Renzo Piano, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect behind major museums around the world including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Centre Pompidou, has been tapped to design a new cultural complex in Boca Raton, Florida. The planned Center for Arts and Innovation, which will sit next to the Boca Raton Museum of Art, shared news of the partnership today, in what its chair and chief executive, Andrea Virgin, described as an “historic announcement” five years in the making.
“The international interest and ultimate selection of one of the world’s greatest design architects underscores not only the global significance of this project, but the enormity of our supporters’ courage, vision and generosity,” Virgin said in a statement.
Officially launched in 2018, the Center for Arts and Innovation is envisioned not only as a hub for the performing arts—including dance, immersive theatre and orchestral music—but also as an incubator of experimentation, complete with spaces intended for budding entrepreneurs and educational programming focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).
The $115m campus hopes to be a gamechanger for downtown Boca Raton, filling what Virgin has described as a “60-mile gap” in cultural facilities along Florida’s Gold Coast between two long-standing centres for the performing arts. A professional ballerina turned civil engineer, Virgin developed the idea for the centre shortly after joining the board at Boca Ballet Theatre, seeing an opportunity to upgrade an old amphitheatre and parcel of land near the art museum.
In October 2022, the City of Boca Raton approved a 94-year ground lease of 1.8 acres of land at $1 per year. Virgin and her team are now fundraising to realise the project. According to the Coastal Star, they received $14m as well as pledges for an additional $25m as of November 2022. The project is expected to break ground in 2025.
Piano’s firm, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), which takes on only two projects every year, was one of 22 privately invited architecture firms vying for the project; Rotterdam-based OMA, New York-based Ennead and London-based Foster + Partners were among the shortlisted finalists. The building will be RPBW’s first cultural campus in South Florida.
“The Center has the promise of providing access to creativity, innovation, educational opportunities, inspiration and resources to inspire a new wave of entrepreneurs, creators and ideas,” Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer said in a statement. “The ripple effect of the Center into the community and beyond bodes well for our future.”