One of this week’s parties for Miami Basel combined an exhibition of four decades of Latin American art by ArtNexus with the marketing of Renzo Piano’s first residential project in the United States – the new luxury condominium development by the Terra Group at 8701 Collins Avenue on the edge of North Beach in Miami.
Sales are apparently going well, with the asking price for a two bedroom condominium between $2 and £3 million. Piano describes the site as “almost suspended between the sea and the adjacent park”, with one of the main design aims to extend the greenery of the park through the building so that the 17 stories seem seems to float above the landscape as a transparent series of light planes, orientated to maximise the views to the ocean from Collins Avenue.
This new contemporary building will have facilities akin to a high quality hotel including butler service, bar, restaurant, spa, library, pools and an underground parking garage. Landscape design for the development and the restoration of the adjacent park is by West 8 of The Netherlands with interior design by Rena Dumas Architecture Interieure.
The development has been controversial. The site was formerly occupied by the Biltmore Hotel, latterly the Howard Johnson Plaza Miami Beach North. While was not listed as being of historic importance, the hotel was an example of the 1950’s Miami Modern (MiMo) style, designed by Albert Anis in 1951 with interiors by Morris Lapidus. According to Atelier & Co., who was commissioned by campaigners in 2014 to create a conceptual design for “restoring and improving”, the hotel, “with much of the existing [midcentury modern] details intact, buried under several renovations much of the charm and nostalgia could easily return to this incredible hotel”
While the developers originally planned to refurbish the hotel and develop a new luxury condominium block adjacent to it, was claimed that the old building wasn’t able to be restored to modern hotel requirements. It has now been demolished and work is starting on Renzo Piano’s design, planned to be completed in 2018, with a $10 million contribution to the city to refurbish and improve the adjacent park.
There may be those who mourn the loss of the old hotel, but externally there are many like it in Miami and is an opportunity here to achieve a building of high quality, a 21st century equivalent of the 1950’s Miami Modern, with terraces like decks of a ship, as external extensions to the living accommodation with full-height glass doors that fold back, plus the much-needed improvement to the adjacent park.
As in London, however, there is concern that the luxury condominiums will be bought by absentee owners who only stay for short periods, with the loss of the vibrancy and economic benefits that a hotel brings with guests eating and drinking in local bars and restaurants and buying souvenirs in local shops. This may prove to be a valid concern, especially as the block will contain so many facilities of its own.