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Miami Symphony hall
The 757-seat main hall of the symphony [Photo: Cesar Nuñez]

The $160-million, Frank Gehry-designed New World Symphony campus, inaugurated last month, gives Miami Beach’s iconic orchestral academy a custom-built home and creates another architectural landmark for the city’s Lincoln Road pedestrian mall area.

The building is more rectangular than a typical Gehry building, harmonizing with Miami Beach’s existing architecture while retaining elements of the curving-sails style of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and his other creations. It sits at the center of a new two-block campus just off Lincoln Road, with a Gehry-designed parking garage (his first) on one side and a new park on the other. On the building’s side is a seven-story projection wall where the symphony will broadcast everything from live concerts to video murals.

Miami Symphony hall
The new building has 26 coaching rooms and six ensemble rooms.
[Photo: Rui Dias-Aidos/Redav]

The entire campus is the result of a nearly decade-long collaboration between the city — which owns all the land, the garage and the park — and the non-profit New World Symphony, which owns and operates its building and leases the land from the city for $1 a year. “We see the relationship with the New World Symphony like a public-private partnership,” says Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez, who oversees cultural and tourism development.

The city spent $30 million on the park and garage and gave the symphony $15 million toward its building. Miami-Dade County provided another $30 million for the symphony building, and the symphony raised the rest through private contributions. “We enter the building with all the costs covered,” says New World Symphony CEO Howard Herring.

The city and county say an important part of the project will be students who will come from all over the world to attend “America’s Orchestral Academy.” Herring likens the symphony to a physician’s residency: Musicians who have already earned their degrees are invited for a three-year fellowship, during which they develop their musical skills and their ability to interact with the community.

Just as important, Herring says, the symphony is teaching Miamians about classical music and building audiences for the art form.