Real Estate

Miami welcome International architects and their innovations

Miami welcome International architects and their innovations

Even before the current real estate cycle took hold, local and international architectural talents were quietly driving ambitious project design in Miami.

Stunning visual masterpieces such as the Pérez Art Museum Miami by Herzog & de Meuron and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science designed by internationally recognized Grimshaw Architects had captured the public’s imagination. Herzog & de Meuron also designed 1111 Alton Road, the mixed-use garage, retail and event space project built for developer Robert Wennett, which has become a destination for tourists and a significant addition to Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road pedestrian mall.

Now that the massive wave of new-build luxury condominiums is underway in the Magic City, the trend of internationally distinguished architectural firms designing them there is more pronounced. And it’s changing the way real estate in the Miami area is developed, built and sold.

“It’s a way to differentiate the projects,” said Edgardo Defortuna, who hired Herzog & de Meuron for the upcoming Jade Signature project.

The Related Group, the prime mover in many areas of condominium development, was a pioneer of this trend, said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, who heads Miami-based Arquitectonica. He was the architect who used the Atlantis Condominium on Brickell, with the cutout in the middle, to help catapult his firm into international renown. Arquitectonica is currently working on the SLS Brickell hotel and condominium project.

Milecento-05-Aerea-03-02Other veterans from the real estate boom, such as Carlos Ott, who designed two Jade projects for Defortuna, are at work again in South Florida, designing Apogee Beach in Hollywood and 1100 Millecento in Miami for Related.

Another trend in the market is taking a smaller approach to projects, which is what Kobi Karp did with the 45-residence Palau Sunset Harbour for SMG Management, which includes the Roy E. Disney family investment fund. And developers are using buyer deposits to help pay for construction, which is one of the factors driving the development and planning. With projects smaller in both height and the number of units, architects are being given the freedom to push the boundaries of design to help differentiate and promote them, Karp said.

Some developers of large projects, including Asaf “Asi” Cymbal, who’s doing Marina Lofts in Fort Lauderdale, are also demanding ambitious design because of the crossroads nature of the project. For the 1,000-unit Marina Lofts, Cymbal is looking to create a landmark worthy of the type of urban gentrification the project could help bring to an area that has seen little dense development.

Following is a bit about some of the most distinguished architects designing projects in Miami-Dade County, which has seen the greatest activity for real estate investment and development.

Bernardo Fort-Brescia


Background: Born in Peru, Fort-Brescia studied architecture and urban planning at Princeton University and received a M.Arch. from Harvard University, where he later taught. He first came to Miami in 1975 to teach at the University of Miami. By 1977, he has founded Arquitectonica with a group of young architects that included Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and wife Laurinda Spear, and set up a studio in Coconut Grove. Within two years, Arquitectonica’s work was appearing in magazines worldwide. The firm has designed buildings in 40 countries from 11 international offices.
Awards: Fort-Brescia is the recipient of the 1996 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Florida Honor for Design Award and the 1998 AIA Silver Medal for Design Excellence, was honored as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1992 and inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2000, he was honored with the Salvadori Center Founder’s Award.

Notable projects: The Atlantis Condominium on Brickell Avenue and Icon Brickell. Arquitectonica is currently working on SLS Brickell for The Related Group and has been asked to map out a way to convert South Miami Avenue into a Lincoln Road-type pedestrian mall.
Philosophy: “We are all becoming one world,” Fort-Brescia said, referring to how the world is coming to Miami. “The boundaries are disappearing.”

Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron

Herzog & De Meuron

Jade Signature exclusive balcony 2Background: The firm, a partnership led by five senior partners, established its office in Basel, Switzerland, in 1978. An international team of 31 associates and about 330 collaborators are working on projects across Europe, North and South America and Asia. The firm has additional offices in Hamburg, London, Madrid, New York and Hong Kong. Herzog & de Meuron received international attention early in their careers with the Blue House in Oberwil, Switzerland (1980); the Stone House in Tavole, Italy (1988); and the Apartment Building along a Party Wall in Basel, Switzerland (1988). The firm’s breakthrough project was the Ricola Storage Building in Laufen, Switzerland (1987). Renown in the U.S. came with Dominus Winery in Yountville, Calif. (1998).

