The National YoungArts Foundation has announced the acquisition of the historic Bacardi Tower and Museum complex in downtown Miami, which it plans to convert into a new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters.
According to the Miami Herald, YoungArts bought the 3.3-acre site for $10 million — well below the estimated market value of $20 million — after nine months of discussions with Bacardi USA. Lin Arison, who established YoungArts with her husband Ted in 1981 and sold paintings in 2010 by Claude Monet and Amedeo Modigliani to help support the organization's program expansion and acquisition of property, said she envisions the new campus as a place where visual arts by the organization's alumni will be displayed year-round and attract visitors to the nearby Wynwood arts district.
According to the organization, Gehry's plan for the complex will preserve the features of the blue and white-tiled tower and stained-glass "Jewel Box" buildings, while creating a multidisciplinary arts center and outdoor park with state-of-the-art video projection capabilities and arts programming for the benefit of the community. "It's not only a milestone in Miami's evolution as a cultural community, I think it'll be a powerful magnet for talent for decades to come," said Alberto Ibarg�en, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has supported YoungArts over the years. "The whole thing just strikes me as perfect for a cultural center for this town."
The organization also is planning to expand its activities beyond Miami, including a series of year-round events in New York City, creating a Los Angeles version of Miami's YoungArts Week, and bolstering its presence in Washington, D.C., where it is the only nominating agency for the President's Scholars in the Arts award. Earlier this year, the organization added a tenth discipline — architecture and design — to its lineup of program offerings, which include cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice, and writing. Its expansion plans coincide with the naming of Gehry, singer Pl�cido Domingo, and dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones as artistic advisors.
"It's all coming together at once," said Arison. "Once people get in here, they're going to own it....The kids are going to own it, the mentors are going to own it, and hopefully the community is going to own it."