Category Archives: Architects

Architects are profiled.

Homegrown Architecture: MIA and the USA

A glimpse of the terrace of Palau de La Musica Catalan, a Montaner masterpiece.

The Architect and the City

No one can better represent a city than a local architect—whether you consider Fillipo Brunelleschi in Florence or Lluis Domenech i Montaner and Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona. The expression of their architecture is synonymous with the pride of their cities.

Miami’s architectural scene is robust and diverse. Its relationship with homegrown architectural firms, intimate. They’ve shaped its skyline with little external influence, making it uniquely Miamian.

To put this into perspective and draw comparisons with Miami, I surveyed seven major U.S. cities and ten prominent buildings in each one (for the sake of simplicity, in order of height):

  1. NYC
  2. Chicago
  3. San Francisco
  4. Seattle
  5. Atlanta
  6. Houston
  7. Boston

We’ll get to Miami, at the end. Continue reading

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Borges + Associates

Borges and Associates brings to mind sharply designed loft developments. Although specializing in many aspects of their field, including urban planning, interior design, and architecture, Borges and Associates’ bread and butter is the loft project. Here is a short list of some of their loft and mid-rise designs:

  • The Lofts at Mayfair
  • District Lofts
  • Loftika
  • 757 Condo
  • Nautica
  • Brickell Townhouses
  • Rosabella Lofts
  • Urbanea

Not known for towering highrises, Borges + Associates is shedding this perceived portfolio deficiency with Infinity I and II. The towering Infinity I is nearing completion and will stand as the firm’s flagship Miami developments.

Rendering: Infinity II

B+A designs are not known for their curves. Oppenheim-like in their tendency to incorporate sharp, straight lines, and cubes, their designs still somehow manage to refrain from predictability. Unfortunately, quite a few of their designs have remained on the drawing boards as Miami’s boom has subsided in favor a slump. The Miami Flatiron–not to be confused with the Brickell Flatiron–was never built. Biscayne Vista was canceled and the Design District Lofts seems to have been scrapped as well.

Despite this inevitable consequence of the bust, B+A has still excelled in Miami and, through their international partnerships (Global Studios and DRU Architectural Consultancy), are engaged in a couple of noteworthy developments overseas:

  • Galaxy Island, Bahrain
  • Dubai Creek Hotel

Rendering: Galaxy Island, Bahrain

B+A’s activities in Bahrain and Dubai add to Miami’s international architectural reach–with firms like Arquitectonica, BAP, and Oppenheim already heavily in the global mix while Fullerton Diaz and RVL are dabbling in it. Not yet considered one of the big players, B+A is on the up-and-up. Their international reach is sure to gain then additional notoriety, and Infinity I and II’s towering ambitious designs raise the bar for the loft-oriented firm. Expect B+A’s star to continue rising.

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Bermello Ajamil: Designing the World from Miami

Founded in Miami in 1939, Bermello Ajamil & Partners is making history in Dubai. I had known that it was a great firm, locally, but never imagined they’d get themselves into this (via – Maria De Los Angeles). Yes, that is Dubai’s The World. An 18 billion dollar dream-like endeavor to incorporate the globe into one huge, man-made, 300-island archipelago. Without getting into the details, it’s big, unprecedented, historic, and a Bermello Ajamil project.

Satellite image: The World at Night

That’s not all. Also in Dubai, BAP is the master architect for Maritime City, which will house over 125,000 people when complete. Miami-based Arquitectonica is doing it big in China, but it seems that BAP is friendlier with Dubai’s sheiks (Chad Oppenheim is in the Dubai scene too).

Image: Rendering of Maritime City, Dubai UAE

In Miami, here are some of their projects:

  • The Four Seasons (Brickell Village)
  • Onyx on the Bay (Edgewater)
  • 1800 Club (Edgewater)
  • Vue (Brickell Village)
  • Skyline (Brickell Village)
  • One Broadway (Brickell Village)
  • Parc Lofts (M&E)
  • Filling Station Lofts (M&E)
  • The Colonnade (Dadeland)

Image: The Four Seasons towering over all others (Via- Blogging Miami)

The 68 year old firm is at the forefront of Maritime architecture with port-projects throughout the world. It also played a key role in the design of Las Vegas’ MGM Grand. Bermello Ajamil’s style is dynamic and unpredictable. Low to the ground, Parc Lofts and Filling Station Lofts can easily be considered among Miami’s most strikingly designed loft developments. Soaring higher than all other buildings in Miami, the Four Seasons remains the benchmark of Miami’s emerging skyline.

