Daily Archives: November 2, 2006

Architect Profile: Revuelta, Vega, and Leon Architects

RVL, as I will refer to Revuelta, Vega, and Leon architectural firm, has built and is building some of the most notable buildings in and around Miami. In observing their work, one finds that there are slight patterns in their designs, but their dynamism is evident as well. Their designs blend in well with the surroundings and have a wide height range. Projects like the Bath Club, Saxony, Porto Vita, Il Villagio, and City 24 are not tall but have plush designs that make the buildings appear important–as their developers surely intended. The taller new designs such as 900 and 600 Biscayne as well as Epic Residences are going to be situated in highly conspicuous lots, but that has not deterred Revuelta, Vega, and Leon from developing truly captivating designs with well thought out curves. Although not all the buildings have eye catching crowns, the 900 Biscayne, Jade Beach, Jade Brickell, and Il Villagio crowns are striking.

Many of the structures are curvilinear. RVL’s curvy designs give the impression of motion and expansion rather than the stiffness and containment exuded from more cube-like designs such as Oppenheim’s Element and Ten Museum Park projects. The Santa Maria and Bristol towers are fine examples of this curvilinear pattern. These two Ugo Colombo projects are not surprisingly heavy on glass. Ugo has tended to go with RVL in most of his major projects (Bristol, Santa Maria, Grovenor House, Epic Residences, and The Saxony). RVL is probably one of the best architectural firms at incorporating glass into their designs—maybe because of all the work they have done for Ugo Colombo. It also seems that RVL likes to blend in cubes with cylinders as is the case with both Neo Vertika and City 24 and to a lesser extent 900 Biscayne. The designs seem to draw inspiration from one another, a pattern which seems to represent a continuation and evolution of the firm’s architectural style. Take, for example, the Bristol, which has a basic cylindrical shape with a domed crown, and its neighbor just to the north, the subsequently built Santa Maria, which appears as if it is a newer version of the Bristol except stretched sideways to create cylindrical sides and a more flat front and rear façade. Still, the cylindrical pattern of the Bristol is kept intact. Across the bay, the Murano is another Bristol-like development that seems like a smart reinterpretation of the 41 story Brickell high rise. By reinterpretation I mean that the Murano fundamentally has a basic cylindrical design that instead of being stretched laterally is segmented into different cylindrical tiers or steps that gives a wrap around effect—in this building the glass again is preeminent. Other comparisons can be made, for example, the Jade Brickell development resembles, in it proportions, the Santa Maria. The primary difference is that the Santa Maria has more glass, cylindrical sides, and a semi-cylinder mostly glass crown, which also serves as a sky gym—whereas the Jade Brickell tower has sharp and jagged sides, imposing concrete vertical lines, and an unusual T-shaped steel crown. The buildings similar proportions in height and width, however, are undeniable—Jade Beach can also be considered to have similar proportions to these two projects as well but it not being topped off prevents the comparison from being complete. It is not clear whether or not other architectural firms draw inspiration from RVL, but Il Villagio’s several crowns resemble the subsequently built Murano Grande’s multiple crowns. This is not to say that Sieger-Suarez Architects were aware of the similarity, but it is there, and I can’t ignore it. The crowns are almost identical. The Epic Residences tower on the old Dupont property presents a sharp new curvilinear design for RVL—a design which is similar to their nearby riverfront Mint project. The parallels appear on the drafts but not yet in reality. Considering the firm’s track record of alluding to former project designs, it wouldn’t be surprising. Revuelta, Vega, and Leon designs represent some of the most stunning, high quality developments both in Miami and on Miami Beach. Their designs are refreshing, dynamic, and add a sense of motion to the city skyline that almost makes it seem animate.

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