After years of planning and widespread community support, the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science broke ground on Feb. 24 in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the museum’s new site overlooking Biscayne Bay, marking the continuation of Miami’s rise as one of the world’s most culturally rich cities. The groundbreaking event marks the beginning of construction, with the new museum scheduled to open to the public by early 2015.
“Great cities are home to top tier museums,” said Trish and Dan Bell, co-chairs of the museum’s board of trustees. “The new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will elevate Miami into this rank while contributing to the city’s emergence as a major international destination for culture and innovation.
“Our new building should serve as a delightful gathering place for residents and visitors, and we look forward to the museum greatly enhancing the motivation for science and technology education in the community. It will also be an outstanding economic and architectural asset for the city.”
Designed by internationally recognized Grimshaw Architects, the 250,000-squarefoot complex will be among the world’s most innovative and sustainable science museums. According to Grimshaw — which received the AIA National Honor Award for its design of the Horno: Museo del Acero in Monterrey, Mexico — the museum is intended to act as a demonstration of ecological and sustainability principles. The building will harness energy from water, sun, wind and even museum visitors to power exhibits and conserve resources.
The museum is structured around a lushly landscaped indoor and outdoor “living core” of terrestrial and aquatic spaces, featuring a 600,000 gallon aquarium facility, a full dome 3-D planetarium, interactive exhibits, innovative technology and two additional wings of exhibition space, learning center and cafes.
As construction on the new facility begins, support from the public and private sectors for the museum’s capital campaign remains strong.
In 2004, $165 million was approved by voters, through the Miami-Dade County’s Building Better Communities bond program, to support design and construction. In March 2011, Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost committed $35 million to the museum, the largest single contribution in the institution’s history. The gift has served as a springboard for additional private sector support.
In January 2012, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation committed a challenge grant of $10 million. To date, the museum has secured approximately $70 million of its $100 million private fundraising goal.
“The construction of this museum will be remembered as the beginning of a new era for Miami — characterized by an emphasis on technology and all that it adds to our quality of life,” said Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost, name donors of the museum. “We are proud that it will be a major cornerstone in the development of this new reputation.”
The groundbreaking ceremony featured remarks by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools Alberto Carvalho, as well as Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost, Dan and Trish Bell, and Miami Science Museum president Gillian Thomas.
“Groundbreaking at Museum Park is certainly an exciting moment for us, but even more exciting are the new learning opportunities being created both during construction and, of course, after opening,” Thomas said. “Every aspect of the building, its exhibits and facilities has potential for enjoyable learning, opening doors to new ideas, new opportunities, and new careers.
Thomas added that the museum currently serves from 30,000 to 50,000 school children on an annual basis, with this number expected to double when it moves into its new location at Museum Park. For information about the current museum or its future home, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, visit www.miasci. org/blog or call 305-646-4200.