Awards: The practice has been awarded numerous prizes, including The Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2001, plus the RIBA Royal Gold Medal and the Praemium Imperiale in 2007.

Notable projects: The Beijing National Stadium, plus local project including the mixed-use parking garage, retail center and event space at 1111 Lincoln Road; the Jade Signature project for Edgardo Defortuna and the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Philosophy: “With restrained forms executed in materials that are extraordinary, often beautiful and surprising, Herzog and de Meuron have forged a style that is both cerebral and sensual, appealing to mind and body together, captivating a large audience,” according to The New York Times.

Zaha Mohammad Hadid

Zaha Hadid Architects

Hadid is an Iraqi-British architect who studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London. She became a partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, taught at the AA with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, and later led her own studio at the AA until 1987.

Awards: In 2004, she received the Pritzker Architecture Prize, becoming the first woman to do so, and won the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. She has held the Kenzo Tange chair at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and is currently professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Time magazine included her among its 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010. Later the Time 100 was divided into four categories: Leaders, Thinkers, Artists and Heroes, with Hadid atop the Thinkers category.

Notable projects: National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome; the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany; and the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany. In Miami, she is working on the One Thousand Museum project, and designed the Collins Park Garage in Miami Beach.

Philosophy: “We work at all scales and in all sectors. We create transformative cultural, corporate, residential and other spaces that work in synchronicity with their surroundings,” according to the company’s website.

Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels

Grove at Grand Bay

Background: Ingels started BIG in 2005 after co-founding PLOT Architects in 2001 and working at OMA in Rotterdam. BIG is a Copenhagen- and New York-based group of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. Ingels has developed a reputation for designing programmatically and technically innovative buildings. Ingels taught at Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, and Rice University and is an honorary professor at the Royal Academy of Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen.

Awards: Ingels has received numerous awards and honors, including the Danish Crown Prince’s Culture Prize in 2011, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2004, and the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence in 2009. In 2011, The Wall Street Journal named him Architectural Innovator of the Year.

Notable projects: Locally, he is working on the Marina Lofts project in Fort Lauderdale for Asaf Cymbal, Grove at Grand Bay for Terra Group and with Portman CMC on a proposal to revamp the Miami Beach Convention Center and its district.

Philosophy: “In our projects, we test the effects of size and the balance of programmatic mixtures on the triple bottom line of the social, economic and ecological outcome,” according to the company website.

Kobi Karp

Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design

Background: Educated at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology, Karp earned degrees in both architecture and environmental design. Subsequently, he began his career working on major hospitality and all-inclusive resort projects throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. His restoration design techniques contributed to a renaissance in Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. In 1996, he founded his current firm, and has been the principal-in-charge of design ever since. The firm specializes in architecture, interior design and planning. KKAID’s clientele includes brands such as Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, Club Med, Wyndham, Sonesta, and development corporations such as The Related Group, Leviev Boymelgreen, Maefield Corp., and Forest City Enterprises.

Awards: Karp is a recognized member of the American Institute of Architects, and is a licensed professional architect in 9 states and in Abu Dhabi (UAE). He was the recipient of the Design Centers of the Americas’ Stars of Design 2011 Architecture Award.

Philosophy: Karp’s designs are “inspired by the vernacular of the environments in which they reside. Its standard allows for the focus of the new design to relate to its logistical and historical contexts,” according to the firm’s website.

Rem Koolhaas

Office for Metropolitan Architecture

Maimi Beach Convention CenterBackground: He graduated from the Architectural Association in London and founded OMA in 1975 with Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. In 1978, he published “Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan.” He heads the work of both OMA and AMO, the research branch of OMA, and is a professor at Harvard University, where he conducts the Project on the City.

Awards: He has won several international awards, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000 and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2010 Venice Biennale.

