The world’s only female superstar architect, Zaha Hadid, unveiled an undulating, spider-like design for a new luxury condo tower on Biscayne Boulevard — her first residential project in the United States — that boldly looks to raise the design ante for Miami’s skyline.
The developers of the proposed 1000 Museum, Gregg Covin and Louis Birdman, also hope to capitalize on the location and the big design name to break through the price ceiling for a downtown Miami condo. They are angling for a stratospheric minimum of $4 million for the cheapest units, and a Miami Beach-like $30 million and up for penthouses. That means pricing would start at about $900 per square foot, an amount that’s already roughly double the price of the typical new downtown condo.
The 61-story tower would squeeze in among the so-called Four Horsemen high-rise condos across from Biscayne Bay and the emergent Museum Park, taking over a prime spot now occupied by a gas station, which Covin and Birdman have a contract to buy. The pawn shop property behind it on Northeast Second Avenue is not, for now, part of the $300 million project.
The futuristic design by Hadid’s London-based firm features an interlacing concrete exoskeleton, a bulging midsection and a set of rib-like lower balconies that has prompted comparisons by some local bloggers to a spider, a bug and an alien spaceship.
“We love Miami, and we feel we can create a beautiful addition to the skyline that will define the skyline in a new way,’’ Zaha Hadid Architects director Patrik Schumacher said. “I think it will have a new kind of appeal.’’
The Iraqi-born, London-schooled Hadid, whose firm has also designed a swooping new Miami Beach city parking garage, is known for flowing, curvaceous buildings that sometimes appear to melt. In the past decade, she has gone from experimental-minded iconoclast to sought-after designer, achieving the kind of popular recognition usually reserved for celebrity male architects like Frank Gehry. Her well-publicized struggles to be taken seriously in the notoriously male-dominated profession also made her a kind of feminist icon.
She has a residence on South Beach and was known to have long been seeking a signature local project. Previously, her only Miami work was a sculptural installation in the atrium of a Design District building.
Hadid is the third winner of the Pritzker Prize, often called architecture’s Nobel, currently working on a Miami condo project. Sir Norman Foster of Britain is designing a tower next to the Saxony Hotel in Miami Beach, while the Swiss firm of Herzog & de Meuron, also responsible for the new downtown art museum and the instantly famed 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage on South Beach, is designing a tower in Sunny Isles Beach.
The firm of a fourth Pritzker laureate, Rem Koolhaas’s Office of Metropolitan Architecture, for whom Hadid previously worked, has designed three companion buildings for the Saxony project, including the renovation of a smaller hotel, and is on a team vying for the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The fact that Hadid and other eminent architects are designing exceptional buildings in Miami reflects a growing maturity and sophistication about design from developers and civic institutions, said Wolfsonian/FIU museum director Cathy Leff.