Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Renderings, Details Revealed for The Center for Arts & Innovation in Boca Raton

It’s been six years in the making, and on Friday morning, the team behind The Center for Arts & Innovation gave Boca Raton a sneak peek into what’s to come.

Gathering at the Boca Museum of Art, the center’s chairperson and CEO, Andrea Virgin, told the attendees that if fundraising goes to plan, a groundbreaking can be expected in late 2025 or early 2026 with an opening in 2029.

“We’re moving away from trying to retain audiences to acquiring news ones,” she told the crowd. “We’re moving away from exclusive venues that only cater to a certain class of people to being very inclusive. We’re moving from infrastructure that’s passive to being active, and we’re moving away from infrastructure that is just focused on human capital and instead trying to produce a community of talent.”

Virgin was joined by Antoine Chaaya, partner-in-charge at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Joshua Dachs, principal-in-charge for Fisher Dachs & Associates.

Main entry into the Edith & Martin Stein Public Lobby from The Piazza. (Courtesy RPBW)

The team at The Center for Arts & Innovation presented both renderings and wooden models of a three-story building consisting of a “main venue” that can be used for performance and exhibition space, which melts into an outdoor amphitheater area dubbed The Piazza for larger gatherings. The third floor will be a rooftop terrace with food and drink options; using 100,000 square feet of “hybrid photovoltaic solar connectors,” the high tech roof will be able to generate electricity as well as heat water.

Jutting from the roof will also be a 100-person panoramic bubble called the Belvedere, providing visitors with a 360-degree view of the city; Chaaya said the Belvedere was inspired by a ballerina, suspended between the earth and the sun.

Other plans for The Center for Arts & Innovation: sun covers, indoor and outdoor live music (and a way to do them simultaneously), gala and banquet space, galleries, fashion shows, co-working spaces, a startup incubator, underground parking, and more.

“What’s really exciting about this is it’s not single use, single purpose,” Virgin says.

Rather, the spaces will be flexible to be transformed from traditional arts events—say, a ballet or musical—to experimental events such as drone shows, robot wars, or immersive art installations.

The team emphasized that the new plans would have the same area and capacity as the current event space at the Mizner Park Amphitheatre.

“We are taking that same footprint and using the exact same footprint, so it’s not any smaller; it’s exactly the same space that [vendors are] familiar with today, but instead of orienting itself to the north… we’re going to reorient toward east,” says Dachs.

The view from The Belvedere, a 100-person space that will have 360-degree views. (Courtesy RPBW)

But over those three years of construction, what will happen to events such as the Festival of the Arts Boca, Battle of the Bands, concerts, and other happenings?

“It’s imperative for us to be good partners,” Virgin says. “We’re going to work with them to find alternatives.”

The Center for Arts & Innovation is designed by Renzo Piano, a Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect who only takes on two or three new projects each year—worldwide. Coinciding with the release of the plans was the opening of a retrospective exhibition of his work, “Renzo Piano and RPBW: Le Fil Rouge of Contemporary Architecture.” The 50-year display of his work spotlights projects such as The New York Times Building, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the California Academy of Science in San Francisco, The Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, École Normale Supérieure in Paris-Saclay, France, and the Children’s Surgical Hospital in Entebbe, Uganda. The exhibit has only visited two other cities in the United States—Los Angeles and New York City—and it will be on display through May 20.

Donors are still being courted and a price tag for the campus has not been shared yet, but funding so far has come from those like James & Marta Batmasian Family Foundation, Elizabeth H. Dudley the Kent Jordan Family, the Schmidt Family Foundation, The Edith & Martin Stein Family Foundation and Andrea Virgin.

Christiana Lilly
Christiana Lilly
Christiana Lilly is the editor in chief of at Boca magazine, where she enjoys putting a spotlight on the Boca Raton and Palm Beach County community through both print and digital. Previously, she was the company's web editor. An award-winning journalist, she is the past president of the Society of Professional Journalists Florida chapter and a proud graduate of the University of Florida.

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