BAP-designed projects are located throughout the Core, but are conspicuously absent from Sieger Suarez-dominated Miami Beach. It may not be the most recognizable of Miami’s elite architecture firms, but it can be measured against the best of them, and unlike most of the others, BAP is chasing the century mark.


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Arquitectonica in the Far East: Big Things Poppin’

Image: Zendai Forum, Shanghai

Miami-based Arquitectonica is known for having designed some of Miami’s most recognizable buildings. In the early 1980’s they designed, what were then, groundbreaking concepts for the Imperial, Atlantis, and the Palace on Brickell Avenue. Since then, they have gone on to design many more of Miami’s most notable buildings and established something of an architectural hegemony in the local market, but apparently, that was not enough. These local architectural old-schoolers have gone global, and in the Far East they’re doing it BIG.

Here’s the low down:

  • New Era Mall, Yangpu District, Shanghai
  • Pacific Plaza, Manila
  • Shanghai Finance Ministry

Image: Hi Donghai, Shanghai, PRC

  • King Glory Mall, Shenzhen
  • China World Trade Center

Image: Nanyuan Hotel/Retail complex, Ningeo, PRC

  • City Plaza II Office tower, Hong Kong
  • City Plaza Shopping Center, Hong Kong
  • Shanghai Information Town
  • Shanghai Regent

Image: King Glory Mall, Shenzhen, PRC

  • IMG Sports Academy, Bharata, India
  • Cyberport, Hong Kong
  • CyberLibrary, Hong Kong
  • Sky Sxcel Shopping Mall, Guangzhou
  • Taikoo Hui, Guangzhou

Image: Taikoo Hui, Guangzhou, PRC

  • Zendai Forum, Shanghai
  • Changning Government Center, Shanghai
  • Hong Kong Le Meridien

Image: New Era Mall, Yangpu District, Shanghai, PRC

  • Hi Donghai, Shanghai
  • Menara Karya, Jakarta
  • Nanyuan Hotel and Retail Complex, Ningeo, PRC


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Miami’s Leader in Urban Planning

I have praised the Zyscovich firm for their imaginative and functional designs here before, but I failed to mention that they are involved in a number of the most important urban master planning projects and studies in the region. If even half of what they are planning becomes a reality, Zyscovich’s role as Miami’s most important urban planning firm will be cemented for a long time to come.

Miami Master Plans:

79th Street Corridor Redevelopment Master Plan

Image (above): Rendering if the 79th street master plan


Downtown Miami Jewelry District Master Plan

Image: Jewelry District Master plan


Midtown Miami Master Plan

Image: Midtown Miami Plan


Omni Redevelopment Plan

Image: Zyscovich’s Vision of future density in the Omni/M&E


The Miami Beach Convention Center District Master Plan

Image: Envisioning 17th street


Urban Study for The Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad Corridor

Image: FEC Corridor Study


Zyscovich’s Broward Planning Initiatives

Image: Rendering of Young Circle Master Plan, Hollywood, FL


Arquitectonica Chips in:

Although Zyscovich is at the forefront of Miami’s urban planning, Arquitectonica has their very own Downtown Miami Urban District Master Plan, which includes their vision for the use of the City-owned Parcel B–east of the American Airlines Arena


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Fullerton Diaz: Taking Merrick’s Vision into the 21st Century

Coral Gables was intended to be a Mediterranean style retreat for the affluent. It was among the first planned communities in the country. The Merrick family alluded to Spanish architecture, built coral stone columns, fountains, the Biltmore Hotel in the style Seville’s Giralda tower, named streets after palaces and cities in Spain, and did it all to bring old world elegance and culture to their newly planned “City Beautiful”. George Merrick had a vision, but like most great visionaries his dream outlasted his life. With Merrick long since gone, others have carried his torch, but none of them more preeminently than Fullerton Diaz Architects.

