Posted Oct. 22, 2012
By EMMA REYES
MIAMI, Fla. – Located in the heart of downtown Miami, with three main theaters, walls and floors adorned with artwork by José Bedia, Cundo Bermudez and Gary Moore, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is a must visit place.
The Arsht Center feature performances by the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony, and America’s Orchestral Academy,
The Center occupies two blocks of Biscayne Boulevard and is surrounded by main highways, public transportation and Miami landmarks like the Freedom Tower, American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace.
The facility stands on 5.9 acres of land donated by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Knight Ridder in mid-1991. Construction required five years to build what is considered to be a highly complex structure, according to Suzette Espinosa, assistant vice president of Public Relations at the Arsht Center.
The architects and builders, world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and theater planning and design consultant Joshua Dachs of Fisher Dachs Associates, Inc. and acoustician consultancy ARTEC, worked during that time to ensure that the Center had the best sound for each of its main theaters.
The Knight Concert Hall has the most pristine acoustics of any hall in the world and the Ziff Ballet Opera House has excellent sightlines and a high-tech stage area, according to Espinosa.
“Judging by the audience response and positive critical reviews, we have succeeded [that].”
Beatriz Sanz, who went to a concert of Gilberto Santa Rosa in the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, said the Center was enjoyable.
“The center is nice and welcoming. The staff is pleasant because they directed you to this area where you get drinks and appetizers before the concert starts. The building is art itself… it’s beautiful to look at.”
Melissa Quintana, who went to watch the Broadway Award-winning best musical, “The Lion King,” agreed with Sanz.
“My favorite part about “The Lion King” show was how the animals and characters came through the rows and flew above the audience. No matter where you sat you were able to feel apart of the show,” she said.
The Center has become a place where art lives and a place where the best or best go to showcase their talents.
“The Arsht Center has come to be known as Miami’s new Town Square, welcoming more than two million guests for more than 400 widely diverse performances each year,” said Espinosa.
The Center has three main theaters and a variety of private meeting rooms, rehearsal spaces and the outdoor Thompson Plaza for the Arts for visitors to enjoy.
The Sanford and Dolores Ballet Opera House home to Broadway in Miami and the Miami City Ballet holds 2,400 seats, the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall has 2,200 seats and is home of the Florida Grand Opera, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Florida, and is the platform for live hip-hop, classical and jazz music concerts all year round.
The Carnival Studio Theater, which is a flexible black-box space designed to 300 seats, hosts theater, dance and experimental performances about 44 weeks each year.
The center has other spaces where a guest can experience what the Arsht Center has to offer.
The Parker and Vann Thomson Plaza for the Arts is an outdoor social and performance space linking the two main houses across Biscayne Boulevard; the Carnival Tower, an architectural icon from one of Miami’s oldest Art Deco buildings, holds the street-level BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Lounge; and the Peacock Education Center, a 3,500 square-foot workshop and classroom space.
The Arsht Center is also equipped with public art installations by five outstanding artists commissioned by Miami-Dade Art in Public Places that display the artistic talents the center showcases all year long.
José Bedia designed the lobby floors and balcony railings in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House and John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall.
Bedia’s terrazzo floor murals are the centerpieces of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House and the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall lobbies.
The murals illustrate outstretched hands, which are a metaphor for applause and a welcoming sign for the visitors coming in to the center.
The hands serve as an iconic symbol for the Center; they reach across the plaza in a unifying gesture visually uniting the two buildings.
The engraved glass railings that Bedia designed are transparent and allow visitors to enjoy a better view of the terrazzo floors.
The glass railings of the Ziff Ballet Opera House are decorated with gold etchings to match the gold bands in the terrazzo floors and the engravings in the glass railings of the Knight Concert Hall are decorated in silver to match the silver bands in the terrazzo floor of that hall.
Cundo Bermudez designed Ways of Performing, a stunning 28-by-40 foot glass mosaic tile mural for the lobby of the Carnival Studio Theater in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House.
The colored semi-abstracted figures of entertainers and dancers preparing to perform float on the bright blue background of the mural. This is a symbol of music and performance highlighting the artistic process and backstage activities of the theater.
