Image in modal.

Following the September 2023 announcement that Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) had been tapped to helm a new creative campus at the northern end of Mizner Park in downtown Boca Raton, Florida, an initial design concept has been unveiled.

As previously reported, the commission of RPBW for Boca’s future Center for Arts & Innovation is significant: the Genoa- and Paris–based studio, led by 1998 Pritzker laureate Renzo Piano, typically only takes on two to three commissions per year; it’s also RPBW’s first arts-focused project in South Florida. (Other shortlisted firms for the project included Ennead, Foster + Partners, and OMA.) The Center is being realized as part of a long-running desire to establish a major regional arts destination outside of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, filling in what has been described as a 60-mile gap of “creative infrastructure” along the northern reaches of Florida’s Gold Coast. Per a press release, The Center, which was first conceptually announced in 2018 and is led by chair and CEO Andrea Virgin, will “catalyze the convergence of creativity and innovation into four societal pillars wherein those elements intersect constantly: the arts, education, business, and community.”

Center for Arts & Innovation


Center for Arts & Innovation


Center for Arts & Innovation.


An outdoor concert on the east side of the Piazza in the campus amphitheater (1); the Piazza as seen looking north from Mizner Park’s Plaza Real with exterior views of the rooftop terrace and Belvedere (2); a community event held at the Belvedere (3). Images © RPBW

“When you’re designing a conceptual plan as an architect, you’re often designing something that you don't know, yet, exactly what it will be,” said Piano. “It’s about inventing. It’s about starting and working and seeing. We’re at the beginning and so what you see in these early designs—it’s not written in stone. Rather, it’s the beginning of what we're inventing and of something really unique.”

RPBW’s early-stage design concept features a three-story building that will serve as the campus anchor. The eastern side of the building will host The Center’s largest venue: a multi-functional, flexible event, exhibition, and performance space that can easily merge with a Piano hallmark, a sweeping plaza dubbed the Piazza. Functioning as the central outdoor space for The Center, the Piazza and will host open-air performances, events, and daily arts programming. It also incorporates an existing amphitheater at the site and “is intended to be a vibrant and lively place open to the community, destined to enhance social interaction, urban culture, and human flourishing in the city,” the release detailed.

Center for Arts & Innovation.

Sunshades and simulcast projection in the Piazza. Image © RPBW

Back inside, the building will also include a public lobby, dedicated work and maker spaces for local creatives, artistic residencies, a startup incubator, and publicly accessible educational and social spaces, all designed to “foster collision and innovation of The Center's four pillars from within.” Much of the educational programming will focus on STEAM, presented by The Center in partnership with local organizations.

Center for Arts & Innovation.

The Edith and Martin Stein Public Lobby. Image © RPBW

The Center’s third floor will be home to a covered rooftop terrace—a first in the city—with food and beverage service. The roof itself will be topped with 100,000 square feet of hybrid photovoltaic solar collectors that produce electricity and hot water for the facility. Hoisted above the roof is an event space with panoramic city and ocean views dubbed the Belvedere. Parking will be tucked underground. “Cars should go in the dark, and people in the light,” remarked Antoine Chaaya, partner-in-charge at RPBW.

Center for Arts & Innovation


Center for Arts & Innovation


Wood model, northeast view (5) and top view (5). Images © RPBW

RPBW’s design was unveiled at a celebratory event held at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, coinciding with the April 20 opening of the special retrospective exhibition Renzo Piano and RPBW: Le Fil Rouge of Contemporary Architecture. The traveling exhibition, making its North American debut in sunny and well-heeled Boca for just a short run, will remain on view at the museum through May 19.