Today, Coral Gables has evolved into a sprawling community with a thriving international business district. The Gables CBD is unique in the sense that it is an offshoot of the Merrick Mediterranean architectural vision, but unlike a typical CBD, is composed mostly of mid rises. In the Gables, one can see newly built complexes with old world elegance. The Gables CBD is an architectural showcase in this respect, but Fullerton Diaz steals the show.

Here is a list of their current Coral Gables projects, which totals about a quarter billion dollars in construction:

Giralda: Phase I (commercial) Phase II (mixed use) cost $36 million (below)

The Palace: Mixed Use joint venture with the Palace Mngt. Group & the City of Coral Gables/ cost $49 million (below)

55 Merrick: Residential and Commercial/cost $51.7 million (below)

San Remo: Professional medical office condo/cost $31 million (below)

Agora: Medical arts facility/cost $16.6 million (below)

1300 Ponce: Residential and commerical/cost $29 million (below)

Alhambra Grande: Retail, residences, and office/cost $20.6 million (below)

1607 Ponce: Retail, residences, and offices/project cost $16 million (below)

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Sieger Suarez Adds to Extensive Beach Portfolio with St. Regis

Sieger Suarez is the most influential architectural firm in the Miami Beach area. To add to their portfolio, they have been hired to design the St. Regis Bal Harbour (a Starwood Resort). The Sieger Suarez Miami Beach area portfolio includes:

  • Trump Royale (Sunny Isles)
  • Trump Palace (Sunny Isles)
  • Trump International Sonesta (Sunny Isles)
  • Trump Towers by the Sea I, II, and III (Sunny Isles)
  • Apogee (South Pointe)
  • Sayan (Sunny Isles)
  • 6000 Indian Creek (Miami Beach)
  • ICON (South Beach)
  • Murano Grande (Sofi)
  • Ocean One, Two, and Three (Sunny Isles)
  • Murano (South Pointe)
  • Hidden Bay I (Aventura)
  • The Pinnacle (Sunny Isles)
  • Portofino Tower (South Pointe)
  • Continuum I and II (South Pointe)
  • The Bath Club (Miami Beach)

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Spine 3D: Revolutionizing New Construction Sales

Spine 3D Animation Studios represents a window to the future. Surely you’ve seen their animations. They bring the future to life with life-like animations of projects. Spine 3D represents a truly novel segment of the real estate industry. Their animations and renderings allow for an idea to materialize in the mind of the buyer before it becomes a reality.

Sales agents need only let Spine 3D animations play on plasma T.V.’s and let the videos soften up buyer defenses. These sophisticated and highly detailed animations aim to capture the project’s lifestyle, architecture, and location in one shot. They are designed to stir positive emotions in the viewer. Spine 3D does it best.

Image: Rendering of the lobby at the Ivy

The animations provide detailed depictions of the showcased building’s features both inside and out. One gets a sense of the interior dimensions, furnishings, and overall style. A sales center without one of these animations is like a rapper without a music video.

The studio was founded in Miami in 2000 by three architects. Just in time for the boom. In Miami alone, they have produced animations and renderings for Paramount Bay, 500 Brickell, Everglades, Ivy, Epic, Mei, Axis, Solaris, 50 Biscayne, Infinity 2, Capital at Brickell, and many more.

Spine 3D’s ingenuity has reshaped the way the industry views new construction sales. They are the self proclaimed national leaders in this type of animation and it seems like no coincidence that their creative impulse was sparked in Miami.

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Architect Profile: Fullerton-Diaz Architects

Coral Gables-based Fullerton-Diaz Architects has been in business for decades. The firm’s recent influence is felt significantly in Coral Gables and is growing more on Miami Beach and Downtown. Fullerton-Diaz’s Coral Gables projects include: 55 Merrick, One Village Place, The Ponce De Leon, and Puerta De Palmas—to name a few. There most recognizable past project is the Bristol, which was worked on in tandem with Revuelta, Vega, and Leon. Fullerton-Diaz also worked in tandem with Sieger-Suarez on Icon South Beach. It isn’t clear as to what specific influence Fullerton-Diaz had in each of these except to say that they were heavily involved.

