Opening on Oct. 17, the Coral Gables Museum will present “Concrete Paradise: Miami Marine Stadium,” an original exhibition devoted to Miami Marine Stadium’s flashy past, its edgy present, and its spectacular proposed comeback as a worldclass sports and performance venue.
Curated by renowned author and architectural conservator, Rosa Lowinger, this interactive exhibit will bring the glory days of Miami’s most daringly modern structure back to life through stunning video footage, rare photos and keepsakes, original art installations, photo murals of the stadium’s infamous graffiti, and an antique hydroplane.
It will conclude with a special section dedicated to the stadium’s next chapter featuring never-before-seen site renderings and opportunities for museum visitors to share their vision for the structure’s future. The exhibition is being presented by American Express.
“This exhibition is an ode to an extraordinary, Cuban-influenced building that is celebrated for its modern-day edginess, but also manages to be serenely beautiful and quietly inspiring,” Lowinger said. “I’ve been fortunate to experience so many amazing places in my career in conservation, and I truly believe that the stadium is our city’s Eiffel Tower. As we like to say, ‘It’s so Miami.’”
“Concrete Paradise” will begin with a special opening party on Oct. 17 that will feature exclusive tours, outdoor performances by Parkour gymnasts, ambient light installations, and video projections of the stadium. Throughout its run at the museum, a full schedule of special events, tours, and lectures will be offered to the general public, allowing visitors to learn more about one of Miami’s most fascinating historic landmarks.
Tickets for the opening party are $25 and are available by calling 305-603-8067 or visiting <www.CoralGablesMuseum.org>.
Additional support for the exhibition is being provided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Friends of the Marine Stadium.
“The Coral Gables Museum is proud to tell the intriguing story of Miami Marine Stadium,” said Christine Rupp, director of the Coral Gables Museum. “Most people in Miami are aware of the stadium because of its prominent location on Biscayne Bay, but due to its closure in 1992, newcomers and young adults have no experience with it as an active venue. This exhibit will create that experience, engaging visitors with the building and showing them the importance of preserving not just the stadium, but Miami’s unique sense of place.”
Designed in 1962 by 27-year-old architect Hilario Candela, then a recent immigrant from Cuba, the 6,566-seat stadium is a marvel of design and engineering. With a football field-length roofline that was the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was built, the stadium was designed for watching speedboat racing at a time when Miami was the epicenter of the sport. The stadium also hosted stars like Gloria Estefan, Jimmy Buffett, Dave Brubeck, the Beach Boys, and Ray Charles on its dramatic floating stage. Flamboyant enough to serve as a set for Elvis Presley’s film Clambake, it was also majestic enough to host religious services and political rallies.
“This dynamic exhibit will bring Miami Marine Stadium back to life for a new generation of Miami residents,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“The National Trust named Miami Marine Stadium one of our National Treasures because it is a highly inspirational masterwork of civic architecture that served as a community gathering place for generations of Miamians. Though it has been closed for over 20 years, this exhibit will demonstrate the thriving future that awaits this iconic place.”
This year, American Express was named the Presenting Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Treasures program. National Treasures are threatened buildings, neighborhoods, communities, and landscapes that stand at risk across the country. Miami Marine Stadium was added to this growing portfolio of sites last year. American Express is pledging $2 million to help promote and enable the preservation of these endangered cultural and historic places, including Miami Marine Stadium.
Though shuttered since 1992, Miami’s architectural jewel has continued to be a focal point for cutting-edge artistic expression. Graffiti artists and skateboarders have turned its ramps and raw concrete expanses into one of the nation’s most important venues for street art. Contemporary artists, engineering scholars, architects, photographers, and designers continue to be mesmerized and influenced by its soaring roofline and panoramic water views.