There is a high degree of continuity and cohesion across everything hes doing, said Beach design and preservation manager Thomas Mooney.
The section of Collins that Faena settled on for his $750 million project has long been a sort of dead zone between the sizzle of South Beach, which ends at 23rd Street, and the bustle of the renovated Fontainebleau hotel, at 44th and Collins. That stretch has seen some modest budget-hotel renovations, but the real estate collapse scuttled planned revivals of the Saxony and Versailles.
Mooney said the city hopes Faena will succeed in creating a unified, pedestrian-friendly district in what is now an automobile-dominated wasteland.
Faenas not the only one working the stretch. Ian Schragers Edition hotel and residences, a renovation and expansion of another historic mid-century resort, the Seville, is nearing completion at Collins and 29th Street. Two penthouses at the Edition residences, designed by the minimalist English architect John Pawson, sold for a reported $34 million total to the same buyer. Other historic hotel renovations nearby have been announced.
But Faenas set on redefining the neighborhood, not just one building.
Hes convinced he can repeat the studied magic of Puerto Madero a mix of old and new architecture, of private and public, of art and a luxurious, color-drenched decor that combines old-world glamour with the sleekly contemporary.
A decade ago, Faena, a former fashion mogul, purchased an old grain warehouse in Puerto Madero, an abandoned riverfront port area, and persuaded French superstar designer Philippe Starck to turn it into a hotel with a dreamy modern-meets-baroque sensibility. Whimsical Starckian touches include a nearly all-white dining room with unicorn heads protruding over the tables.
Over the next several years, Faena hired Foster + Partners to design an adjacent apartment block, and he turned an old mill building into an exhibition space for contemporary art run by his partner, curator Ximena Caminos. His success drew legions of developers to the port area, now a dynamic, and pricey, residential and entertainment district.
We try to create from the micro to the macro, so that the taste of the coffee we serve in the hotel has the same grandeur of the buildings and the neighborhood, Faena said. When you invest with ambition, from the viewpoint of culture, of art, of architecture, even the cuisine, in association with the best talents in the world, everything around begins to take on value. My ability was to have the patience and to direct them and to know what I wanted.
Faena said hes bringing the same obsessive approach to the Beach, where he hopes to provide guests, residents and visitors an experience he likens to walking into a film or a dream. Its no coincidence that Roman and Williams principals launched their careers as film set designers, or that hes bringing in Luhrmann and Martin, a costume designer and producer.
For the Faena House condo tower, Faena asked Foster + Partners to design everything from the building envelope to the window fittings and handles on the wide sliding glass doors that lead outside, to the resin, heat-resistant handrails that top the sloping glass balustrades.
Faena said he and the architects studied the Saxony balcony by balcony to ensure the design would echo its historic neighbor, which the new tower respectfully steps back from as it rises, while setting a new standard for contemporary Beach architecture.