An Architect and His Stadium

Miami
?Miami Marine Stadium

Credit: Spillis Candela DMJM Archives

Hilario Candela was a 28-year-old immigrant, recently arrived from Cuba, when he designed Miami Marine Stadium in 1962. His captivating modernist creation, with its signature cantilevered roof, instantly provided the city with an iconic venue for spectacles—everything from powerboat races to concerts by Jimmy Buffett. 

Unused since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Miami Marine is now covered with graffiti. The city of Miami has proposed razing the building and redeveloping the site. But Candela continues to rally public support for his beloved stadium. He spoke to Preservation about his hopes for the property. Read more

How did you come up with the design?
The city wanted to build something very simple, wanted to build a prefabricated steel structure. And I said no, absolutely not. My motivation was to create a sculpture that also provided cover. I was enamored with the site. There is a special allure, a great beauty, where the land gets kissed by the water.

Are you disheartened by its current condition?
When I look at it up close I feel depressed—it has graffiti all over. But as I get farther and farther away, the form triumphs over the ­graffiti.

Why is it so important to save this structure?
For many years it has been an iconographic image in Miami. We don’t have many, and I think we need to protect those we have. It’s also one of the only open spaces where all residents can get to the water.

Were you heartened by the preliminary vote this summer by Miami’s preservation board to landmark the building? (At press time, a final vote was scheduled for the fall.)
I was very happy because it was absolutely necessary to save the stadium. On the other hand, it gives me a kind of peculiar feeling that one of my buildings is already historic. But it was recognition of the value of the building.

What are your hopes for the stadium’s future?
We can have boat races, swimming competitions, sailboat races. We have talked to art groups who have said they would love to use the stadium for events. We want it to become a gathering place again. 

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