San Francisco-based artist Gary Moore designed Pharaoh’s Dance, a 6,400-square-foot art installation made of seating elements including a round raised platform lit in pink and purple neon that is used for outdoor performances, bronze medallions, a vibrant colored terrazzo and a planter of bamboo reeds.
The installation that connects the structures is Water Scores by Anna Valentina Murch. The installation is marble fountains and wavy benches that form a “collar” of flowing water around the elliptical Thomson Plaza for the Arts. This piece is a reminder to visitors of the location’s closeness to the ocean creating a reflective outdoor area.
New York-artist Robert Rahway Zakanitch has two pieces in the Center with the Hibiscus Grand Curtain in the Ziff Ballet Opera House and the Green Lace Scrim in the Knight Concert Hall.
Zakanitch created a painted velour curtain that serves as a centerpiece for the Ziff Ballet Opera House. The design is a symbol for the richness, depth and diversity of the South Florida cultural community.
The curtain has hibiscus flowers, palm fronds and other tropical forms creating an impressive backdrop for performers and a distinct signature image for the Ziff Ballet Opera House.
The Green Lace Scrim in the Knight Concert Hall is a semitransparent scrim that serves as a veil for the organ in the hall.
The scrim consists of multiple layers, enhances visual interest in the space and complements the wide variety of musical events that take place in the Knight Concert Hall.
The Center also just launched a visual art collection program called the Knight Masterworks Print Collection.
This is a program that will commission limited-edition prints to create a permanent art collection at the Center. The artists that will be taking part of this collection will obtain inspiration from the center’s diverse programming and the city’s cultural art scenery.
In the late 1990s, Ted Arison, founder and chairman emeritus of Carnival Corp., donated $10 million to the center and, to honor the gift, one of the Center’s main theaters was named after the company, the Carnival Concert Hall.
The center received another $10 million donation by Dr. Sanford L. Ziff, founder of Sunglass Hut International, and he was given the naming rights to the other main theater, Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House.
The Center opened it’s doors on October 2006 with a four-day celebration that included performances by its four resident companies, the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, as it’s known today, got renamed when Adrienne Arsht, a national business leader, philanthropist, and supporter of the Center since its inception, made a $30 million donation on Jan. 10, 2008.
Aside from the artworks, concerts, ballets and Broadway shows, the Center offers an upscale restaurant, PRELUDE by Barton G. It’s located on the second floor of the Ziff Ballet Opera House.
Former head bartender of the restaurant, Ray Tabares, expressed his favorite part about working in a place like The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
“I love the fact that I was a small part of cultural history in Miami. The center has given all of us in the greater Miami area a feel for the preforming right at our backyard without having to go all the way to Broadway. It’s a major sign that Miami is growing into its own little metropolis.”
IF YOU GO
- The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is located at 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla., 33132.
- The Center holds various shows from ballet, to concerts from orchestras to popular music artistes and theatrical performances. More than 300 performances are selected each year and are organized into series.
- Some of the series included in the performances are Broadway in Miami, Jazz Roots, the Masterworks Season, Miami Made Festival and the Center’s Summer Season.
- The Center also offers entertainment for the whole family with its Family Fest. This year, the event will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 This is a free event for the whole family will include performances by Miami Music Project’s ESMIA Youth Orchestra with a special grand finale joined by members of the ESMIA Children’s Orchestra and Miami Choral Academy, Voices United and the Young Contemporary Dance Theater.
- For information and this event and other event at the Arsht Center visit http://www.arshtcenter.org or by calling the box office at 305-949-6722.
- There is public transportation to get to the Center by taking the Metrorail to Government Center and transferring to the Omni Loop Metromover, which is headed towards the Performing Arts Center Station. The station is located one block from the Center and there are signs aboard the trains and at the stations and street level for the visitors’ convenience.
- There is valet parking and the visitors can purchase a valet parking vouchers in advance with his or her performance ticket on arshtcenter.org or by calling the box office at 305-949-6722.
- Free tours are held on Saturdays and Mondays at noon. No reservations are needed. The tour takes about an hour and begins in the lobby of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House.