In downtown Miami, the Bacardi Building– yes, that Bacardi- has a new friend: Frank Gehry. The Bacardi Building is actually two buildings: a tower building with enormous mosaics by Brazillian artist Francisco Brennand and a smaller museum building with stunning stained glass walls. Even though the buildings have been around since the sixties and seventies, the future of the complex has been unclear since Bacardi moved from their downtown home to nearby Coral Gables in 2009.
But now the complex has been sold to the YoungArts Foundation who has promised to keep the complex intact and hired Frank Gehry to help. His job will be to renovate the complex into something more functional for an organization devoted to “identifying and supporting the next generation of artists” without defacing the landmarked exteriors of the complex. The folks who started the YoungArts Foundation are the same folks who helped start the New World Symphony and hired Gehry to build the New World Center just a few years ago. But the results in downtown Miami will not be the same as they were in Miami Beach and Gehry’s work there to develop a new masterplan for the foundation will not interrupt the visual legacy of the site.
Here is a video of Tito Bacardi, who passed away in 2011, giving a tour of the complex. He talks about the carpet in the building, surprising aerial branding strategies, the Bacardi Cup and his favorite part of the building: the bar.