The City of Miami Beach is suing an internationally renowned artist who had been hired to create a colorful mosaic artwork on the side of the Miami Beach Convention Center.
But just months after being completed in July 2019, the artwork made up of red, green, black, blue, white and pink tiles became a safety hazard as the ceramic squares suddenly began to crack and fall off the wall.
The city had to put up a protective cover over parts of the artwork to prevent anyone from being hurt when the tiles came loose and crashed to the ground.
A lawsuit has now been filed against artist Sarah Morris and her company Parallax LLC, as well as two contracting companies involved in erecting the mosaic, Home One Contractors Corporation and Moosally Construction. The city is seeking more than $1 million in damages.
Morris was awarded over $1.1 million to design and install the abstract tile artwork named “Morris Lapidus” on the north and east exterior walls of the convention center.
The City of Miami Beach is suing the artist, Sarah Morris, who created a tiled artwork on the wall of the Miami Beach Convention Center
Sarah Morris is an internationally acclaimed artist, whose site-specific artworks have been installed and exhibited in leading cities, such as New York, Paris, Zurich, Basel, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Bologna and Miami Beach, on the picture
Just a few months after completion in July 2019, the colored tiles started to crack and fall off
In a lawsuit, seen by the Miami Heraldthe city holds Morris and the sub-contracting companies responsible for the issues, with Morris essentially being contractually obligated to repair any issues with the artwork for two years after installation.
Morris would have been responsible for examining the walls to ensure they were suitable for the project initially, and then ensuring the quality, completion and installation of the artwork.
But Parallax, Morris’ company responded in turn by blaming the very design and construction of the walls of the Miami Beach Convention Center itself for the problems with the artwork.
Morris, who is an acclaimed painter and filmmaker based in New York, has an extensive portfolio of international art exhibitions and public installations, although her website makes no mention of the Miami Beach Convention Center project.
Morris was commissioned by the city in October 2016 to create the installation as part of the convention center renovation project.
The art installation became a safety hazard as the tiles began to crack and fall off the wall
Nine months after completion, the artwork began to deteriorate in the spring of 2020, with the city reporting water damage, cracked tiles, grout issues, and bulges.
The artist paid homage to Morris Lapidus, a notable architect known for designing Miami’s iconic landmarks, but there were various delays in the installation process, including issues with tiles not being made. good size and had to be cut manually.
The project was finally completed three months late. Installation also had to come with an agreement that included a two-year warranty that Morris would bear the cost of repairs within that time.
But about nine months after completion, the artwork began to deteriorate in the spring of 2020, with the city reporting water damage, cracked tiles, grout issues and bulges.
By October, the tiles had begun to fall, forcing the city to act.
Morris then hired two companies to investigate the issues with the artwork, while the city conducted its own investigation through which an engineer recommended all tiles be removed entirely due to serious issues with the east wall .
Artist Sarah Morris blames the construction company that built the walls of the convention center saying they should be held responsible for damage to their artwork placed on them.
“If the walls of MBCC could not support the artwork, it was the contractual duty of the artist to notify the city prior to the installation of the artwork and devise a means to mitigate this problem” , says the city lawsuit. “The artist did nothing, letting the city believe that the installation site was appropriate and ready for the work.”
Through his attorney, Morris argues that the construction company that built the convention center walls should be held liable for damages.
“Parallax is prepared to vigorously defend itself against any allegations of wrongdoing and looks forward to the resolution of this matter,” the company said through its attorneys, Soto Law Group. “Any damage to the ‘Morris Lapidus’ artwork is the direct result of issues with the design and construction of the Miami Beach Convention Center itself.”
The attorney also pointed out that Morris’ international reputation as an artist required the city to dismantle the entire “Morris Lapidus” installation, saying it could not continue to be displayed in its current state.
‘SP. Morris is an internationally acclaimed artist, whose site-specific artworks have been installed and exhibited in prominent cities, such as New York, Paris, Zurich, Basel, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Bologna, not to mention Miami. Beach,’ Soto Law said in a statement.
“CMB’s response to the damage to the ‘Morris Lapidus’ installation is an affront to the artist and to Miami Beach’s position as one of the major cities hosting Ms. Morris’ work. Mrs. Morris, the artwork and the city of Miami Beach deserve better.
For now, the work remains in place.