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Perez Art Museum Built "Like Rock Of Gibraltar" For Hurricanes

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hurricanes and our vulnerability to them has changed the way buildings are built in South Florida. Case in point, the new Perez Art Museum Miami on Biscayne Bay. PAMM has never had to deal with a hurricane but they'll be ready when one threatens with surprisingly little preparation.

With its signature outdoor hanging gardens, wall to ceiling glass, and waterfront location, PAMM looks like it would be an immediate casualty of a hurricane.

But, the "PAMMily" as they call themselves, planned carefully, drawing inspiration from Stiltsville where the unique homes are built on top of the water on pylons within the ocean floor.

The museum's Director of Facilities Jim Sharpe explained it this way.

"It's like the Rock of Gibraltar as far as the amount of concrete that went into the building, the rebar and the structure for it, and then the exterior of the structure is called pre-cast, and all of that was built to resist hurricane category 5 winds."


PAMM's Deputy Director of Finance & Operations Mark Rosenblum says the sheets of glass on the building's exterior, and there are a lot of them, are the largest sheets of glass in the world.

"When the building was built, we knew that we wanted all of this exposure, both from outside in and inside out, so we do have a tremendous amount of glass.  All of it was built in Germany and tested for hurricane winds, so this way here at PAMM we do not need to do any exterior treatments or coverings."

The museum's proximity to the water, they say, is not a problem, because it is raised on an elevated platform.

It is designed to capture and utilize the air flow off the bay to keep the building cooler and elevate the art above hurricane storm surge.

The outdoor art in the sculpture garden is hurricane resistant and Rosenblum says the lush gardens hanging from 67 columns are surprisingly sturdy, too.

"They have many, many different variety of plants within them.  The pieces themselves, the columns themselves, were engineered for hurricane winds so again, the hanging gardens like the glass are something that we don't need to prepare. They will withstand the winds."

PAMM also has an advanced back-up electricity and generator system, which can be re-fueled by truck or barge.

The museum went through a dress rehearsal last year, as did most of us, when Hurricane Matthew was threatening.

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