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Design

Why Miami Beach Spent Big on Public Art

The city spent an unprecedented $7 million on a mural, sculptures, and other artworks around its newly renovated convention center.
Franz Ackermann's mural 'About Sand' adorns the exterior of the newly renovated convention center.
Franz Ackermann's mural 'About Sand' adorns the exterior of the newly renovated convention center.Robin Hill

In their quest to carve out a global footprint, cities are still betting on big buildings. In Miami Beach, the city and Miami-Dade County have invested in a massive $620 million makeover of the circa-1957 Miami Beach Convention Center. The final touch—an impressive program of public art—will be fully unveiled this month. The works chosen reflect the city’s understanding of how to build for the city while also building for the world.

A young city shaped by extreme forces, Miami is still in search of a unifying identity. As Alejandro Portes and Ariel C. Armony write in their book The Global Edge: Miami in the Twenty-First Century, “The city is no longer on edge due to the confrontation between rival ethnic powers, but it faces the prospect of an increasingly amorphous social order, splintered among different interests and to which no one really belongs.”