West Palm Beach’s Culture Lab

Photo courtesy of CityPlace

Just what do you do with an abandoned department store? That’s a question facing cities and businesses across the country as mall after mall shutters. Related Companies, which operates CityPlace,
is answering that call by bringing art to where only retail once stood.

Related recently opened  Culture Lab, an immersive arts experiment inside the former Macy’s at the center of CityPlace. This flexible space features two main elements: an exterior mural by Michael Craig-Martin and a site-specific sound installation by Stephen Vitiello. Occupying the entire second floor, Vitiello’s You Are the Magic incorporates sounds he made within the building as well as those recorded at other Macy’s locations. It’s composed of three parts (audio, visual, and narrative) that can be experienced in whatever order the listener chooses. It’s free to visit, and is open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Moving forward, Culture Lab will expand to include walk-up culinary options on the first floor as well as unique educational and retail offerings.

Culture Lab is just one aspect of a larger arts revitalization happening at CityPlace. Public works—such as a large-scale mural on the Hibiscus parking garage and a sculpture of a bathing beauty next to the fountain—have already been added. They join new pop-up commercial projects like the WPB Collective shops and The Shack, a mini-eatery by Field of Greens. Other components are also in the pipeline, most notably a new mixed-use area with a hands-on teaching garden located at Rosemary Avenue and Evernia Street. This Magic Garden, as it’s been dubbed, will act as one more step toward Related’s goal to imbue downtown West Palm Beach with a variety of cultural and community anchors.

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