The Center for Arts and Innovation has selected the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano to design its forthcoming multimillion-dollar creative campus, set to redefine downtown Boca Raton and establish a global hub for creative excellence. With Piano only accepting two to three new commissions a year, this partnership is a testament to The Center’s mission to transform Boca Raton into an internationally recognized destination for culture and technology, create a tremendous point of pride for residents, and reinvigorate the city’s rich history of innovation.
The Center will distinguish itself from any cultural venue across South Florida, encompassing versatile performance spaces, an innovation incubator lab for entrepreneurial empowerment, and educational spaces for STEAM programming. The Center will meet diverse community needs, drive economic growth, and attract new, discovery-seeking visitors to downtown Boca Raton.
Renzo Piano’s acclaimed firm, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), will commence work in late October 2023. The team plans to break ground in 2025, Boca Raton’s centennial year.
“Over the last five years, leaders in Boca Raton and the region have dedicated their time, effort and resources to make today’s historic announcement possible,” says Andrea Virgin, Chair & CEO of The Center. “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.”
“The Center’s differentiating promise to integrate advanced technology and to function as a site for research and development—not only in the arts, but also between the arts and other sectors—is an unrivaled opportunity for Boca Raton,” said Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel and a South Florida native.
First initiated in 2018, The Center was conceptualized to fill a 60-mile gap in creative infrastructure along Florida’s Gold Coast. Its landmark placement at the north end of Mizner Park, next to the Boca Raton Museum of Art, realizes the original vision of establishing a cultural hub in Boca Raton’s downtown core, where 40 percent of the land was earmarked for such a purpose—despite only portions of that initial dream becoming a reality.
Community members have collectively contributed tens of millions of dollars in early operational and capital support, providing a strong foundation that has seeded the work and will continue anchoring design efforts into the future.
“Innovation is a deep-rooted tradition in South Florida, including IBM’s flagship in Boca Raton,” says Matt Cimaglia, board member for The Center and the CEO of Alteon.io. “Having grown up in the city, I can attest to its inspirational power to fuel discovery and achievement across art, business, culture, and technology. The Center will reflect, harness and fuel that uniquely innovative spirit.”
In October 2022, the City of Boca Raton formally approved The Center’s mission, granting a 94-year ground lease at $1/year (more than $30 million in value) and signaling this project’s critical importance for the city’s future. Once operational, The Center is estimated to create more than $1.3 billion in overall economic impact in the area within its first five years from retained direct, indirect, and induced spending and more than half a million new annual visitors to the city. The Center, coupled with other major capital improvements to the downtown area in recent years—including the Brightline light rail station across the street—is expected to catalyze further investments that will continue enhancing the city.
“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,” says Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer. “The ripple effect of The Center into the community and beyond bodes well for our future.”
The extensive selection process for The Center’s architect was led by The Center’s Building Committee, chaired by board member Camilo Miguel, Jr., CEO of Mast Capital, one of South Florida’s most prominent real estate developers. Following the interest of 22 privately invited internationally recognized firms, the committee selected ten finalists to respond to an RFP, after which four were ultimately shortlisted: Ennead (New York City), Foster + Partners (London), OMA (Rotterdam) and Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Paris/Genoa).
“To have three Pritzker laureates in our shortlist of design architects is a testament to the global significance of this project,” said Camilo Miguel, Jr. “It’s an honor to be at the helm of ushering in Renzo Piano’s first cultural campus in South Florida.”
“We are proud and honored to be the selected design architects for The Center for Arts and Innovation in Boca Raton, and we are eager to start working on this exciting project,” said Renzo Piano.
RPBW is the acclaimed design team behind such global monuments as the Shard in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Whitney Museum and the New York Times building in New York, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, and the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, among many other notable museums, hospitals and cultural centers around the world.
“Culture and art are essential—they shape our society, improve our quality of life, influence our behavior in making us more human, and help us to better connect to one another,” says Antoine Chaaya, the partner in charge from RPBW. “The programming of The Center and its architecture must play in harmony, so that the project becomes a cultural and artistic destination. It is to become a place of inspiration that fosters creativity, where ideas can be inseminated and born.”