Although Miami Beach is famous for its Art Deco buildings, Miami and its environs boast a wide range of architectural styles, from Mediterranean to Spanish Colonial to bold, modern angularity. Happily, some of the most notable examples are open to the public. We’ve selected five of the city’s top venues where you can enjoy art, science, history, music, and more—once you’ve taken in the soaring spaces and thrilling sightlines, of course. —by Drew Limsky
Now a National Historic Landmark, the former estate of industrialist and conservationist James Deering is the perfect example of a successful marriage of the formal European aesthetic and the sultry subtropical environment. Under the guidance of design director Paul Chalfin, the vast villa and grounds emerged a century ago as a Mediterranean Revival stunner set on the water in Coconut Grove. The site offers tours and serves as an event space and frequent film location.
When he set out to design a concert hall just north of Lincoln Road in 2011, legendary architect Frank Gehry wanted to respect South Beach’s midcentury aesthetic. So he eschewed the metallic, aquatic look of his famous designs in Los Angeles and Bilbao. Instead, he completed a regularized facade of whitewash and glass and put the surprises inside—an interior composed of the master’s signature curves and fishtail forms. Just as acclaimed is the center’s adjacent SoundScape Park, a beloved outdoor entertainment space said to contain North America’s largest permanent projection screen.
Not only did philanthropist Adrienne Arsht donate $30 million to transform the downtown Carnival Center into a world-class performing arts complex in 2008; she also tapped the renowned César Pelli to design it. The Argentine-American architect, whose credits include the World Financial Center in New York City and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, created an unmistakably modern landmark composed of white and glass facades. Set at conflicting angles, they bring to mind sails as imagined by a cubist.
When PAMM opened five years ago, something auspicious happened beyond a simple museum launch.The edifice—with its hanging gardens, light look, and elegant canopy—marked a giant leap forward in Miami’s bid to become an international cultural center. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Pritzker Prize-winning firm responsible for London’s Tate Modern, PAMM carries the name of its biggest benefactor, billionaire Miami developer Jorge M. Pérez.
When the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) debuted in 2013, everyone knew the campus wouldn’t be complete until the planned Frost Museum, to be designed by Grimshaw Architects, materialized next door. At last the white globe of a 250-seat planetarium rose over downtown in 2017. A few months later the museum itself finally threw open its doors, revealing a 250,000-square-foot science and learning center. A three-level indoor-outdoor aquarium serves as the living, breathing emotional core of the museum.