communities” General Obligation Bond approved by voters in November 2004. Specifically, the money is for the development of 25,000 square feet of new publicly accessible space for the Wolfsonian museum. In December, the County requested the University put forth a plan for the money for consideration by the end of calendar year 2020.

In a presentation prepared for the Miami Beach City Commission Land Use and Sustainability Committee, Wolfsonian-FIU notes, “The Wolfsonian properties do not have sufficient FAR" for an expansion. To get the additional space it needs, the University is proposing the establishment of a Wolfsonian Arts District and increasing the maximum FAR in the district from 1.5 to 3.25. The City Charter requires an increase in FAR go to the voters through referendum.

In its Master Plan presented to the County, Wolfsonian-FIU outlined the goals for the expansion and renovation including the tripling of programming space which would allow the museum to “substantially” increase the number of collections on view at any one time; “a visionary new street and lobby presence that eases potential barriers to entry and better integrates the museum into the neighborhood” and “state-of-the-art classrooms, studio environments, and a digital lab.”

The expansion would also establish “a new center for the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab, a multi-disciplinary FIU Emerging Preeminent Program that engages the public in civic and cultural life.”

The renderings below are noted by City Manager Jimmy Morales in a memorandum to the Land Use Committee as “preliminary illustrations that provide a visual representation of the expansion contemplated by the Wolfsonian.”

In the accompanying slide presentation, Wolfsonian-FIU states that, among other design guidance, it is proposing a building that is “Modest in dimension and scale” and “Respectful of the tenets of Historic Preservation & Resiliency.”

The proposal also needs to go to the Planning Board for review and then to the full City Commission for two readings and public hearings.

Should the proposal make it onto the ballot and be approved by voters, the design would ultimately need Historic Preservation Board approval.

Committee Memorandum and slide presentation here.

Update: This item was ultimately placed on the 2020 ballot.  Details here.

Concept renderings: Zyscovich Architects


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