The campaign to preserve and restore Miami Marine Stadium got a boost on April 28, when a design competition for a floating stage to compliment the stadium was held at the University of Miami. Back in the 1960s, when the stadium was built, a flat-topped barge with demountable band shell was pulled up in front of the 6,500-seat waterside grandstand for a variety of productions including concerts. When the barge was not in use, it was docked in a special berth across the basin from the stadium. During the years when the stadium was abandoned, the barge rusted away and eventually sank.
Fast-forward to 2011: The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium thought that a competition would spark some creative ideas about what a stage might look like (and what might happen on it), beyond the simple barge of yore. And it did!
More than 90 entries from around the world were received and judged by a jury including Hilario Candela, the original architect of the stadium; Jorge Hernandez, a Miami architect and trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Larry Scarpa, a Los Angeles architect; Walter Meyer, a New York City landscape Architect; Michele Oka Doner, a New York- and Miami-based artist, and myself, representing World Monuments Fund.
The winner of the competition, announced at a dinner held on May 2, was dubbed the “Miami Pearl,” a glowing sphere which can open up in a variety of fashions to provide a “stage on a half-shell” or a sunken stage on a floating disk, and which, when cloned, would result in a string of pearls floating throughout Biscayne Bay. The imaginative winning team, Abingo Wu Studio, was from landlocked Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Miami Pearl was joined by 4 other prize winners, ranging from “Inflatable,” a mushroom-like, circular balloon hovering over a round floating stage, reminiscent of the spaceship in “ET”; “Water Box” a rectangular stage surrounded by walls of water descending from a luminous roof; a lotus-like invention whose petals open to reveal a stage and also serve as a skate-board park; and a series of floating pylons that can nest around a stage in various configurations or can sail off by themselves as ambassadors of the stadium.
All in all, the competition resulted in an inspirational group of submissions that will surely fire the imaginations of Miamians and others as to the potential of the Marine Stadium in years to come.