Museum of Latin American Immigrants

Miami Pier Museum

  • category:
  • location: South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA
  • Site area: 16100 sqm
  • Construction area: 6650 sqm


Miami Pier Museum of Latin American Immigrants
Exhibited during the 13th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice – La Biennale di Venezia entitled “Common Ground”
Nominated for the Best Building of the Year 2011 Award on the World Architecture Festival WAF in Barcelona

A pragmatic design – to commemorate & resist

A horizontal museum
The building aspires to become a horizontal monument to all the immigrants who arrived on these shores in the past and a symbol emphasizing the dynamic multicultural image of this city nowadays.

It is situated directly on the coastline of the South Beach in Miami FL, USA on the axis of one of the main streets in the city. Built to symbolize the turbulent trials of immigration and the furies of the sea that brought the immigrants to Florida, the building is symbolic and artful in its reflection of the struggles of Miami’s immigrants.

The exterior’s twists symbolize the complicated emotions involved with leaving a motherland and coming to a land of opportunity. Simultaneously, the building’s interior features twisting elevations, reminding visitors of the effort needed and hills that are climbed in the immigration process.

The functional arrangement of the interior of the building makes references to the experience and feelings that accompanied the Latin American Immigrants during their dramatic journey. Visitors get to know their history not only through displays and showcases, but mainly by the feeling of the space.

The form
The shape of the proposed museum comes from the analysis of connotations between two phenomenons that are crucial in this location. The first is the migration of Latin American Immigrants. The external form of the object will symbolise the stages and emotions associated with this process and emphasise its dramatic fate. The divisions on the elevation and the twisting of the entire form will resemble the enormous effort and the difficulties that various groups of people had to overcome. Irregular aggressive shapes, visible from a distance will remind of their tragic history. The second factor that played an important role in the formation of the building was the unique relationship with its coastal environment.

The hurricanes that appear in cycles in this region were also an important inspiration for the external expression of the form. The elevation resembles a large sea wave, generating a dynamic character associated with the shape of the building that emphasises its importance in the area.

Extreme location
The building, situated on the coast line, on the axis of one of the main streets in the city, honors and mimics the sea that brought immigrants from Latin America and the extreme weather that affects it, naming the hurricanes a major inspiration for the museum. The building itself resembles a giant wave and is positioned on a pier over the ocean to resist to the very force it resembles: construction materials that are resistant to high winds and water will be used, and the aerodynamic design itself seeks to protect the museum and its content from South Florida’s extreme weather.

Aerodynamics & modularity
The external form was designed in an aerodynamical way to absorb the major forces of the wind throughout the turbulent climatic conditions of the year. This diversified form was constructed on the basis of a module that allows the unification of design components.

Resistance to hurricane loads
The design itself seeks to protect the building and its content from South Florida’s extreme weather. Since the museum carries out activities throughout the whole year, the structure and installations have been adapted to abnormal changing climatic conditions. The building is designed to minimize possible major forces of the winds and waves. For this purpose, the most appropriate facade materials were chosen to promote aerodynamics and the building structure was formed in a resistant way to high winds and water loads.

Interior spacial design
The spatial anatomy, along with various exhibitions, create large ascending areas covered with a twisting roof, spaces that evoke an endlessness, emptiness and nature of the sea, which accompanied immigrants during the entire crossing. Meant to be not only a celebration of new opportunity but also a space of somber remembrance of past struggles, the building features such rooms as a “contemplation terrace,” where visitors can look out onto the sea in reflection.

A sustainable design
The external shell made out of ETFE cushions is recyclable and easily replaceable without extra material losses during it’s production. The PV cells formed in a pattern which are densified in areas with high solar exposure, gather energy required for the ETFE cushion pumps and act as a shadowing mechanism.

Cooperating with nature
With the average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius throughout the whole year, one of the most important issues is overheating. The location features frequent sea breezes and sea water that are used to cool down the outer shell and internal spaces.