Art Basel -- and real estate projects -- bring star architects to Miami

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They first came to Miami to design big, splashy trophy buildings — the museums, the concert halls, the university buildings and, in an unlikely, nowhere-else-but-here evolution, the Beach parking garages that transformed unlovely infrastructure into showpieces.

Now a corps of star-caliber architects from around the globe has set upon another prosaic staple of Miami’s urban landscape. And the luxury condo may never be the same again.

 
An architectural rendering of new hotel and condo additionsby the firm of American Richard Meier to the historic Surf Club, in the foreground.
An architectural rendering of new hotel and condo additionsby the firm of American Richard Meier to the historic Surf Club, in the foreground.
Richard Meier & Partners Architects

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THE PROJECTS

•  Herzog & de Meuron (with ADD Inc.)

Jade Signature

16901 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach

192 units, $1.8 to $26 million,

The Pritzker Prize winners, famed for their conversion of a power plant in London into the Tate Modern museum, also designed the instantly iconic 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage on South Beach and the new Perez Art Museum Miami.

The big, tapered building was designed to connect closely to the beach and gardens at ground level, and angled so that the pool and beach side receive sunlight until late in the afternoon, said Herzog senior partner Christine Binswanger. The narrow structure allows through views from ocean to Intracoastal Waterway in most units. Nearly a third of each unit’s floor space is outside on the terraces. At developer Edgardo Defortuna’s insistence, the firm set aside its preference for raw concrete for a refined white stucco.

•  Richard Meier & Partners (with Kobi Karp Architecture)

Surf Club

9011 Collins Ave., Surfside

Details not yet released

Meier, another Pritzker winner, is known for his consistent adherence to spare Modernism, his all-white buildings with nautical echoes, and expansive use of glass and natural light. Among his signature works are the High Museum in Atlanta and the hilltop Getty Center in Los Angeles.

The expansion comprises three glass-fronted hotel and residential buildings flanking and contrasting with the historic 1929 Mediterranean Revival clubhouse. Meier, who is designing both exteriors and interiors, shrank the new buildings from an initial, conceptual design by Karp, lopping off floors and separating them more clearly from the historic building, developer Nadim Ashi said. Meier, who told Ashi he intends to buy a unit, will personally work with penthouse buyers to customize the interiors.

•  Foster + Partners (with Revuelta Architecture International)

Faena House

3315 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

47 units; $2.5-$50 million; 1,307 to 8,273 square feet

The prolific, Pritzker-winning Foster gained famed with a high-tech look in the 1980s, especially his exo-skeletal HSBC Bank tower in Hong Kong. He also famously put glass domes over the British Museum and the Reichstag in Berling, and is responsible for two modern London landmarks, the pickle-shaped “Gherkin’’ tower and the Millenium Bridge over the Thames.

His firm designed every detail, inside and out, of the Faena high-rise, with a particular focus on the broad terraces, which shade and connect all rooms in each unit, and their highly customized guardrails crafted from a white resin material bonded seamlessly to stainless steel and a sloping wall of clear glass. The curving balconies, designed to mitigate wind pressures on the building in a hurricane, give the tower its sleek look.

•  Bjarke Ingels Group

Grove at Grand Bay (with Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates)

2675 South Bayshore Dr., Miami

98 units; $3 to $21.5 million; 2,400 to 0,200 square feet

Marina Lofts

413 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale

856 rental units, rent around $2,000. Developer Asi Cymbal is exploring converting some to “affordable luxury’’ condos.

The Danish Ingels is a fast-rising architect known for unconventional, playful designs, unusual forms and a strong ecological bent and sense of social responsibility. He gained fame in Europe for his Mountain Dwellings in Copenhagen, featuring townhouses atop a parking garage that recalls a cliff, and for putting a ski slope atop a waste-to-energy plant in the same city. He opened up a New York office to pursue U.S. projects; his most prominent to date us the pyramid-shaped West 57 tower to be built in Manhattan. He was also part of a team that unsuccessfully competed to redevelop the Miami Beach Convention Center.

At BIG’s Grove project, which replaces the demolished Grand Bay Hotel, two towers twist as they rise to maximize views of Dinner Key, Biscayne Bay and the Grove.The twisting forms allow plumbing and electrical conduits to run horizontally instead of in the typical vertical cores; as a result, says developer David Martin of the Terra Group, many floor plans can be fully customized. The towers will be set in a lush garden and all trees on the site will be saved.

Unlike the condo projects on the starchitect roster, Marina Lofts, which sits on the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk, has many more, and much smaller, rental units, and also incorporates three restaurants, shops and a marina with room for 200 boats. It does boast BIG’s characteristic design flourishes: in this case, one of two towers “cracks” open to create a sort of atrium.

•  Zaha Hadid Architects (with O’Donnell Dannwolf and Partners, Architects)

One Thousand Museum

1000 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami

83 units; 8,858 square feet to 9,978 square feet; $5 million to $15 million

The Pritzker winner, whose firm also designed a swooping new garage for Miami Beach, where she owns a winter condo home, is the only female superstar architect in a field notoriously dominated by men. Her futuristic buildings feature elastic, undulating forms made possible by advanced computer-aided design, and include BMW headquarters in Germany, the Guangzhou Opera House in China and the acquatic center for the London Olympics.

