Feel Downtown Miami Like Never Before

We at ViewPlus have shared with you some wonderfully accessible Art installations that have been making there way through the world. But what about Architecture?  What would it be like to set foot in downtown Manhattan or Miami and not be able to see all of the beautiful and historic buildings around you? Is there a way that we can utilize the powerful sense of touch to help Blind people appreciate the scale and wonder of beautiful architecture?

Ricardo Mor, who curated “Listen to This Building” now open at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design is hoping that the answer is Yes! Mor is using a new technology to bring iconic building in downtown Miami to life. In the center’s sunlit gallery, 10 sheets of a plastic paper called Brailon hang on white walls. They depict Braille outlines of familiar marvels: the famed steel-and-stone Alfred I. Dupont Building; the spacious Olympia Theater at Gusman Center; the slender Freedom Tower. Braille text describing each building’s history rests on nearby pages.

Braille Text on display at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design.
Braille Text on display at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design.

“You can’t touch the spire of a church. You can’t grasp a tower around its base?” Ricardo asks. “We get to experience the city’s architectural art on a daily basis, but people who are blind don’t have that opportunity. I want to show them these are buildings we love and enjoy, so they can fall in love and enjoy them, too.”

In the gallery, loudspeakers play sound bites from 10 local voices narrating the history of the 10 Miami landmarks. Visitors who reach through holes carved into a 4-foot-tall white box in the gallery can feel a 3-D model of the MCAD building created by students from FIU’s College of Architecture. The box covers the replica, so you can’t see it. That’s also the point. Visitors must feel their way through to discover these wonders of architecture.

“It was important for us to make an empathetic, noncheesy, thoughtful show,” says coordinator Sara Darling. “People who are visually impaired can come into the space, feel the walls, listen to sound, without ever having to see.”

With help from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Exile Books, the show will be open through October 17th. If you happen to be in South Florida, we would advise you to check it out:

“Listen to This Building” open from Sept. 3, at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design, 100 NE First Ave. The exhibit will close Oct. 17. Call 305-448-7488 or go to MiamiCAD.org or ExileBooks.com

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