Notable projects: The firm’s designs that are now under construction include the Taipei Performing Arts Centre; the Television Cultural Centre in Beijing; and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, China’s equivalent of the NASDAQ exchange for high-tech industries. OMA is also responsible for the South Beach ACE proposal for the Miami Beach Convention Center district.

Philosophy: From his 2003 introduction to the Wired issue he guest-edited, which described globalization’s impact: “The past three decades have produced more change in more cultures than any other time in history …. Entirely new spatial conditions, demanding new definitions, have emerged. Where space was considered permanent, it now feels transitory – on its way to becoming.”

Enrique Norten

Ten Arquitectos

321 Ocean Penthouse Background: Norten was born in Mexico City, where he graduated from the Universidad Iberoamericana with a degree in architecture in 1978. He obtained a M.Arch. from Cornell University in 1980. In 1986, he founded Ten Arquitectos in Mexico City. It opened a New York office in 2003. Since then, Ten Arquitectos has grown to more than 70 members, working on an array of award-winning and acclaimed architectural projects.

Awards: He earned the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Pavilion Award for Latin American Architecture in 1998 for his Televisa mixed-use building in Mexico City, the 2009 Institute Merit Design Award from the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter for the Xochimilco Master Plan and Aquarium, and a National Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects for the Orange County Great Park in 2009.

Notable projects: Locally, Ten Arquitectos is the architect for The Related Group’s One Ocean, David Arditi’s 321 Ocean, and a mixed-use office building for Asaf Cymbal.

Philosophy: “For a long time, [Miami] had older people running away from the winter,” he told the Business Journal. “That’s a good story, but it’s not that anymore. It has its own identity. Miami is beautiful. If you have a beautiful site, half of the work has been done for you.”

Carlos Ott

Carlos Ott Architect

Background: Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Fulbright Scholar received his master’s degree in architecture and urban design from the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis in 1972. In 1983, Ott started his own firm in Toronto and has since expanded to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. Effort is concentrated on creating buildings that are architecturally distinctive, while respecting the clients’ functional, financial and schedule requirements. Projects have recently been completed in the United Arab Emirates, China, Singapore, France, Germany, Canada, the U.S., Argentina and Uruguay, with others under construction.

Awards: Ott won the international competition for L’Opera Bastille in Paris to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution in 1989.

Notable projects: Apogee Beach in Hollywood,Echo Aventura , Jade in Miami and Sunny Isles, and Millecento in Miami.
Philosophy: “We have an ethical problem in architecture,” he told the Business Journal. “We are now at the beginning of the 21st century, and we now know that construction’s negative impact on the environment is very strong. We have seen temperatures change. We have seen a lot of earthquakes and tsunamis. I feel very strong about architecture that becomes green.”

Bernard Zyscovich

Zyscovich Architects

Background: Zyscovich received his B.Arch. from Pratt Institute in 1971 and founded his current firm six years later. A dedicated preservationist and urbanist, he has served in numerous community leadership roles, including as chairman of the Miami Design Preservation League, the organization responsible for the historic designation of the Miami Beach Art Deco District; president of the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects; and co-sponsor of South Florida’s first Tropical Green Conference. His book, “Getting Real About Urbanism,” was published by the Urban Land Institute in October 2008.

Awards: Award of Merit from the FEFPA 2012 Architectural Showcase, AIA Florida 2008/09 Firm of the Year and 2009 Merit Award of Excellence for the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

Notable projects: Development and aviation master planning at El Dorado International Airport in Colombia, 2 Midtown at Midtown Miami and the Miami Dade College Student Center. The firm has been chosen to co-plan stations for the All Aboard Florida passenger line.

Philosophy: “To use design as a way of improving and celebrating the human experience,” he said. “We strive to find what is unique and authentic about our projects and use that as the inspiration for the creative work, whether it be cities, buildings or interiors.”

by Oscar Pedro Musibay
Reporter – South Florida Business Journal
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Miami welcome International architects and their innovations