The Fullerton-Diaz designed Platinum Condominium is Bristol-like in its curves and glass facades. FD did a great job at making the building appear important without the project having significant height or a conspicuous location. Emerald at Brickell is another example of an excellently designed project that is not as tall as its neighbors and is situated inconspicuously . Still, the Emerald has intelligently laid out floor plans, an attractive design with green tinted glass. The firm’s Mosaic project on Miami Beach falls in line with the Emerald and Platinum in building proportion and glassiness. When looking at these mid-rise projects, one can easily see that the firm excels at designing standout mid-rises. Uptown’s Mondrian is a continuation of this mid-rise trend for Fullerton-Diaz.

Although the firm performs exceedingly well with mid-rise design, it has endeavored to design some rather impressive soaring towers. Everglades on the Bay marks what will be one of the firm’s architectural trophies. The two 49 story towers are conspicuously located in the heart of the CBD on Biscayne Blvd. The projects multi-tiered cosmopolitan design is refreshing in its innovativeness. There is no building comparable in design to it. An even more radical and impressive departure from mid-rise design is the Capital at Brickell (56 and 52 floors) two tower project. The Capital’s crowns will arguably be the most eye-catching in the entire city—already drawing comparisons to the Chrysler building in NYC.

The firm has worked with an impressive array of developers. Lev Leviev contracted their efforts for Soleil—the project has been put on hold. CABI used FD Architects for Capital at Brickell and Everglades on the Bay. Alex Redondo contracted the firm for Platinum. Jorge Perez and Ugo Colombo contracted Fullerton-Diaz for Icon South Beach and Bristol, respectively. Fullerton-Diaz’s influence extends geographically throughout South Florida, but of particular interest to us is the firm’s involvement in Coral Gables, Brickell Village, Central Business District, Miami River, and Miami Beach/Sunny Isles areas.

Fullerton-Diaz is a dynamic architectural firm whose portfolio is composed of a unique and diverse assortment of projects. There is no design hallmark that the firm engages in. The designs are varying, important-looking, and intelligently laid out. The firm’s most recent projects have been among their most massive in scope. The implication is that their designs will become increasingly bold and prominent with time. The firm resides in one of the most competitive architecture markets in the Hemisphere but has still managed to stand out. Look to see their influence steadily grow.





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Architect Profile: Borges + Associates

Borges + Associates is a Miami-based international architectural firm with over 25 years of collective experience. They have affiliates in Dubai and Barcelona. B + A is a firm that has yet to become instantly recognizable in terms of their brand name and portfolio. Their most ambitious project to date will be Infinity I and II at Brickell, which at 224 meters is estimated to be Miami’s 15th tallest building by 2009. Despite the comparatively meager height scale of their projects portfolio, their designs are still impressive. Rosabella Lofts and District Lofts, although not high profile projects, have well thought out designs. They are not yet built, and in fact, like the B+A Vista development, may never come to fruition. Still, should the developers pull off the necessary maneuvers, these projects—all located in Uptown—will be instrumental in the densification trend of Edgewater—which is teeter tottering on the brink of high rise and mid rise.

Their Civica Towers development in the Civic Center will reshape the urban hub. The design blends sharp lines and carves well. Their influence extends throughout the community from Miami Beach with the Royal Palm to Loftika in the Gables Corridor and Mayfair Lofts at Coconut Grove. The advent of Infinity may indicate a more high density vertical push for the Architectural firm, but there is no additional high rise project yet publicized to mark the trend. Reinaldo Borges performs conducts consul;tative business in Dubai and has claimed that Miami’s development boom in many respects parallels Dubai’s—which has at least an estimated 50,000 units in the pipeline). This level of international involvement by the firm may help facilitate a more broad architectural perspective that can be translated in their designs. Borges + Associates has a firm foothold in the Miami architectural market and their international affiliations smell of expansion. It will not be surprises to see Borges + Associates pick up steam as a major architectural player. They are in all the right neighborhoods. To get more noticed, they simply have to take their design to new heights.

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