For the One Thousand Museum tower, says project architect Chris Lepine, the firm sought to minimize the tower-on-podium format necessitated by the location by joining top and bottom with a snaking, functional structural “exoskeleton’’ that runs all the way to the top, unifying the design and giving the building a resemblance to a giant spider or the monster from Alien.

•  TEN Arquitectos

321 Ocean Drive (with Revuelta Architecture International)

21 units; 2,800 square feet to 4,200 square feet and a 13,000 square foot penthouse; $4 million to $25 million.

One Ocean Drive (with Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership)

50 units, $2 - $10 million

Both in Miami Beach

The firm of Mexican architect Enrique Norten, responsible for yet another designer Miami Beach garage, has a reputation for meticulously thought-out, neo-Modernist buildings, and has rapidly gained prominence in the United States since opening a New York office. In Mexico City he is know for the Televisa building, which resembles a giant cut-off section of tunnel or pipe. His Hotel Americano in Manhattan’s Chelsea district is covered in chain mail.

His two, low-scale Ocean Drive projects share design characteristics: bright, simple and clean lines, defined by natural materials, glass walls and broad, overhanging terraces. Where 321 Ocean is squared-off to fit in with its boxy neighbors and fronts the beach, One Ocean is set just off the shoreline at the foot of the famous street and consists of a pair of curvilinear mid-rise towers joined by a breezeway. One Ocean developer Jorge Perez of the Related Group commissioned art from Jose Bedia, Michele Oka Doner and Eugenio Cuttica for the project. He plans to move in to one of the penthouses.


What they bring to Miami’s drafting table ranges from the outlandish to the über-restrained.

On the one hand, there is an Alien-like, 62-story tower in downtown Miami by the firm of Iraqi-born, London-based Zaha Hadid, and towering twin twisters in Coconut Grove by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group, which has also designed a massive rental project along Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk that will appear to have cracked in two.

On the other, there is a streamlined Miami Beach tower by the firm of Britain’s Lord Norman Foster that recalls the sleekest of luxury cruisers; a gently tapered, trapezoidal Sunny Isles tower by Swiss superstars Herzog & de Meuron, whose woggly balcony columns evoke the classic Beach hotels and condos of the ‘50s and ‘60s; as well as the glassy, minimalist elegance of two low-rises on Ocean Drive south of Fifth Street by Mexican Enrique Norten’s TEN Arquitectos and the expansion of the venerable Surf Club by the American firm Richard Meier & Partners.

Think units as big as a house, extra-high ceilings and expansive balconies and terraces, angled and cantilevered just so to provide shade from the sun and frame multimillion-dollar views, and lots and lots of clear, high-tech, heat-repelling glass — in short, all the ultra-spare extravagance that developers and architects say their sophisticated clientele expects in a Miami pied-a-terre.

To be sure, many Miami architects produce top-notch work, including homegrown powerhouse Arquitectonica, responsible for scores of buildings across the city and the globe. Renown architects like I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson and most recently, Frank Gehry, have done work in Miami in the past. So have TEN and Herzog & de Meuron, both of whom did Beach garages. The latter also designed the new Perez Art Museum Miami. But none have undertaken residential buildings.

The starchitecture condo arms race, not unique to Miami, has been driven by developers whose post-recession strategy is focused on massively deep-pocketed buyers, most from abroad, who are willing to pay once-inconceivable prices for the cachet and pleasure of taking up residence in an architectural masterwork. The price floor is $1.8 million for a unit at Herzog & de Mauron’s Jade Signature, rising to $50 million for the duplex penthouse at Foster’s Faena House.

“It’s sort of a circular thing where buyers are willing to pay extra, I wouldn’t say for a brand, but for a certain quality of design,” Norten says. “It’s very hard to say exactly what it is. The wow factor is a comfortable, solid and elegant environment.”

True, says Lipe Medeiros, who has a contract to buy a 4,700-square-foot apartment for $5.9 million in the Hadid-designed 1000 Museum building. “I adore Zaha Hadid and her designs. I fell in love with the design and the way the structure looks,” said Medeiros, a Brazilian-born photography collector who previously owned a fashion design firm. Medeiros, who has a boutique real estate team, has also recommended the building to a handful of high-end clients.

The appeal isn’t only about the designer pedigree. “When you have a top-of-the-line architect, you will have a different attention to detail. Zaha will not let her name be dirtied by somebody else going in and cutting corners.… It’s going to be her postcard in Miami.”

Norten and architects from the other star firms say they have strived to design uniquely South Florida buildings, reconceptualizing old Miami eco-friendly techniques for positioning buildings and balconies to create shade and capitalize on breezes to encourage inside-outside living.

Some, including the Foster design for Argentinian developer Alan Faena’s ambitious plan for a new urban district along a dormant stretch of Collins Avenue, are eschewing the typical Miami tower-on-a-pedestal model. Faena will build underground parking so the building’s entrances will sit at ground and beach level amid lush subtropical gardens. So will Herzog & de Meuron’s Jade Signature.

“We have worked with some brilliant architects. But at Herzog they have an army of people who all contribute ideas and think about every detail of the project,” said Defortuna, who flew to Switzerland to audition the firm before hiring them. “If a solution they came up didn’t work with the budget, they came back with three or four alternatives that work for them and for us. They never give up.”

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