Designs Revealed for Nonprofit Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation’s Permanent Home in Miami

When a new Miami art space opens in 2023, drivers along the Edgewater stretch of Biscayne Boulevard won’t even have to leave their cars for a glimpse of a monumental sculpture by one of the world’s most revered contemporary artists.

Designs for the Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation released Monday show an inviting design for the foundation’s 45,000-square-foot public art space, created to house two monumental sculptures by two seminal contemporary artists, Richard Serra and James Turrell.

The plan treats Serra’s 180-foot-long undulating sculpture as a “storefront” protected by a glass wall that can be seen by drivers and pedestrians. An adjacent concrete canopy covers the entrance to the interior art space that will house a massive James Turrell light sculpture, “Aten Reign.” The work, which drew record crowds to New York’s Guggenheim in 2013, requires an 80-foot-high rotunda.

The works — valued by experts at $25 to $30 million — are part of a collection that will be permanently displayed and open to the public for free, according to foundation president Chloe Berkowitz. The space is being designed by Miami’s Rene Gonzalez Architects.

“Rene and I are trying to create a different experience for people,” said Berkowitz. “We’re trying to create a meditative space, where people can take a break from the day, relax and think and contemplate….My dream and hope is it can be almost like a beacon of safety for people.”

The design incorporates a public plaza where visitors can interact with Serra’s “Passage of Time.” Said Berkowitz, “We wanted to debunk the idea this is an unreachable place for any person. In some art museums, people can still get intimidated or overwhelmed. For me, it was important the people feel welcomed.”

For Gonzalez, the aim was to create “a civic building that elevates the spirit and engages the community…It opens up Biscayne Boulevard by creating a public plaza and having the building itself hover over that plaza.”

The new designs have been shown to various City of Miami officials but have not yet been officially submitted. Berkowitz hopes to break ground in 2020 and open in 2023.

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 initial plans designs by Arquitectonica for an unconventional, anvil-shaped building in translucent concrete that was intended to house both the art and offices. City planners deemed the design out of sync with the Miami 21 zoning code. The concept was reshaped in 2017 with a focus on the art space.

The privately funded art center and the works within are supported by the Fairholme Foundation run by Berkowitz’s parents, Tracey and Bruce Berkowitz, who manages the Fairholme mutual fund. The family and company are based in Miami. The art foundation previously bore the name Fairholme but was renamed as Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation to reduce confusion.