FORT LAUDERDALE — Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) is reviewing submissions from five internationally recognized architects competing to design its new terminal at the Port of Miami.
The 170,000-square-foot space will be radically different from what most cruise terminals look like. The designs are highly unusual for RCCL, which like most cruise companies prioritizes function and economy in terminals, which are typically designed by engineering firms, not architects.
John Tercek, RCCL’s vice president of commercial and new business development, said the company was taking a different approach on this terminal because the project has several additional benefits.
“Because of its location, it has some marketing value, and it’s also a good thing for Miami, so we can spend a little more,” Tercek said.
Tercek previewed some of the renderings from a design competition during a breakout session at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference here. He described one, by New York firm Aedas, as looking like a giant, bright blue Transformers toy.
A second proposal, from Copenhagen-based Bjarke Ingels Group, which designed the World Trade Center Two project in New York, took its inspiration from the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall on Miami Beach.
“They kind of stacked all those canopies from Lincoln Road,” Tercek said. “That was pretty cool. Then they put a park inside. A cruise terminal with trees inside.”
Tercek described a submission from avant-garde architect Zaha Hadid as “very futuristic,” with a concert space inside. A proposal from Broadway Malyan of Singapore is a basic box with lots of abrupt angles grafted on.
A fifth plan, from New York-based Asymptote Architecture, is also a basic box but with a reflective drape. Tercek said it would have “a billion LED lights on it,” so that every night would offer a different light display.
Situated at the start of the cruise ship row, it will be the first port building anyone sees as a vessel enters the harbor.
“All the traffic going to Miami Beach on the MacArthur Causeway passes it,” said Hydi Webb, the assistant director of business development and marketing for the port. “Everyone is going to be intrigued by it.”
Royal Caribbean International plans to move a 5,200-passenger Oasis-class ship from its current base at Port Everglades to Miami to occupy the terminal, so there were functional criteria the designers had to meet in terms of drop-off areas, traffic circulation, luggage lay-down and check-in times.
Tercek said RCCL isn’t giving up on economy. “We think we’re going to be able to come within about 15% of what a basic warehouse terminal would look like, but we’re going to have a world-class facility on the waterfront,” he said.
One such basic design, the company’s recently completed terminal at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., cost about $70 million, Tercek said.
RCCL is working under a memorandum of understanding to develop the terminal, which would be owned and operated by RCCL on land leased from Miami-Dade County. The process is expected to conclude in a couple of months with a single design that would go to the county for approval.
Miami has typically been the world’s busiest cruise port. In 2014, it handled nearly 4.9 million passengers.
Tercek said the new terminal should be completed in 2018. The Seatrade convention has moved temporarily to Fort Lauderdale while upgrades are made to the Miami Beach Convention Center.
“So by the time we go back to Miami in a couple years for the next cruise convention, this facility will be ready, and we’ll probably have some event there to celebrate,” he said.