RETHINKING THE HOTEL, ART AND CULTURE AT FAENA DISTRICT MIAMI BEACH

4 -min. read

Miami is only just recovering from what sounds like one hell of an Art Basel (wonderful and borderline-psychotic some may call the annual art fest) earlier this month. Unsurprisingly, Faena Miami Beach went all out, celebrating the one-year anniversary of its hotel and the official opening of its Faena District with a riotous street parade by Tide by Side, the Faena Art TimeCapsule dome on the beach and much, much more.

But lucky for most of us mere mortals that didn’t attend Art Basel, this is only the beginning for Faena District and its desire to further explore the boundaries of hospitality, art and culture (judging from the below, found in the hotel lobby, we’re also not the only ones celebrating the rebels).

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Walk out the front door of Faena Hotel and turn right (north) and you’ll immediately see the distinctive architecture of Faena Forum.

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Designed by Rem Koolhaas and the OMA team led by Shohei Shigematsu, it merges a cylinder and a cube, with the cylinder sliced and cantilevered on the Collins Avenue side.

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The Assembly Hall on the third level cuts through the two volumes and opens up to a soaring ceiling inside the cylinder (but the spaces can be separated).

Overall, Faena Forum has eight flexible event spaces and ‘is dedicated to showcasing groundbreaking work in fields ranging from art and entertainment to business and beyond’.

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Faena Bazaar renovates the 1939 Atlantic Beach Hotel, designed by architect Roy France (also responsible for the Saxony – now Faena Hotel – and Versaille tower, which we’ll get to in a second). Keeping the façade and lobby, it was a nine-day retail and art popup space during Art Basel. Finishing touches are being put on the building now for reopening in the spring and its ‘permanent retail installation … inspired by the spice markets of India, the bustling souks of Marrakech and the night markets of Southeast Asia’.

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In further proof they need not be dank and slightly creepy spaces, this is the parking facility that serves Faena District, with car lifts to move vertically between floors rather than the traditional ramp structure.

The available accommodation now also extends beyond the Faena Hotel (the former Saxony, dating back to 1948) to Casa Faena, a little gem dating back to 1928 of just four floors surrounding a glorious atrium filled with a book collection curated by TASCHEN.

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There are only 50 rooms here, bookable through their own separate website and with distinct décor and amenities. While bold red is the signature over at Faena Hotel (a picture below for reference), Casa Faena features more muted colours, with warm tile floors and dark wood adding to the feel of stepping into a different era (rates are also a relative steal compared to Faena Hotel across the street).

Its single elevator already has been the canvas for many an artist under the ELEVATE art programme – right now you’ll still find ‘Return to Tomorrow’ by artist Beatriz Monteavaro.

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All of this and still Faena District is not complete, and it may not be the final word on the hotel portion either. The classic Versaille tower that is a shell today (north of Faena House – the ultra-lush residences – and across the street from the Forum and Bazaar) is still to be developed.

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That will likely take some patience, and whether it will be residence-only, or (part) hotel is also not yet finalised. The screenshot below – taken from the Faena video on the homepage – shows a possible end design, though we have seen others (with the historic building dubbed Faena Versailles and a contemporary addition either Versailles Contemporary or Faena Mar) as well. Perhaps by next year’s Art Basel we’ll know more?

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[Photos / images: LE Miami / Faena Miami Beach]

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Paul J DeVries
Paul J DeVries is a freelance travel writer and was previously a contributing editor for HotelChatter.com. Based in London, he knows the city's hotel scene inside out, while also covering the latest in destinations around the world. When not checking out a new hotel, he checks in on the airlines and inflight products that get you there.

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