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The dormant plan to create a Miami home for monumental sculptures by two revered contemporary artists is being revived.
Fairholme Unlimited, a nonprofit foundation funded by the Miami-based Fairholme mutual fund, has appointed Miami architect Rene Gonzalez to design a showcase building for a 180-foot-long sculpture by Richard Serra, and a James Turrell light sculpture that previously drew record crowds to New York’s Guggenheim. The works — valued by experts at $25 million to $30 million — will be part of a collection permanently displayed and open to the public in the Edgewater neighborhood of downtown, said Chloe Berkowitz, foundation president.
“We really see this as a gift to the city,” said Berkowitz, whose father, Bruce Berkowitz, leads the Fairholme Fund. “I’ve seen how Miami has grown, and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the city.” Entry to the space will be free, she said.
The announcement came at the beginning of Miami Art Week, when major collectors from around the world come to the city for Art Basel’s Miami Beach fair and a whirlwind of other fairs and events.
In 2014, the Berkowitz family submitted plans designed by Arquitectonica for an unconventional anvil-shaped building in translucent concrete that was intended to house both the art and the Fairholme Fund’s offices. City planners deemed the design out of sync with the Miami 21 zoning code. The family reshaped the design for land at 26th Street and Biscayne Boulevard but eventually pulled the plan off the table.
The younger Berkowitz, 24, who studied art history at the University of Miami, has made the project her mission. She enlisted a board of directors that includes experts in construction, interiors and art — including former Sotheby’s executive Gabriela Palmieri and Miami collector and arts executive Dennis Scholl — as her advisers.
Said Scholl, “This is an incredible gift to our city, to have one of the best Serra pieces ever made and one of the best Turrell pieces ever made in a building by a world-class architect.”
Chloe Berkowitz simplified the building’s purpose, narrowing it to a public viewing space for Serra’s “Passage of Time,” which has been stored in shipping containers since its arrival from Qatar several years ago, and Turrell’s “Aten Reign.” Other conceptual works in the growing collection include a Pat Sier painting, “Monk Akko Meditating Waterfall,” now on loan to the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, and Larry Bell’s five-panel glass installation, “Standing Walls.”
The Fairholme space will also host programs and rotating exhibitions, she said.
The design is still in the concept phase, and plans have not yet been submitted to the city. Berkowitz said she hopes to break ground in 2018.
The project is being designed around the two central artworks, said Gonzalez. The undulating Serra sculpture is 12 feet high, stretches almost 200 feet and weighs 600,000 pounds. The Turrell requires a rotunda 100 feet high.
“Richard Serra and James Turrell have been major sources of inspiration for me,” said Gonzalez, who also worked on the redesign of the CIFO Art Space in downtown. “To be able to build for the work of these people I’ve been thinking about since college is very special.”
As for that oft-asked question, Does Miami need another art space?, Scholl pointed to the city’s maturation over the past few years. “We have shown a willingness to continue to enjoy, appreciate and celebrate contemporary art in this community. We are growing so rapidly and becoming so cosmopolitan that I think we can support all of these institutions.”