Written by Don Worth
The Miami Marine Stadium, built in 1963 and designed by Cuban-American architect Hilario Candela, has been the subject of a fierce preservation battle. The 6,566 seat Marine Stadium was built for boat racing and is known for its remarkable roof. Made up of a series of hyperbolic paraboloids, the roof was considered the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when constructed.
Shortly after the stadium opened, the City of Miami purchased a barge, using it as a floating stage for events such as classical and Rock concerts, Easter Sunrise services, political rallies, and Fourth of July services. The stadium was shuttered after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and has been the subject of many redevelopment schemes. The barge is sunk under a foot of water in the lagoon occupied by the stadium. Early versions of the Master Plan for Virginia Key – the island that the stadium is on – assumed demolition of the Marine Stadium.
In 2008, Friends of Miami Marine Stadium was formed under the administrative umbrella of Dade Heritage Trust to prevent demolition and restore the stadium. Since then, substantial progress has been made. The stadium was designated historic by the City of Miami in 2008 and was featured on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered List in 2009. The Marine Stadium was also named to the World Monuments Fund 2010 Watch List and was featured in a video endorsement by singer Jimmy Buffett, who performed there many times.
Thanks to the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium’s Floating Stage Design Contest, there is now considerable momentum behind the movement to restore the landmark waterfront stadium. Billed as an "ideas contest", the competition was held as a way to generate publicity and momentum for the restoration of the stadium, and was co-sponsored by Dade Heritage Trust, the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The winner and semi-finalists of the Miami Marine Stadium Floating Stage Design contest were announced at an Awards Dinner on May 2 at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant in Miami. 175 people attended and saw presentations by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Frank E. Sanchis III, Director of US Programs of the World Monuments Fund.
The contest attracted 90 contestant teams, including many international entries. The winning design – a floating stage in the shape of a pearl - was done by Abingo Wu Studio of Lincoln, Nebraska. The second place entry - which included a lighted helium disk as a cover - was designed by Cloud.DK Design of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Friends of Miami Marine Stadium has a presentation of the winning entries on their website .
Don Worth is the co-founder of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium.