9 Miami Architects You Have to Know
Feb 18, 2020 February 18, 2020
In the age of Starchitects, let’s not forget that Miami has been at the forefront of leading architecture for decades, which explains why tourists and architecture lovers flock here yearly to enjoy, and even live in, the Magic City’s eclectic subtropical architecture.
So, who are Miami’s most notable architects, past and present? Want to live in one of Miami’s architectural gems? Read on to learn more about Miami’s ongoing love affair with architecture and some of the architects who have made Miami architecture so damn cool.
Past Miami Architects: Legends
Francis Burrall Hoffman and Paul Chalfin
One of Miami’s oldest and most famous architectural landmarks is the breathtaking Villa Vizcaya, built in 1914 as the summer home of millionaire tycoon James Deering. Deering hired painter, curator, and art historian Paul Chaflin to help him envision the estate, and architect Francis Burrall Hoffman carried out the plan. A Mediterranean style palace on Biscayne Bay, complete with baroque flourishes, formal European gardens, grottos, and a vast statuary collection, Vizcaya remains one of Miami's most beloved historic landmarks.
Photo courtesy of Vizcaya Museums and Gardens
Schultze & Weaver
If you’ve been to Miami, you’ve probably driven by the famed Freedom Tower on Biscayne Boulevard. This National Historic Landmark, and many others in South Florida, was designed by Schultze & Weaver, an architectural firm founded in New York City in 1921 by Leonard Schultze and S. Fullerton Weaver. Together, these two left their design imprint across all of South Florida -- The Breakers in Palm Beach and the glorious Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, to name a few that are still standing.
Built in 1925, Miami’s Freedom Tower (modeled after the Giralda Cathedral Bell Tower in Seville, Spain) was converted into a processing center for Cuban exiles in the 1960s, earning its Freedom Tower status. Today, it showcases its history as part of the Miami Museum of Art and Design.
Photo courtesy of Ed Webster
Henry Hohauser and Lawrence Murray Dixon
If you love all the Art Deco architecture in Miami Beach, thank Henry Hohauser and L. Murray Dixon, two of the major forces behind all those fabulous South Beach hotels. The two dominated the local architectural scene during the 1930s, popularizing the Art Deco look and curvilinear design that was all the rage in Europe at that time. While both built careers in New York, their greatest legacy and lasting impact was left in Miami. Among their many hotels are the Colony, the Edison, Park Central, the Essex House, the Cardozo, the Tides, the Marlin, the Raleigh, SLS South Beach, the Betsy Ross, the Ritz Plaza, and the Temple House.
Photo courtesy of Phillip Pessar
If any one architect embodies the spirit of Miami, it’s the over-the-top Ukrainian-immigrant Morris Lapidus, whose neo-baroque, modern hotels had all eyes on Miami Beach during the 1950s and '60s. Including such jewels as the Fontainebleau, Eden Roc, and the Deauville Beach Resort, Lapidus' architectural designs came to symbolize Miami’s golden era of glamour.
Over the course of his 50-year career, Lapidus designed 1,200 buildings, including 250 hotels and the Lincoln Road pedestrian walk in South Beach. While snubbed by the mainstream American architectural establishment for much of his career, his vast portfolio includes projects around the world, including The Americana of New York Hotel, now the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel; the Americana of San Juan Hotel, now the InterContinental San Juan; and the Portman Square Hotel in London.
Current Condos: Many of Lapidus’ residential tower buildings are beautifully maintained here in Miami. If you’re interested in a property in one of Lapidus’ elegant Mid-century Modern structures, check out Terrace Towers at 3 Island Avenue and Island Terrace at 5 Island Avenue on Belle Isle in South Beach; the Crystal House, at 5055 Collins Avenue, Seacoast at 5151 Collins Avenue, or Fontainebleau II Residences in Miami Beach; or the Tropicana, in Sunny Isles Beach.
Photo of Fontainebleau II Residences
Present Miami Architects: Miami Vice
Perhaps the most influential local Miami architecture firm in recent years, Arquitectonica was launched by Laurinda Spear and Bernardo Fort-Brescia in 1977. The firm completed its first major project, the iconic Atlantis condo on Brickell, in 1982, which was featured in the opening credits of Miami Vice, as well as in many movies. Known as Miami architecture royalty, Arquitectonica blends surreal modernist abstraction with nods to Miami’s rich Latin American influence, and has designed several major Miami projects that keep defining Miami’s contemporary architecture landscape. In 2017, Rizzoli published Arquitectonica, a 400-page vividly-illustrated book written by critic Alastair Gordon celebrating the firm’s 40th anniversary and its architectural legacy in Miami.
Current Condos: Arquitectonica has designed dozens of projects in Miami, including many residential condo towers. If you’re architecturally obsessed and love to live in one of their buildings, check out their Miami condos: in Brickell, there’s Atlantis on Brickell, Icon Brickell, SLS Lux Brickell, and the newly completed Brickell Heights at 55 SW 9th Street; oceanside check out, Beach House 8 in Miami Beach; Fendi Chateau in Surfside; and Regalia in Sunny Isles Beach.
If you’re interested in a pre-construction condo designed by Arquitectonica, consider Mr. C Residences in Coconut Grove, scheduled for 2021 completion.
Rendering of Mr. C Residences
Kobi Karp, another Miami architectural icon, is an Israeli immigrant and Miami resident who is inspired by Miami’s legacy of architectural freedom and diversity. Among his latest projects is the renovation of the famed Surf Club in Surfside. Karp’s work also extends far beyond Miami, with projects all over the world, including Cape Town, Mexico, U.A.E., Latin America, Saudi Arabia and Mecca.
Current Condos: There are numerous Kobi Karp luxury residential condos in Miami, including Palazzo Del Sol and Palazzo Della Luna on Fisher Island; Capri, The Grand Venetian, and the under-construction, boutique bayfront condo Monad Terrace in South Beach; Mei in Miami Beach; The Surf Club in Surfside; and Chateau Beach, Sole and Jade Ocean in Sunny Isles.
Photo of Jade Ocean in Sunny Isles
Often Miami developer Ugo Colombo’s architectural partner, Revuelta Architecture International, led by Luis O. Revuelta, was founded in 1988. Since then, Revuelta has been a key influence upon the contemporary architectural landscape of Miami. The firm’s work with Colombo’s CMC Group is known for sustainable green designs that are at once beautiful and harmonious with the unique South Florida ecosystem and tropical climate. Revuelta is also the Architect of Record for the famed 321 Ocean building with Enrique Norten, and for the Faena District, including the Faena Residences with Foster + Partners.
Current Condos: Revuelta-designed condo buildings can be found all over Miami, and include the newly completed Brickell Flatiron at 1001 S. Miami Avenue, Bristol Tower, and the iconic Santa Maria, all in Brickell; and the trio of condos Wind, Mint, and Ivy along the Miami River. In Downtown Miami, there’s Epic and 900 Biscayne; Il Villaggio, which has South Beach as its back yard at 1455 Ocean Drive; The Bath Club on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach; Azure in Surfside; and the Grovenor House in Coconut Grove.
Rendering of Faena Residences
Rene Gonzalez Architect
A local favorite, Rene Gonzalez is known for simple, modernist designs that harmonize with the natural environment and are meant to be tactile and experienced. Founded in 1977, the firm specializes in spaces that make aesthetic statements, and has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) for their holistic designs, from museums to commercial and residential properties and hotels.
Among the firm’s most celebrated Miami projects are the recent renovation of The Standard Hotel on the Venetian Isles, the sleek, sophisticated Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), and the highly anticipated Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation Art Museum in Miami’s Edgewater community. Gonzalez’s sophisticated, boutique South Beach condominium project, Glass, completed in 2015, is considered one of Miami’s most innovative new works. Gonzalez is definitely a name to know.
Rendering of the highly acclaimed Glass at 120 Ocean Drive
Among Miami’s newest generation of starchitects is Max Strang, a home-grown Floridian whose designs are influenced by the Sarasota School of Architecture, a modernist architectural movement that developed in Florida during the 1950s. While many of Strang’s projects are private residences, he recently designed The Fairchild in Coconut Grove, his first condominium project, slated for completion in 2020. And last year, Strang won the AIA Medal of Honor for Design.
Strang is known for structures that embrace the Florida climate, including waterfront homes designed to weather rising sea levels. Strang worked with Zaha Hadid (whose Museum Tower in downtown Miami was completed after her untimely death in 2016) and SHoP Architects, but credits famed mid-century modern architect Gene Leedy, a Florida architect from the Sarasota School, as his greatest influence, after growing up in a home designed by Leedy, and later working as an intern at Leedy’s Central Florida office.
Current Condos: Strang’s only residential condo project in Miami thus far is The Fairchild Coconut Grove, which is scheduled for completion in early 2020, although we expect to see much more from this talented rising star in the near future.
Rendering of The Fairchild Coconut Grove
Want to live in a beautiful building designed by a brilliant Miami starchitect? Reach out any time or stop by our Edgewater office today!